Hekima Raymond, a self-taught Tanzanian pianist and conductor, has been nominated among 50 inspirational individuals from all over the world for an award hosted by the BBC World Service's flagship programme, Outlook.
One of BBC World Service's longest-running radio programmes, Outlook will celebrate half a century on air on Monday 4 July. To mark this milestone, the BBC World Service launched Outlook Inspirations, a celebration of extraordinary people whose stories have inspired others around the world.
Born in Moshi, Raymond’s journey into music started at the age of 11, when a friend let him play on his keyboard. Under the guidance of his father he continued experimenting on the keyboard until he was was able to master songs by popular east African bands like Them Mushrooms. In 1993 Raymond enrolled at St. Augustine’s Junior Seminary, where he continued his formal music studies. He enjoyed playing the Viscount organ at the St. Paul’s Cathedral in Dodoma and remained good friends with Bishop Mathias Isuja. As a small boy playing the organ, barely able to reach its pedals, he attracted the attention of curious worshipers at the cathedral. He made his first recording in 1997 with the St. Paul’s choir.
Later, in 2006, shortly after graduating from Sokoine University of Agriculture, Raymond began conducting ensembles and orchestras, something the Tanzanian maestro has continued doing since then. In 2011 he revived the Dar Choral Society, formerly known as the Dar es Salaam Music Society. which has existed since the 1940s. That year he also founded the Dar Chamber Orchestra.
In March 2015 Raymond made history when he premiered arguably the first-ever symphony to be performed in Tanzania, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, at the Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel.
Two months later, Raymond conducted Karl Jenkins' ‘The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace’ at a concert that was attended by senior politicians from all political parties, ambassadors and top religious and business leaders in an effort to promote peace at a time when Tanzania was preparing for its general elections. In May 2016, the musician again made history when he premiered Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 'Choral' in Kiswahili, the first time this famous classical work had been performed in the language spoken in much of East and Central Africa.
Raymond's recent nomination for the Outlook Inspirations award comes not long after his work caught the attention of the US Department of State, who honoured him with an award for Promotional Social Change Through The Arts in early 2016.
Of the 50 nominees for the BBC award, three people will be chosen as Outlook Inspirations. They will be revealed by a panel of judges and honoured at a special event on Monday 4 July - the day of Outlook’s 50th birthday - during a live BBC World Service broadcast from the Radio Theatre in London. The winners will be selected by judges Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent; Indian social activist, actor and director Nandita Das; and Nunu Ntshingila from South Africa, a veteran advertiser and currently the head of Facebook in Africa.
According to Mary Hockaday from the BBC, “Outlook is at the very heart of what the BBC World Service does each day: sharing fascinating human stories from all corners of the world with a curious global audience. Outlook Inspirations shines a spotlight on the achievements of some of these unsung heroes, as we invite our listeners to look back - and ahead - in celebration of Outlook’s 50th anniversary year.”
For more details about Outlook Inspirations, visit their website.