Barack Obama helps Kenyan Youth Choir


2nd April 2010
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A Kenyan youth choir were flying high after signing a recording deal with the largest record company in the world, Universal Music, on Friday 23rd January. The Boys Choir of Kenya sealed the deal under unusual circumstances – they were in the transit lounge at Heathrow Airport on their way back from Washington D.C. where they had performed as part of Barack Obama’s inauguration celebrations.

The Boys Choir of Kenya, from Barack Obama’s fatherland, were the only international choir to take part in the inauguration, raising speculation that they are Obama’s favourite choir.

Universal Music’s A&R Manager, Tom Lewis, agrees with the new US President’s choir of choice. “The choir have already taken the US by storm. Their sound is amazing and when I saw them on YouTube, I knew they could light up the world. You can’t help but smile when you hear them sing.”

The unusual signing, which took place with special permission from Heathrow Airport, resulted after a frenetic couple of days for Tom Lewis, A&R Manager at Universal Classics and Jazz. Tom received a call from a music industry source tipping him off about the spectacular performance the choir gave in Washington D.C. and, after seeing a clip of them on YouTube, he knew quick action was needed.

Within 48 hours he had finalised a contract and gone to meet them off their plane when they transferred in London between Washington D.C. and Nairobi. The choir will now rub shoulders with an incredible roster of Universal Music artists including Amy Winehouse, U2 and The Rolling Stones.

The choir represent not only Obama’s historic election as US President, but also an emerging optimism about the future of Africa, representing a new generation of African children with hope. The choir perform a wide-ranging repertoire – from traditional Masaai and Samburu chants to contemporary pieces from around Africa.

Dickon Stainer, Managing Director of Universal Classics and Jazz, said, “The music of this choir will bring the spirit and hope of Africa to the entire world.”

They happened to be on tour in the US during the presidential election, and it has been suggested that their powerful performances helped to direct people towards Obama.

The choir are delighted with the record deal, not least because of its financial implications. Not only has the choir raised school fees for its members but several orphans have also found the choir to be their home. The choir therefore offers young Kenyans support and hope for the future.

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