Eric Wainaina seems to have been born to 'speak truth to power'. His middle class up-bringing in Nairobi and thorough music grounding at the Berklee College of Music don’t make him the most likely candidate for leading social revolutions, yet this is precisely what he has done ,time and again, through his music, right from his career onset in Nairobi.
His earliest songs, 'Daima' and 'Nchi Ya Kitu Kidogo' became anthems sung across the country – both of them powerful indictments of the authoritarian and ethnically divisive governments that have governed Kenya since independence.
The soft-spoken and fiercely focused musician has never allowed his attention to be removed from the business of crafting excellent music – from his earliest days of meticulous harmony training in the hit a cappella group, 5-Alive through his first engagements with creating a new contemporary sound for Kenyan music – blending Benga rhythms from the 1960s and 70s with western harmony to produce what is now dubbed Afro Fusion.
His two award-winning records, 'Sawa Sawa' (2001) and 'Twende Twende' (2006) are still amongst the highest selling records in Kenya. His lyrical and melodic prowess make him a highly sought-after composer in collaborative projects as well as on-screen music. He was recently commissioned to write the music for a United Nations MDG campaign entitled '8 Goals for Africa' which featured African greats such as Angelique Kidjo, Baaba Maal, Oliver Mtukudzi and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
He also wrote and starred in the musical theatre production, 'Mo Faya!', which was presented to sold-out houses at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and at the The Godown Arts Centre in Nairobi.
During his years at Berklee, Eric worked to produce a sound that would be distinctively Kenyan; both in the music and lyrical content. He maintained a solid presence in Nairobi, traveling home every year and releasing tracks that earned and kept his place in the local music charts and in the hearts of the Kenyan Public.
He was awarded the Jack Maher Scholarship for his distinction in song writing and the Yo Team award for excellence in music among other distinctions. He maintains a close relationship with Berklee, where he serves as a member of the African Scholars Award Board.
An accomplished stage musician, Eric has appeared on African and Global stages ,putting East Africa on the map as a space to look to for dynamic performers.