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New-York Based Sabaot Musician Flying The Kenyan Flag High.
By DANIEL PSIRMOI

Pic:
Miriam Chemoss (Left) with congolese musician Awilo Longomba in  NewYork, 2005 (USA).

The saying ‘A prophet is not honored at home’ seems to have been coined with Miriam Chemmoss in mind, as it sums up the showbiz career of the talented New York based Kenyan diva. Although her music is more popular with East Africans in the USA and international audiences, she largely remains largely unknown to musical fans in Kenya.  

“I may not be  playing on mainstream Kenyan radio due to exposure and my being based here in the US,  but I do get some love from Kenyan audiences mainly through  the internet. ,” says   Miriam, also an accomplished  actress, songwriter and model, who reckons  that she knew from an early age that she belonged to the entertainment world.

She remembers with nostalgia participating in the Kenyan drama and music festivals in primary and secondary schools she attended in the country. In 1998 Miriam moved to the US after being awarded a full scholarship by Waldorf College, in Iowa to study Theater/Music and Media Studies.

 According to the songbird, the college she attended, a liberal arts school was a great foundation as she got an opportunity to sit for music lessons and private vocal coaching. After graduation in 2001, she moved to Washington DC where she continued getting training and experience singing at workshops, events and with various local bands.

“I moved to New York City in 2004 which remains my most memorable year, the year I took my musical ambitions to the next level. It is in New York where I began to develop my performance skills as a member of ‘The Marvalletes Revue’ under the direction of original Marvallete - Pam Darden, in a revival of the famous Motown girl group,” she explains, and quickly adds that while at  the group, she brushed shoulders on one stage with legendary groups such as   ‘Kool and The Gang’ , ‘The  Escorts’ and  ‘Soul Generations’ among others,” says  Miriam.

  A year later, Miriam joined the legendary ‘Soukous Star’ band; experts at Congolese Rhumba , under direction of the famous  Lokassa Ya Mbongo, Ngouma Lokito, Shiko Mawatu and winners of the 2004 International Reggae and World Music Awards.  She carved out a role among the male veterans as the sole female voice on both harmony and lead vocals.

By 2005, she had worked with several great musicians from Africa, the Caribbean and the US.  In the same year, Baby Black Ndombe son of the veteran Congolese musician Pepe Ndombe Opetum,  invited her  to feature on his number one single  and video called, " Let's Dance" from his US solo debut, ‘Teur de Babel’.

 She went solo in 2006, recorded and released ‘Rudi’ her first Swahili single that catapulted her to international fame after it topped charts in several radio stations across the globe.  The success of the single made her get featured in the Vibe Magazine of September 2007, where she was called ‘The Queen of African Urban Music’.

 She has since then gone ahead and recorded several singles including: Let’s Dance” (2008), ‘Love In Reverse’ (2009), ‘Africa’ (2010). In 2012 she completed and released her first album titled   ‘Lovebird’. Half of the songs in the volume - in which  she effortlessly blends global urban and folk influences from Reggae to Soukous and Taarab, on a bedrock of Rhythm & Blues and Hip-Hop-are done in a mixture of Swahili and English. It also contains one full dance song called Malaika that is all in Swahili.

“One of my goals for the use of both languages in the album is to reach a wider audience. I love Swahili having grown up in Tanzania and Kenya speaking Swahili sanifu. I have always thought that Swahili is a very poetic language.  Even a word like “kiroboto” as it rolls of your tongue sounds romantic and poetic,” she jokes, and adds that she is humbled that her new album is getting a lot of love from people around the world.  ‘Ode to Daddy’, ‘Unconditional Love’, and ‘Now Is the Time’, ‘Malaika’ and ‘Stronger’ are some of the popular songs in the album,” says the artist.               

                               MORE INFORMATION ON MIRIAM CHEMMOSS:

- She describes herself as ‘a proud East African of mixed heritage’ because of the diverse heritage and cultural background her immediate family. Her late father hailed from Mt Elgon, Bungoma County, and her mother is from Tanga, Tanzania while her late maternal grandfather was from Scotland.  She was born in Tanzania, but grew up in Kenya.

- She has also worked with the famed Lion King Composer, Lebo M, Bouro Mpela from Koffi Olomide’s group as well as many other Diaspora artists based in the US. She recently did a collabo, a reggae remix - Life’s Duality- with Sherwin Gardner, a multi award winning reggae gospel artist from the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago.

-  Miriam is passionate about the empowerment of youth and women.   She has over the years involved herself with non-profit organizations or performed in events that are geared towards uplifting the less fortunate in Africa. Currently she has teamed up professionals from her father’s Sabaot Community in the diaspora where they are assisting women, victims of the infamous 2006-2008 Sabaot Land Defence Force ( SLDF) that reigned terror on the lives of people residing in Mt Elgon .

