Kenyan performance Poetry has, in last 7 years or so, enjoyed more media attention than it ever has. This is mainly due to growth of poetry performance and the proliferation of open mic venues that began springing up as early as 2008 .
However, 7 years later, what I believe was a renaissance is now taking on a new form, away from the open Mic spots which have since reduced to only 3 (Kwani?, Street Poetry & Fatuma’s voice at PAWA 254).
So, what is the future for Poetry?
Fusing Poetry with other art forms is not unique and a lot of renowned poets world over have experimented with different genres of music. Indeed the father of Spoken Word himself Gil Scott Heron fused most of his poetry with Jazz, other poets such as Iyeoka Okoawo, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott among others.
Kenyan Tech and trend show “ The Trend” has twice featured Kenyan Poets such as Wanjiku Mwaura, ElPoet, Namatsi, and Tear Drops for interviews and performances. The most recent one which gave a glimpse into, perharps, what will be the most viable route for Kenyan Poetry, was last Friday featuring Teadrops for the second time and H_Art the band.
Kenyans Online were completely awed by Teardrops and H_Art the band with many tweeting their comments through the show’s hastag #TheTrend.
Who is H_Art the Band?
H_Art the Band was formed when MORDECAI KIMEU auditioned with KENNETH MUYA and WACHIRA GATAMA. at the end of 2012.The three met in the corridors of their acting careers, late 2012, where Mordecai auditioned Kenchez and Wachira for a play on cancer-awareness at the Kenya National theatre. During the rehearsal process the three discovered that they shared a similar passion for music, spoken word/poetry, comedy, dance, fashion and generally, life. Not long after; precisely, the 22nd of February 2013, the three performed together for the first time at dass Ethiopian restaurant and, H_ART the BAND was formed.
With both Mordecai and Wachira having been crowned “Slam Africa Kings”, H_ART’s music is heavily inspired by spoken word poetry. Self taught guitarist Kenchez compliments the rhymes with smooth, danceable tunes and some undeniable Luhya swag. Everywhere H_ART performs, they leave a lasting impression.
As they describe themselves in the Facebook Page
Basically we do art from the heart..we have created a langauge best understood not by the mind…but by the heart.
imagine acoustics, smooth vocals,with a touch of poetry,spoken word, freestyle rap,drama, dance and fashion all blended into one thick pastry of art.
There musical style is abstract, African-pop, urban-colored vintage, uniquely comical, HAIR band…’’just to name a few of the words used to describe this versatile blend of artists
H_ART’s music is heavily inspired by day to day experiences. And with Mordecai and Wachira both being “Slam Africa Kings” , Self taught guitarist Kenchez compliments their rhymes with smooth, danceable tunes as mordecai at seemingly calculated instances wows their jams with his heavenly vocals and lyrics this fusion thus, creating a fresh new style they like to dress as AFROPOETRY.
Everywhere H_ART performs, they leave a lasting impression with their luhya swag and undeniable versatility of their performances. With tunes such as “Uliza Kiatu” –a timeless classic that credits shoes as the best witness to a persons hustle for love and life- as one of their fans all time favorite.
Uliza Kiatu – The Hit
Even before they appeared on #theTrend, Their song “Uliza Kiatu (Asky my shoe) was an instant hit with their fans in the various poetry stages they have been performing.
It however took the animated video of the song done by BrandFigure for the band to get the notice online prompting an invitation to The Trend show.
Fusion of Poetry and Music
Other Kenyan Poets that have explored other forms of poetry performance though not with the same success as H_art the Band are Ngwatilo in her 2nd album Intoducing Ngwatilo and Kevin Man Njoro who also goes by the stage name Nemesis ( he is also a Hip Hop artist)
Despite its performance appeal in clubs and corporate functions, poetry has attempted, albeit, with little success to make it to the TV screens due to that lack of appeal beyond its niche fanbase.
However, judging from the attention that H_Art the band is receiving, maybe the fusion of Poetry and Music might just be what propels poetry to the mainstream.
(image courtesy of nairobizblogazine.blogspot.com)