2004 – present (14 years)
Yunasi is a Kenyan group that has developed a unique East African music style called SESUBE which is a combination of sega, isukuti and benga. It takes sounds and inspirations from local Kenyan communities, cultural styles and languages and fuses those sounds with a European component. The sound is achieved by playing a variety of instruments, both traditional and modern.
Their line-up is as follows: Benson Mutua - lead vox, Davis Ngalah - Nyatiti & vox, Estelle Lannoy - accordion & vox, Erick Odhiambo - Calabash & vox, Dominic Odhiambo - percussion & vox, Symon Maranga - percussion & vox, Thobias Imani - lead guitar, Charles Owino - bass guitar, Matthew Rabala - drums
In December 2007 Yunasi were voted 'overwhelming' winners of the BBC 'Next Big Thing' competition, From over 2000 acts from 88 countries Yunasi were voted outright winners by a panel of top music industry judges including Talvin Singh, William Orbit, Nile Rodgers and Tahita Bulman.
In March 2006, YUNASI were announced the prize-winners at the prestigious US International Songwriting Contest for the song JI OPOGORE (The Difference of People) obtaining third-place in the World Music category out of 16,000 entries from all over the world.
They also won the 2004 Kisima Award for best afro-fusion band in Kenya and were nominated for an all-African Kora award in South Africa in 2003. The band comprises 8 men from East Africa and a French woman and they sing in several languages including Swahili, English, French, Luo, Kisii and Luhya.
'Since 2001 the group has performed in Kenya, France, Germany, Belgium, Mayotte, Djibouti, Tanzania and London. Their shows are "tight". With fantastic insrumental and vocal harmonies, soulful and contemplative one minute and pumping explosive rythms the next, they guarantee satisfaction to those who enjoy listening as well as dancing' (Sauti Za Busura).
In 2008 YUNASI were invited to appear as the top act at the world famous Sauti Za Busara Swahili music festival in Zanzibar and are the first ever Kenyan band to be invited to play at Bluesfest East Coast Blues and Roots festival in Byron Bay, Australia, the biggest music festival in the Southern hemisphere.
Yunasi has managed to collaborate with international artists for recording and joint performances. The band collaborated with a Belgian Blues artiste, Roland van Campenhout, in the album, “Atomic Power” which won the best folk album in the 2006 Belgian ZAMU Awards. This was preceded by joint concerts in Nairobi and Belgium. The band also collaborated with a French singer, Nicoletta to perform concerts in Nairobi and Paris.
The band members all sing and play instruments including the traditional instruments like Nyatiti, percussions, calabash, as well as modern instruments (guitars, bass guitars ,accordion). The band has under its belt two albums, being, “Nang'i Amana, My Land My Life” released in 2002, and “Nairobi, The Sounds of Sesube” launched in 2007.
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