In January 2017, I was invited to go and use my Kabantu skills for good, in Kenya.
Music for Kenya (www.musicforkenya.com) is a charity set up by my friend Jess Hall as a legacy after her mother died of cancer. Her mother had always wanted to help disadvantaged children and Jess, a professional violinist, felt music was the route to enable long lasting connections between her mother and kids who have very limited access to music and training.
The project involved 10 professional musicians travelling to Kenya for a fortnight working in schools and hospitals using music to spread joy and help create partnerships.
I met Jess through the charity Live Music Now, which Kabantu also work for. Like Music for Kenya, LMN aims to provide music and concerts to those who might not normally have access to it.
On the trip I met about 3000 children over the course of two weeks, cramming in school after school into our crazy schedule. I undertook a residency teaching rhythm sticks with some childen for two days, culminating in a performance to the entire school. I jammed and collaborated with a Kenyan choir called 'The Melody Singers', and we sang one of the songs going on Kabantu's new album called 'Malaika'. I even formed a new band that we called 'The Cheetaz' and wrote raps and songs with teenagers in the orphanage.
Music is such a powerful tool that overrides language, culture, class and physical barriers like a universal glue. Really, music is the language of the world. It was amazing how as soon as we began playing, communication just flowed, despite us being from completely different parts of the world. Music should be shared, and this experience showed the joy made possible by music - an unforgettable experience.
I feel very honoured to have been a part of this project. Kabantu do a lot of work like this with schools in the UK, giving interactive workshops and trying to use music as a force for good. I learnt so much from going and intend to input this new knowledge into Kabantu’s future work with kids.
Delia Stevens (percussionist, Kabantu)
Check out Live Music Now