Seite wählen

Nina Ogot


The new release Ukumbu.KE is a compact nine-track album with a fresh appeal. It is proof, once again, of Ogot‘s thoughts and feelings as a live performer: not one to create an artificial product designed on a producer’s desk, but rather one that echoes live compositions from music speakers, recorded by her full band. Sparkling guitars, easily grooving percussions and melodic-jolly horns complement one another perfectly with the competently recited verses of the Kenyan whose unique vocal timbre shows a brilliant advantage.

Ukumbu.KE tells of the singer’s old and recent memories, personalised cultural moments: Nearly forgotten traditional music and tales, memorable movies, legendary TV maestros, all kinds of images from her childhood and parts of her adulthood come back to life in her songs – and on the CD cover, Nina Ogot presents herself humorously as a cartoon character travelling back into her past. Winkingly, the songstress inserts a rearranged version of one of her favourite pieces on this new album‘s playlist. A song originating from her debut release back in 2008 which now attests to her impressive musical evolution. This melodic chant Chokoraa addressing the plight of the street people has grown from laid-back guitar acoustics to a dramatic call-to-action musical performance by her eight-piece band.

On Ukumbu.KE, Ogot shows how memories shape even the modern Kenyan society. She reinforces the cultural root while making references to traditional music: Taarab and Bango melodies from Kenya’s coast, percussive Isukuti of the Luhya and the spiritual Dodo rythms of the Luo people. The album title contains a word game, transferring ukumbu (memories in Swahili) into a modern context using the form ukumbuke (let us remember), but spelled “.KE” like a Kenyan website domain. Though Nina Ogot remains true to singing exclusively in the national language Swahili as well as in her own mothertongue which is Dholuo.

Still, the album theme does not mean that this music would be stuck in a nostalgic past. While memories tend to work like a binary image that turns the former reality into a static black and white scene, this sound revives its roots to create a colourful and very present experience, like what these memories have been in their present age. The new songs twinkle, Ogot’s endowed rhythm group drives the groove effortlessly, horns and guitars unfold wonderful hooklines; but most of all, once again, the singer herself captivates through her very own briskness, aplomb and sensuousness.

While Nina Ogot, the cosmopolitan, worked with mostly European musicians on her previous release dubbed “Dala”, her decision to record this fourth album Ukumbu.KE in her hometown Nairobi in order to capture the authentic Kenyan vibe is a sound one. Her horn section, arranged and recorded in Germany, is the disctinct international note on this record. The singer, who is also the composer of all the songs, has chosen a less experimental and more resolute style of arrangements, compared to the previous albums.



“Die vielköpfige kenianisch-deutsche Band ist absolut top: satte Bläsersätze, dynamische Rhythmussektion, feiner Chorgesang bestimmen den melodischen Mix aus Benga, Soukous, Reggae und RnB. ”  – FOLKER




Album / 03.05.2024


Album / 22.05.2020
4 26031403142 8


Hey!blau Records
Jonas Holland-Moritz

Nuzzcom / Lucia Zimara

Utta Fritsche / U-Ton Booking