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The Story of Ghetto Jazz Musician Lameck Otieno

Lameck was born in Korogocho slum, a neighbourhood whose future appeared bleak from the moment he was born.

At birth, Lameck was subjected to the often ignored hardship life characterised by hand-to-mouth struggles and was exposed to the crime-filled genres of hip hop and reggae.

Judging by the environs, the troubled child was only destined to become what most people from slums amounted to, a “hustler”- a term glorified by the virtuous world of tales but whose success can only be attested by a handful of people.

His life was marred with sorrow – day after day; from missing meals to living in a neighbourhood dictated by crime and with an infrastructure so wanting that the sound of success is a cliched talk meant to while away time.

However, in order to forget all that, Lameck has developed a passion with his violin and the broader classical music family.

“Music to me is love because when I play music, it comforts me, it shows me love and it reminds of what I’m going to be in future of which I plan to be a professional violinist,” Lameck enthusiastically disclosed.

Grateful, he attributes his renewed zeal in life to the Ghetto Classics music programme which has provided him with income generating opportunities.

The music programme targeting children from the slums of Korogocho, Huruma, Dandora and Mukuru kwa Reuben has been supported by proceeds from the Safaricom International Jazz Festival since 2014.

“Safaricom International Jazz Festival is the best event where we have performed. When we were still young in music, they showed us love, they appreciated what we were doing of which I thank them,” he proclaimed.

Just like Lameck, 1,400 other children from Kenyan slums have found a purpose when equipped with skills in live music performance. Ghetto Classics has had a major impact in breaking the cycle of poverty that many of them are born into.

To empower the society and sharpen the children’s skills to international levels, however, it is paramount that they train alongside the best in the business.

That is why, in 2014, Safaricom flew in Richard Bona, a respected Jazz artist and in 2015, the children also had the chance to train alongside Jimek – a chance that opened their voices to greater possibilities – sounds of triumph.

This great achievement will be in full display during the 6th edition of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival.

The festival scheduled for 11th-17th February 2019 will be headlined by two-time Grammy Winner Marcus Miller who was appointed a UNESCO Artist For Peace.

Ghetto classics are part of the line-up for the supporting acts together with Kenyan guitarist Kato Change, The Safaricom Youth Orchestra, Jazzrausch Bigband (Germany), Toine Thys Trio feat Herve Samb (Belgium), Yazmin Lacey (United Kingdom), Viviane (Portugal) and the Omri Mor Trio (Israel).

Two-time Grammy Winner Marcus Miller
This year, you have a chance to be entertained while supporting something greater than life – the dreams of talented youth like Lameck.

The event tickets are going for only Ksh2,000 and Ksh500 (students).

All proceeds from ticket sales of the events have empowered poor children from Mombasa and Nairobi with KSh60 Million having being used to improved their talent.

This year presents another opportunity to be part of the movement seeking to expand the drive that now includes Kisumu.

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