 “I'm very passionate about these causes and will continue to team up with different groups and individuals who are involved in these kinds of causes in my homeland of Kenya,” she says.

-In 2010 co-starred with the award winninng Nigerian actor Ramsey Nouah, in a drama on the 2008 Kenyan post election violence.  She acted as ‘Waridi’ in the movie that was entitled ‘Taharuku’, which made its way around major film festivals in the world including New York and Durban Film festivals.

-  Her songs are available in 750 online digital stores all around the world including itunes and Amazon and working on getting the album available in Kenyan stores soon.

- Miriam who has been away from the country for the last  10 years intends in the very near future to come back home and establish a base in the  evolving local film and musical industry .

- She can be found online in the following sites:

Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/miriamchemmossful/videos?view=0

Official Site: http://www.miriamchemmoss.com

Blog: http://miriamchemmoss.wordpress.com/about/

http://www.facebook.com/miriam.chemmoss?ref=ts&fref=ts

                                      Source: Article Written by Daniel Psirmoi and first published by Standard Newspaper-Kenya.

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For this Kitale Couple, Music is a Family Affair.
By DANIEL PSIRMOI

Musicians Joshua and Lorna Chebitwey (center) pose for a photo with friends from Britain after a performance. 

Ordinarily many married couples would frown at the thought of working with their spouse, the obvious major reason being the delicate balancing act of domestic issues and business related issues.

  However, one couple in Kitale is proving the proponents of this view wrong. The man and wife musical duo, of Joshua and Lorna Chebitwey, both gospel musicians have jointly churned out three albums and are promising not to slow down any time soon.

Together the Chebitwey’s have risen to be the most sought after entertainers during sundry events such as national holidays, agricultural shows weddings, harambees and anniversaries in Western Kenya and North Rift.

The Kitale based couple who sing in Kiswahili, Pokot and their native Sabaot language have staged shows in different parts of the country, but are well known in Trans-Nzoia,West Pokot Counties  and also in Mt. Elgon area  in Bungoma County.  They are also regular visitors to Eastern Uganda where they have been invited to perform especially in among their Sebei kinsmen.  The Sebei are a sub-group of the Sabaot, residing in Uganda.

Kikwetu bumped into the couple at a pre-wedding ceremony at a homestead near Kitale, as they were performing their composition Ndoa (marriage) that is popular in weddings and marriage ceremonies. Their colourful dressing in traditional attire is eye-catching.  Their passion and synchronized stage performance is equally mesmerizing and gets even the coldest onlooker dancing along to the infectious beats and warm rhythm.

 “We are lucky we share almost similar backgrounds, we both hail from families that have musical backgrounds and both our parents are clerics. My wife was born and bred in Mt Elgon Sub- County while I grew up in West Pokot County,” says Joshua when I catch up with them after they exit the stage.

“That explains why are popular in the North Rift and in Mt Elgon part of Bungoma County, my home district,” adds Lorna with a chuckle.

Naturally they both got exposed to music at an early age, through singing in Sunday school and church seminars events where they accompanied their folks.

 How did the two of them meet, considering that you got similar interests but come from two regions   that are far flung from each other? I pose.

Lornah, who strikes the writer as the most talkative of the duo explains that their meeting was planned by God.

“While growing up, my childhood ambition was to be a prison warden, where I wanted to sing for inmates to change their ways and embrace salvation. After going for recruitment a couple of times unsuccessfully, I asked God to give me a husband that is a singer,” explains Lornah, before exchanging a knowing wink with her better half , as if it was a cue,  Joshua takes over,

“I tell people music brought us together. We actually met accidently in a motor vehicle almost 14 years, precisely December 1999. She was seated next to me in a truck I was driving. I put a favourite music cassette of mine to the stereo system that belonged to a celebrated gospel musician,” divulges Joshua.

“One particular song touched me; I got carried away and started singing along.  Interestingly Lorna who was by my side too got carried away and she started singing along with a beautiful voice. That is how we met, and the rest as they say is history!” he exclaims.

  Due to lack of funds and   the challenge of working together as a couple, they recorded their first volume as a duo entitled Twamshuru Mungu in 2004.

“Working together at first was tough, but we are now used to it.  We used to drag our personal issues to training sessions.  If we had domestic differences for example, we could not practice that day,” says Lorna.

 Over time they learned to put their differences aside and they started reaping the fruits. In 2009, they released their 2nd album titled Ndoa that has six singles namely Ndoa, Roho Yangu, Mama, Choono Kapee Kaap Baba( Come we go to our   heavenly father) , Jihadhari, Zaburi  100, Ni Nani and Sina Cha Kutamai. The first song in the volume has remained a great hit and popular in marriage ceremonies. The song partly recounts their personal experiences in matrimony and urges couples to stick to their better halves no matter the situation.

