Every once in a while we have one of those days that are just one of those days. Things happen. We don't know why. It's Africa and one never knows what'll happen next.
The day we heard about The Influential Africans was one of those. A Tanzanian water well digger told us. He said we ought to get in touch and he was so enthusiastic that we did.
Like many young, talented Kenyans, they know their music, but they didn't know how to record. That's where we came in.
Sight unseen, we asked The Influential Africans to hop on a bus and bring their voices down to Tanzania. We're not sure who took the bigger risk, them or us. Either could have been scammers.
We thought they'd be prepared when they arrived at our place. They were. But they didn't have enough material. We told them they'd have to write more and they did . . . right then. On the spot.
We told them we didn't think they could do it. And they politely told us to keep quiet.
Watching them come up with songs out of the blue was a phenominal experience.
Enoch Masanga, the firstborn in his family, says he had a passion for music before he could walk. For six of his teenage years, he sang bass for big choirs. At the right time, he enrolled in a Ugandan university so he could get a degree in music. He’s a bit vague about why – could have been a girl – he eventually transferred to a university in Nairobi to take developmental studies. But campus life was boring: eat, sleep, study, no singing, and do it all over again. It was pure bookworm stuff. He wanted something to which he could apply his talent. So he auditioned a bunch of fellows and Moulding Acapella was off and running. Enoch, as is true of all of the Influential Africans, is poor and comes from a poor family. One time,when we went to visit in Nairobi, Enoch was to come and meet us.He had enough money to get on the bus, but didn’t have enough to get off. He spent the afternoon riding on the bus in circles around Nairobi, until the furious bus conductor finally took pity on him and let him off.
Martin Kuria is a hard working firstborn, also. Enoch says he thinks a lot and is a go-getter. He’ll graduate from university soon with a degree in communications and electronic media. And internship at Citizen TV in Nairobi will help him get the kind of job he wants. Martin wants to spread his music through churches and is looking for a way to do so after he graduates. He also loves eating and, sometimes, over-eating.
Domnic Maina – Breaking the chain, he’s the last born in his family. The baby. But don’t be fooled. He provides much of the musical stability in the group. He has, according to some, disciplined lips. Enoch says he has learned the art of lip control. We can attest to that. His tracks are the easiest to edit of all. There are no pops or creaks. Domnic went to high school in Nyanza Province in Kenya, which is known for its wonderful traditional music even at the high school level. Now, he’s studying, as is Martin, communications and electronic media. But he’s developing a passion for camera and video work. We expect we’ll see his productions in the future.
Lucas Muketha – Now here’s an interesting character. He’s a free spirit, always here, there, and everywhere at the same time. He loves music and it’ll be his career. Music is what will, after he finishes with university, put food on his table. He can sing and he can play piano, organ, and as many types of guitars as there are. Lucas’s parents lost most of their property and their business in the post election violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008 when two tribes, both of which had backed presidential candidates, went at each other in what turned out to be much more than just a dust-up. Lucas is still studying, but it’s more trying for him than just about anybody else at school. He really does get down to his last cent. But that will surely change when he makes it to Nashville.
Check out Knock the Devil and see what these guys can do.