Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown And Rick Braun Set To Headline The Safaricom International Jazz Festival In February 


The celebration marking the 5th edition of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival will be held on 29th February 2018 at the Kasarani Training Grounds. The festival has always aimed to promote jazz music and make it more accessible to fans by bringing jazz musicians from all the world. This year to headline the show will be the top charting American Jazz trio BWB.

The trio titled after the three names of the band members came together in 2002. On the guitar, we have Grammy Award-winning Contemporary Jazz and R&B guitarist and vocalist, Norman Brown, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum and Chart-topping trumpeter Rick Braun.  Their first album ‘Groovin’ which they recorded in 2002 was a collection of covers. They reunited over a decade later in 2013 and released their second album ‘Human Nature’ which was a tribute to Michael Jackson’s songbook. This album brought them their first number one hit, ‘Shake Your Body- Down to the Ground’ which was all composed form their own original material. They are expected to sample most of their performances from this album.


Their most recent album with ten songs is the first album the trio have done that has a mixture of contemporary jazz, R&B, soul and funk joints. The band members have also had budding solo careers as well. Norman Brown has sold close to 2 million albums in his entire career and has shared the stage with the likes of Contemporary Jazz superstar, Boney James and Dave Koz to Gerald Albright.


Kirk Whalum’s career has seen him scoop several awards like including three Dove Award nominations, and NAACP Image Award nomination. He has also won two Stellar Awards-Gospel music’s highest honour. He is also a twelve-time Grammy nominee, who won his first Grammy award in 2011 for Best Gospel Song ‘It’s what I do’ featuring Lalah Hathaway. Both Brown and Whalum are not new to Kenya having performed alongside Gerald Albright and Sheléa Frazier at the Safaricom Jazz Lounges in Nairobi and Mombasa in December 2016. Rick Braun who will be visiting Kenya for the first time is a multi-talented jazz musician who plays the trumpet, flugelhorn, valve trombone and also sings. His musical voice and eclectic influences have allowed him to collaborate across genre with some of the biggest names in music including Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, Sade, Natalie Cole and REO Speed Wagon.

Since its inception, Safaricom has donated over 37 million in proceeds from the event to Art of Music Foundation to scale up its Ghetto Classics programme and expand it to Mombasa. There are plans to branch out to Kisumu in the next year. Over 400 boys and girls aged below 18 years are benefitting from the programme which is using the funds raised to purchase music instruments provide training and finance basic needs such as school fees and shelter for the children and their families.

This year the event targets donating Kshs 20 million for Ghetto Classics who will be performing alongside Jimek, a Polish composer and music producer known for his wildly popular History of Hip Hop composition. Other performances will include Kenyan favourites’ Mambo Tribe and Limericks. You can check out their interview for the Mambo Tribe here and Limericks here.

The Betty Bears from Israel will also grace the stage with the band members; Black Betty Ella Daniel (Vocal), Evyatar Hermesh(Double-bass), Matan Ben David (Guitar), Yoel Shemesh Gold (Piano), Amitai Mann (Clarinet), Avior Rokah (Trumpet), Udi Raz (Trombone) and Guy Fleisher(Drums). Lean from Belgium, Joya Wendt from Germany and Gloria Bosman from South Africa will also entertain the crowd with their classical jazz tunes.

Ticket Prices go on sale on 2nd February 2018 at;

  • Kshs 10,000 per person and Kshs 150,000 per corporate table for the VIP show to be held on Friday 23rd February 2018
  • Kshs 2,000 and Kshs 500 for regular and student tickets respectively for the main show.
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