African Elvis brings country music to Kenya - BBC News

African Elvis brings country music to Kenya - BBC News
Up Close & Personal with Sir Elvis [K24 Alfajiri]
Sir Elvis (photo from pri.org)

Kenyans have been listening to country for 50 years -- ever since Kenya gained independence from Britain. The songs were especially popular in the country’s farming areas. But the homegrown country music industry in Kenya still has a long way to go. One artist driving the movement forward is Elvis Otieno, known as "Sir Elvis."

Interview:

NICK SCHIFRIN: On a Wednesday night in Kenya’s capital, the music is flowing. We’re six thousand miles from Tennessee. But tonight Nairobi looks — and sounds — a lot like Nashville.

Elvis Otieno — that’s his real name — was born in 1977, the same year Elvis Presley died. Otieno’s parents named him after The King–sealing his fate.

ELVIS OTIENO: I tried everything I could in my life to be an engineer – an aeronautical engineer. But it was never to be, because I think music was my calling.

NICK SCHIFRIN: He’s now known as “Sir Elvis.” He thought about becoming a rock musician. But he identified more with country.

ELVIS OTIENO: It’s down home stories that I resonate with.

NICK SCHIFRIN: When he started performing 10 years ago, he was the first Kenyan to sound like the original artists.

ELVIS OTIENO: If you’re playing Beethoven, you have to sound authentically Beethoven. If I sing Jim Reeves, it has to have a silky velvet way of it.

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