There are various music genres associated with the Luo people. These include: Benga, Ohangla, Rhumba, Afro-fusion among others. By “Luo music”, I mean those songs sang, partly or fully, in Dholuo language, and not necessarily songs by musicians who hail from the Luo tribe. Luo music is arguably the most progressive. We decided to create this un-ordered list of some of the most notable artists.
1. Ayub OgadaHis song “Koth Biro” has been covered more than 20 times, allover the world. It was used as a movie soundtrack for “The Constant Gardner”, the 2005 Hollywood film shot in Kenya. He recently released a new album, Kodhi“, with Trevor Warren and it was later reviewed in the Guardian and Financial Times. Below is a rendition done by Andetag, a Swedish vocal quartet.
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2. Madanje PerimeterHe is a singer and a record engineer. He does Rhumba music, with most notable song being “Elector Nyarkano”.
3. Johnny JuniorOne of the top two of the biggest names in Luo/Rhumba. He has released many hit singles and albums.
4. Lady MaureenThe undisputed Queen of Ohangla. She writes songs about current or trending issues. Her song for Gor Mahia, the KPL giant, is stands as one oh her biggest records.
5. Dola KabarryHe is one of the last of the popular Benga era. His songs had rented the airwaves around the beginning of the millennium. He’s recently broke the hiatus with the release of a new album.
6. Prezda “Igwe” BandassonHis elegant grooming will definitely leave an impression on you. His smooth Rhumba songs are inclined towards romance.” Nyisuba” and “Yamo Oloko Kido” are two of my favorites from Prezda Bandasson.
7. Onyango AlemoThere is a time when his songs “Kuche Kuche” and “Tho Luro” could never miss a club session. He has gone underground but these songs remain on top.
8. Otieno AlokaWell, “Kanungo Eteko” is definitely a party-starter. It is the most popular Luo song among young and middle-aged Kenyans.
9. Emma JalamoJalamo is not very old in the game but the artist has come up with a unique Ohangla/Rhumba fusion that has taken the country by storm. Young and old alike, folks are hooked on to an Emma song. He started off as a Gospel music singer. His new album, “Sherry” is a masterpiece with hits like “Wivu mbaya”. We highlight “Simba Ja Uriri”, his first secular hit.
10.Tony NyadundoHe is a seasoned musician who has traveled wide. He is one of the pioneers of Ohangla sound. His singles made the genre popular.
11. Osogo Winyo
He has taken a low profile of late but he has some of the best Ohangla sounds of this decade.
12. MakademThe artist, once signed to signed to Ketebul Music, is known internationally. Known as Ohanglaman, he plays the Nyatiti and has added modern energy to it.
13. Suzanna OwiyoShe is one of the first female artists to fuse the Nyatiti tune with modern sound. She is most know for her breakthrough song, “Kisumu 100”. She is contemporary and remains relevant.
14. Anyango, Nyatiti DivaAlso known as the Nyatiti Diva, Anyango is a Japanese-born singer who traveled to Kisumu, Western Kenya to learn the Nyatiti. She is now regarded to be the first woman to play the lyre. She sings in Luo and Swahili, by the way. She had to learn these two languages. She’s won awards back home for her Nyatiti sound.
15. Awilo Mike and Jamnazi BandJamnazi band comprises of Awilo Mike and Milton Ongoro Jakarachuonyo. They gave us songs like “Am Not Sober” and “Riziki”, which are still hits right now.
16. Musa Jakadala This is the artist whose rise has been quite phenomenal. He has gone on to receive much buzz with his “Hera Remo” hit.
More artists continue to enter the scene but not very many manage to make it to the top. We will, thus, continue to update this list.
17. Osito Kalle
A benga music legend with many hits, Osito Kalle remains active in the Luo music scene.
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