A decade long collaboration between a London-based record label and a non-profit organisation in Kenya has reached an incredible milestone: 10 million views on their official YouTube channel. It’s a remarkable achievement that shows this project is heading towards its mission of global awareness of the traditions and cultures of East African music.
Singing Wells reached the milestone after a decade of sourcing musicians, planning field trips and recording live performances of traditional music groups across East Africa. Their YouTube channel, dedicated to sharing the performances they’ve captured, has a subscriber count of almost 50,000.
The collaboration between London-based record label, Abubilla Music, and Ketebul music, a non-profit organisation based in Kenya, is committed to identifying, preserving and promoting the diverse musical traditions of East Africa. The project is supported by UK charity, Abubilla Music Foundation.
Together they created the Singing Wells Project to record, archive and share the extraordinary cultural music heritage of the region, to ensure it is not lost for the generations to come, but also to share how it still has relevance in music today.
One video that has done particularly well on the channel is that of Johnston Mukabi, son of legendary Kenyan artist George Mukabi, performing a cover of his father’s song ‘Mtoto si Nguo’. This video alone has amassed 1.9 million views and has viewers commenting their delight at hearing this classic once again.
Speaking on the project’s success, Tabu Osusa, founder of Ketebul Music and co-founder of Singing Wells, said “One thing that I have learned and experienced in the past 10 years, during Singing Wells Field Recording trips, is that none of the polyrhythmic music and dances, performed by musicians from one village to another, are similar. When you really get to know these people well, you realize that each song has a deep secret and meaning well hidden within the beats. And that every tribe has a unique story to tell. Stories which can only be revealed and interpreted through their music.”.
Founder of Abubilla Music Foundation and co-founder of Singing Wells, James Allen, said on the success, “Of course viewing numbers alone don’t tell you we’re achieving our goals. What I love is what is underneath. So many videos have over 20,000 views each and we see in the comments that they are clearly supported by the local communities of the musicians. People are using the videos to reconnect to their villages. Teachers are using the videos to teach about the great cultural heritage of these communities. Parents are showing them to their children. Musicians are sharing them for inspiration. That is what matters and we love how active these communities are in supporting their musicians. The musicians, of course, need far more support and we hope we can help by promoting the incredible artistry of East Africa.”.
To mark the occasion, Singing Wells are celebrating their favourite moments and achievements across their social media channels. You can keep up-to-date with their latest projects and plans by following them at @singingwells or heading to their website.