US star's trip to Kenya sparks rumours of musical collaboration

American singer-songwriter, record producer, activist and actress Erykah Badu was in Kenya and Tanzania recently. The reason for her visit was reportedly a photo shoot for an American magazine, although some are now speculating on the possibility of her collaborating with local musicians.

US soul singer Erykah Badu. Photo: erykah-badu-com
US soul singer Erykah Badu. Photo: erykah-badu-com

On 7 June popular Kenyan blogger Buddha Blaze tweeted that Badu was in Nairobi. While many may have ignored it as a joke, the star later posted a video of herself with the caption “Hujambo Nairobi, Kenya !” (kiSwahili for ‘Hello’). Ms Badu was indeed in Kenya, albeit briefly, after spending time in Zanzibar. Her personal Facebook page reveals some photos of her trip.

Now Kenyan music fans are speculating that the star might be looking to collaborate with local artists. According to a recent article in The Star, the singer is said to have met several artists "maybe in an effort to formulate ideas of how they can work together." According to the article's source, "she has also heard about Coke Studio and she wanted to check it out too. She is so much into music and she loves African music." It was also hoped that she might "also show up as a DJ at a hip-hop event in Nairobi". In April 2014, Badu performed a DJ set in Johannesburg club Taboo, using her moniker DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown.

The 44-year-old is also said to have toured Olepolos, an area about 40km south-west of Nairobi, and did other "normal things many foreign visitors do when in Kenya - a game drive in Maasai Mara and touring the Maasai market."

It’s not the American star’s first visit to the country. In December 2012 she performed at the Tusker Lite Experience at Nairobi’s Carnivore Lounge. Back then she told her fans in an interview: “I’m happy to be in Africa again. Every time I land, something inside me just wants to fall on my knees. This is the original place, this is my origin, so I feel good, I’m happy to be here."

Elaborating on her relationship with the continent, she continued: “I’m connected to Africa because about four generations back my family is from Africa. We were brought to America. That’s my connection. As an African who lives in America, we have to sometimes create our own history, because it’s very hard to trace. We have to create communites and tribes of our own to identify with. Because we know we want to belong to Africa in some kind of way, but our birthright is not in place, so we have to create things sometimes…”

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