Japanese musician Eriko Mukoyama, better known as Anyango, recently signed a deal with Kenyan recording company Ketebul Music, making Ketebul her official representative and distributor in East Africa.
More than 10 years ago, Eriko surprised many by learning the nyatiti, the traditional stringed instrument of the Luo people in Kenya, becoming the first female player of the instrument in the world. Traditionally, the nyatiti is viewed as a male-only instrument. Although it wasn't easy to learn to play the nyatiti, especially as a woman, Eriko did not give up. Her mentor, the late Okumu K’Orengo. gave her the name 'Anyango', which means 'a girl born in the morning'.
Her journey in traditional Kenyan music began in 2001, when she boarded a plane for New York City to pursue her dream to study music. Unfortunately her plane was forced to return to Japan, since that day happened to be 11 September, when the World Trade Centre in downtown New York was attached by terrorists. Back in Japan she attended a Kenyan traditional music concert in Tokyo, which changed her life. She met a Japanese drummer called Tawara, who had mastered various types of traditional Kenyan drums, and decided to join his band, called Mburukenge.
Over the years since then, Anyango has been closely associated with Ketebul Music, both socially and business-wise. Apart from her beautiful voice and her incredible nyatiti playing skills, she possesses a lively and jovial spirit, always surprising locals with her ability to speak Swahili and Luo.
During her recent visit to Ketebul in February, she worked on her compilation called Anyango! The Safari of Eriko Mukayama. The new album will comprise 15 songs, two of which were recorded at Ketebul Music Studios in 2015. One of these new songs features Kenge Kenge, a traditional band from the Luo community made up of young musicians singing in the Benga rhythm.
Anyango is expected to return to Kenya in mid-2016 for a series of shows to promote the new album.
Watch the 2014 video for 'Ogwang' below, taken from her recent album Kilimanjaro.