The phrase Kenya to the world is quickly gaining momentum as more of Kenyan artists and personalities are gaining recognition in the global market.
The most recent achievement that has fueled the phrase is after Kenyan Nyatiti player Rapasa Otieno landed an award that will allow him to say at Sage Gateshead, an arts venue in the northeast of England for 10 months.
Rapasa was awarded the 2020-21 residency alongside 3 other artists earlier in September and their stay will be valid until June 2021. The criteria used to select artists for this residency prioritizes those who are focused on full-time songwriting, production and performance.
During their stay at the art venue, the artists will be allowed to record their upcoming projects that they will receive funding for, a residential retreat, rehearsal space, one-on-one advice and support, and to conclude their residency, they will be expected to showcase their finalized project during a concert.
With all these activities ahead of them, the Nyatiti player is set to record his next album at the art centre.
Speaking to Music Africa, Rapasa who boasts for being a multi-instrumentalist, music teacher and contemporary dancer his plan is to promote the use of East African traditional instruments [mostly played by the Luo] and change the narrative and misconceptions about traditional music.
“I can happily say that I will release some more music next year. My main motive for doing anything is to improve the quality of my work.
“I love residencies because they give space for collaborations. It speaks volumes when an artist can identify an emerging concept and bring new complementary elements to the table. I look forward to more collaborations in the coming months.” he stated
Other than his outstanding skills in playing the Nyatiti, Otieno also creates and repairs traditional instruments.
The artist also challenged Kenya’s Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage to come up with projects that will bridge the gap between old and young artists inorder to share skills. One of the major setbacks according to him is that young artists believe traditional music is outdated.
Apart from this recent achievement, Otieno was last year among other artists who were selected to be part of Making Tracks residency at Kings Place in London.
In 2017 he was a OneBeat fellow in the US and was previously a member Nile Project where he performed at concerts and participated in workshops in Africa, Europe and the US.