East Africa to host 'Jazz and Beats' workshops and concerts

Three artists from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania will collaborate with a visiting Norwegian artist to stage a series of shows and workshops across East Africa between 21 May and 4 June. Part of the proceeds will go towards buying hearing aids for deaf children in the region.

Ugandan jazz artist Brian Mugenyi. Photo: www.reverbnation.com
Ugandan jazz artist Brian Mugenyi. Photo: www.reverbnation.com

Kenya’s Joseph Hellon, Ugandan Brian Mugenyi and Tanzania’s Banana Zorro will be joined by Erik Smith from Norway to stage performances in the three East African countries. The tour seeks to establish a connection between East African and Norwegian performers to foster better community relations through music.

From his base in Oslo, Norway, Erik Smith works in all imaginable genres of music, from big band jazz to pop and rock. Erik has worked with many well-known artists, including American stars Michael Bolton, Art Garfunkel, Neil Sedaka, Donna Summer and Randy Crawford, in addition to many entertainers on the Scandinavian scene.

Organized by Norway’s Afrost Events, the upcoming tour will comprise free interactive training sessions conducted by acclaimed international musicians. Erik Smith will host a drumming clinic for talented and underprivileged youth in the three countries. These clinics will culminate in a competition, where finalists will be judged by Erik Smith together with leading drummers in each host country. The winner will be given special drumming tips and prizes, including a music school scholarship.

The workshops in each country will culminate in exclusive "red carpet affair" evening concerts, complete with six-course gourmet meals. 

The tour kicks off in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with a drumming clinic at the Diamond Jubilee Plaza on Friday 20 May, ahead of the concert at the Serena Hotel the following night. It then moves to Kampala, Uganda, with the drumming clinic taking place on 25 May at Zone 7 in Bugolobi. The concert will be held on 27 May at the Golf Course Hotel. The tour ends in Nairobi, Kenya, with the clinic on 3 June (at a venue that has not yet been confirmed) ahead of the final concert at the five-star Villa Rosa Kempinski on 4 June.

Afrost Events will donate 20% of ticketing proceeds from the events to the US-based Starkey Hearing Foundation to help purchase hearing aids for the youth in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania who are living in a silent world, giving them an opportunity to hear the daily beats of life. According to the organizers, the tour is aimed at involving everyone, irrespective of their setbacks. “We realized that many times music concerts are organized but the deaf are not part of the stakeholders," say the organisers. 

"If given a platform, we understand that many people - especially children and the youth - can demonstrate talent within the drumming spectrum, despite their incapability to hear. Supporting them with hearing aids is our dream come true!” 

To book tickets for any of the concerts, email tickets@afrost.events.

Performing artists

Uganda’s Brian Mugenyi is a well-known artist on the East African jazz scene. He is regarded as among the crop of artist who has helped grow jazz music in Uganda.  Brian is an accomplished young musician whose 2013 debut album, Take Time, attracted rave reviews. He is set to release his new 15-track album, Dawn, later in 2016, incorporating a variety of styles ranging from the 1980s funk and soul to the latest electronic dance music. Brian is currently composing the score for the Belgian filmmaker Kjell Clarysse's feature film Papi.


Kenya’s Joseph Hellon is an innovative and professional artist with expertise in the art of composing original, thematic music and performing for live audiences. With more than a decade of experience in the music industry, Hellon has released five albums and is currently working on his sixth, titled Fish Conspiracy. The saxophonist has in the past performed at the African Cultural Music and Dance Association (ACUMDA) as well as the Joy of Jazz festival, both in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Banana Zorro's music combines African influences and Tanzanian traditional drums with R&B, pop and rock. Banana began singing with the R&B group called B Love in early 2000 before going solo with a hit song called ‘Mama’ anda debut album in 2003.


The Jazz and Beats tour is expected to move on to Oman in the Middle East in November 2016 and Europe in March 2017. For more information visit the Jazz and Beats website


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