Ndoa just like all our other songs is inspired by the biblical scriptures, it is drawn from Genesis 2:18 and Deuteronomy 8:11-19.  The song explains to those getting the married what God’s plans are with the institution of marriage,” says Joshua who is also a motivational speaker, a part time MC, event organizer  and a lay leader at the Anglican Church all rolled into one. He is also an accomplished guitarist, accordion and bukandiit -a sabaot six stringed music instrument that is plucked like a guitar- player.

“Music has even brought us closer together.  The proceeds we get from it, being our major source of income, we cannot afford to record or perform jointly in any event when we are not in good terms with each other. We will be forced to reconcile first before hitting the stage as we complement each other in the songs we sing,” notes Lorna.

 Apart from the challenge of working together, they note that piracy and the fact that they have three young children (two boys and a last girl born girl who was born in 2009) slows them down at times.

Last year, the couple who say they are inspired by The Kassanga’s family who sing together, completed their third album Twendeni Askari.  Oriipkey( Take care of yourselves) and  Twende Kwa Yesu singles from the volume have received unprecedented airtime in local Kalenjin stations and also  regional Christian radio stations including Sayare, West Fm, Fish FM and Imani Radio.

 Like their role model, the Chebitwey’s intend to open up a recording studio and  music stores in the near future, in  the major towns in the North Rift region which will help in the distribution of their music and that of other artists. They also plan to start an artist mentorship program that will encourage upcoming musicians to reach where they are and further spread the Christian ministry.
Source: Article Written by Daniel Psirmoi and first published by Standard Newspaper-Kenya.

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Miriam Chemmoss 2013 releases "Lovebird" Album.
Uploaded on 16th January, 2013 by Esly Kania.

Happy New Year friends and I hope 2013 is off to a great

start.

I’m so sorry you’ve not heard from me in a while, perhaps
for a couple of years. You might have even forgotten about
me but one thing is for sure, I did not forget you.

The reason for being MIA is that I took some time off in
order to re-focus, un-learn some things, grow my
consciousness and evolve as an artist.

As my favorite poet, Rumi once said, "In silence, there is
eloquence'. During my hiatus, I was able to use my own
personal identity to weave a pattern of beautiful musical
motifs based on the universal themes of ‘Love’, 'Truth',
'Reconciliation' and 'Social Responsibility. And with the
help of my supporters and other talented artists, I recorded
an album titled, "Lovebird".

I'm excited to announce that on January 7th,
2013, "Lovebird" took flight and is now available in 750
digital stores in 100 countries. This album is my best work
to date and is a true labor of love.

Throughout this process, I have come to learn that you
cannot give that which you don’t have. In order to give
love, one must be loving because one cannot say “I love you”
without first saying the word “I”. I sing about this in my
first music video, "Self (love) In Reverse". Please Click
here
 to view the video.

One of my favorite tracks from the album is called “Now Is
The Time”. This song encourages us to wave a friendly
goodbye to the drama of the past, not to wait for tomorrow
and to embrace the present as a gift. Click here to see the
lyric video of this second single off the album.

There is truly no better time than NOW to get started on
whatever we yearn for in 2013. I wish you a great year ahead
and may ALL that you desire flow into your life
effortlessly.

Blessings!
Miriam Lulu Chemmoss
www.miriamchemmoss.com
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New Video-Music "life's Duality" by Miriam Chemmoss.
Uploaded on 16th January, 2013 by Esly Kania.


It is now 3 weeks into the year and if you are like me, you
must be wondering what 2013 has in store for you. While I
stay optimistic for a great year filled with many wonderful
things, I also acknowledge that life has its ups and down.
There will be joy and laughter....but there will also be
sadness and tears.

As I look back into my own life and reflect on past
disappointments and failures, I recognize on a deep level
that sometimes disappointments can lead us to a better
place. As the wise saying goes, 'When one door closes,
another one opens".

And so I have come to accept that life is simple, yet
sometimes it can get complicated. 

I’ve always wanted to write a song about life as it really
is; the good, the bad and the ugly.

   Could there be life without death?
   Are there times when right is wrong?
   Do all endings lead to new beginnings?

Life's Duality is a song I wrote about the seasonal nature
of life. Things are born and things also die. Things get
stronger while other things weaken. Sometimes it rains and
sometimes it’s clear. You too, have seasons and that’s ok.

During good times, I relish and enjoy every moment and
during tough times, it helps to know that 'this too shall
pass'.

Whatever season you are in, whether a beginning or an
ending, I hope this song speaks to you. Click here to watch
the lyric video.

By the way, thank you for all your wonderful comments on the new album.
It's available on iTunes & other stores or you can buy it from
www.miriamchemmoss.com for exclusive bonuses.

Blessings!
~~~
Miriam Lulu Chemmoss