Isaiah Katumwa Starts “This Is Me” East African Tour


Last Friday some fans of Isaiah Katumwa were treated to a night of great Jazz music at the Nairobi Serena. Isaiah Katumwa also used the opportunity to showcase his custom made Diamond Soprano Sax which is plated with 2700 diamonds. The sax is a limited edition diamond studded Soprano Sax by CE Winds based in Florida. Isaiah was with his son Mitchell (who is 13) who also wowed the audience with his piano, guitar and singing skills.  The event was graced by the Ugandan High Commissioner Angelina Wapakhabulo and also the Ugandan Ambassador to Geneva. The private listening party was sponsored by Nairobi Serena Hotel.

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Isaiah was in Nairobi to launch his East African tour which will cover Nairobi, Kigali and Kampala. The tour is dubbed “this is me.” The tour comes at a great time as right now his music is topping a jazz music countdown for the past six weeks in California, USA. “Smooth 97 The Oasis” is an internet Only Radio Station that plays the perfect blend of Smooth Jazz and some adult Contemporary Music.

Isaiah said the “this is me” album contained the 3 elements that influenced his music – musical influences, faith and identity. “The album is a chance to finally create original Jazz music reflecting the African continent.” Isaiah asked a very important question “How much do we as Africans contribute to global music? Jazz is a global language but we all bring something different to it” Isaiah said that the album was part of his contribution to global music, showcasing what Africans can do. “The story behind the album is that I love being original and authentically African.  It’s easy to find people duplicating what others are doing in the West, trying to be something they’re not. This album is a pure reflection of me, my Ugandan and African roots”

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Isaiah said he choose Nairobi as the place  to start his tour because of the fans. He said it was humbling that people know him and appreciate his music. The album “this is me” has 10-track album with titles in Swahili and English, the project opens with the song ‘Pamoja’ (together) and also includes a bonus track, ‘Special Feelings’.

Isaiah kicked off his tour with a performance at Daystar University, where he played and had a discussion with music students. Isaiah who is self-taught said that musicians have a lot of influence and it is important to use it for good. This is why he has a mentorship program and would also take the opportunity to encourage the young musicians. He also shared his creative his creative journey in compiling his tenth album which was endorsed by Grammy Award winner Kirk Whallum.

Isaiah Katumwa (middle) with his son Mitchell Katumwa
Isaiah Katumwa (middle) with his son Mitchell Katumwa

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Rahab Nderu, Isaiah’s tour manager said that the tour would provide jazz lovers in the region an opportunity to celebrate music that embraces African roots alongside the sound of smooth jazz and reflects Isaiah’s divine beliefs.

Isaiah Katumwa has performed before in Kenya, most recently at the Safaricom Jazz Festival. He has performed side by side with global icons such as Jonathan Butler, Hugh Masekela and Jimmy Dludlu and has opened performances for Miriam Makeba and Manu Dibango. His album ‘This Is Me’ is available at Nakumatt stores and at Serena Hotel Nairobi. You can also buy it on itunes, CDbaby and Amazon.

Isaiah Katumwa is self taught and it is amazing that he plays the way he does without a formal music education. The singer-songwriter now has 11 albums under his belt. He is also a co-director He is a co-director at 106.1 Jazz FM, which is based in Kampala.

Katumwa has recorded 11 albums, namely: We Will Worship (2001); Saxohymns (2002); We Three Kings (2003); Sax Worship (2004); Celebrate Africa (2005); Sinza (2006); Coming Home (2007); Another Step (2009); Sinza Too (2010) and African Smoothie (2011) and his latest album is This Is Me. “This is me” was launched in Los Angeles, US in April.

At a press conference on Thursday Isaiah talked about the struggles he went through, having sometimes to walk great distances to get to where he was supposed to be playing, because he couldn’t afford fare. Isaiah said he did the best with the opportunities he had. He wanted to play music so he taught himself although it wasn’t easy. He says his faith in God and himself is what kept him going.

Dr. Wandia Njoya who was present at the press interview representing Daystar said

Photos courtesy of Rahab Nderu.

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