George Mukabi is a mythical figure across East Africa, known for his incredible fingerstyle guitar and hard living. Mukabi invented a solo technique in which melody, rhythm and bass lines all merged in two hands on one guitar. Combined with his gentle raspy voice, wood and glass percussion, and the harmonies of his companion Jack Malenya, he created a sweet and thriving “omutibo” music that belied his tough reputation and untimely death.
An imposing man who was both respected and feared, he sang of the tumults of marriage, morality and life in Kenya on the cusp of independence. He sold hundreds of thousands of records in East and Central Africa before his murder in 1963, leaving behind just a few dozen beautiful songs and a complicated legacy.
This is the first comprehensive release of his music outside of East Africa. We traveled to Kenya to meet Mukabi’s surviving son Johnstone, as well as a generation of the artists he inspired. Their stories are included in a 12-page oral history which includes lyrics in Swahili and English and full color photos. Restoration and Mastering by Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic Sound. Co-released by Raw Music International and Olvido Records.