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He received his first exposure to Western culture early on. When he was six, his parents (also musicians), toured the college circuit in the U.S. Ogada then returned to Kenya with his parents, and was educated in a Catholic school and then an English boarding school.
After finishing school, he co-founded the African Heritage Band in 1979 and played kit drums, bass and percussion for many years. The group fused traditional music with the sounds of rock and soul that Ogada and bandmates heard regularly on the radio. The singer also performs on the traditional east African stringed instrument, the nyatiti; he is also highly accomplished djembe player.
In 1986, he decided to take his talents abroad. Armed with his nyatiti (a lyre-like stringed instrument), he went to the U.K., and played on the streets for money. After the better part of a year, he was approached and asked to play at Peter Gabriel's WOMAD festival. In 1993, he recorded his first album, En Mana Kuoyo (Just Sand), on Peter Gabriel's Real World label. He toured extensively with WOMAD. In 1995, he participated at the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy, playing in the song "Dove vai" by Mango. He performed on two songs on World Diary, the debut album of bassist Tony Levin.
From 1997 to 2000 Ayub Ogada has worked in a project with musicians from Mari Boine band Roger Ludvigsen, Gjermund Silset and Helge A. Norbakken and musician/producer Giovanni Amighetti for several live concerts and release of some recordings as Salimie and Mudmo Gi Ta.
His music has been heard on the soundtrack of the 2000 release of I 'Dreamed of Africa'. His piece, "Kothbiro" appears in the soundtrack of the Mexican film "The Blue Room" based on the novel by Georges Simenon, over the credits in the 2005 film The Constant Gardener and in Samsara (2011). His music was used in the soundtrack for Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman's BBC series Long Way Round and Long Way Down.
Ogada has collaborated with Susheela Raman on several tracks on her "Salt Rain" album, such as "O Rama", and with Tony Levin on his album World Diary. In addition, he has collaborated with the Afro Celt Sound System on their first and fourth releases.
In July 2005 Ogada performed at the Live 8 concert, Eden Project as the opening act with his band, Union Nowhere, Ogada performing on a large replica of an historic Egyptian lyre. Ogada has embraced electronic recording techniques but remains exclusively acoustic in live performances.
On 8 March 2007 he released an album with Union Nowhere titled Tanguru. He moved back to Kenya in June 2007.
In March 2012, Ogada collaborated with Trevor Warren, who visited Kenya for two weeks to record Kodhi: Trevor Warren's Adventures with Ayub Ogada. The album Kodhi (seed) will be released on 20th April 2015 on Long Tale Recordings.
Also in 2012 Ayub was included in the making of Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee song which was by the CommonWealth band and Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber directed it.