Them Mushrooms

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Them Mushrooms

Them Mushrooms is a musical band from Kenya, playing mostly Chakacha, some Benga and also some reggae. They are most famous for the Swahili song Jambo Bwana. The band is composed of Teddy Kalanda, Henry Ndenge Saha and Ben Mutwiwa. They mainly do covers of previously written hit songs.

The group was founded in 1969 as Avenida Success. The original line-up consisted of brothers Teddy Kalanda, Billy Sarro, George Zirro, John Katana and two other members. A fifth brother Dennis Kalume Harrison joined two years later. In 1972 the group was renamed Them Mushrooms.[1]

The group originally played the beach hotel circuit in Mombasa until 1986, with its coastal music influences. They then moved to Nairobi in 1987.[2] The group almost disbanded in 1992, when its drummer and songwriter Dennis Kalume died, and George Zirro left the band preferring a solo career.[1] The group was renamed Uyoga band in 2002,[3] but the name "Them Mushrooms" has since been taken back.[4]

In 2009 bandleader John Katana was among four pioneering Kenyan artists given Head of State Commendation awards by president Mwai Kibaki. Musician John Nzenze was among the others [5]

Legacy and History[edit]

The group was founded in 1969 as Avenida Success. The original line-up consisted of brothers Teddy Kalanda, Billy Sarro and two other members Pritt Nyale, Dennis Kalume Harrison (now deceased) and George Zirro Harrison who left the group for a solo career. Other musicians have joined the band to keep it going strong.[6]

The band took their name from the mystical magic mushroom species, that grow wildly across the depths of Africa's rain forests. They are seen as East Africa's premier band.

This group rose to fame with a distinct blend of taarab and sega/Benga folk music, before taking to chakacha and spicing it up with rap and hip-hop beats. African influences included Franco of TPOK Jazz from Congo, Egypt 80 and Manu Dibango of Cameroon while in the international front it was Otis Redding, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Kool and the Gang, Earth, Wind and Fire, and also Madonna.[7]

Originally from Mombasa, this group played the beach hotel circuit until 1986, using classical coastal influences.

One of the most famous of their songs is 'Jambo Bwana' which is on the lips of every tourist who visits Kenya. Penned by Teddy Kalanda, the band leader, this song went on to sell 30,000 copies. Jambo Bwana, borrowed from a popular Kenyan folk song of the same name was an instant hit in the 1980s.

Their songs have been sampled far and wide all over the world. One of their hits, Ndogo Ndogo, was adapted as soundtrack of the Paul Singh produced Kiswahili language film titled Mahari.

Discography[edit]

Them Mushroom have released several albums:[8]

  • Jambo Bwana (1980) (Rocking in Africa / Greetings and Respect / Nyimbo Za Daktari / Madd Maddo Maddest / Lady / Oh Twaila / Jambo Bwana / Was 1st Lost Mama / What You See / Comment Allez-Vous / Come Stare / John Lennon / Ronja / Wanamziki Si Wakora)
  • Mama Africa (1983
  • New Horizons (1985)
  • At the Carnivore (1987
  • Going Places (1988
  • Almost There (1989
  • Where We Belong (1990
  • Zilizopendwa 91 (1991
  • Zilizopendwa 92 (1992
  • Kazi Ni Kazi (1996)
  • Ni Hiyo (1998)
  • Oh! Twalia (1998)
  • Jambo Bwana (1999)
  • Songs from Kenya (2000) (Jambo Bwana / Mushroom Soup / Wazee Wakumbuke / Wazee Wakatke / Zilizo Pendwa / Za Kale Zipo / Malaika / Wamsheba Wamsheba / Si Nguo / Kama Zamani / Hapo Kale)
  • Zilizopendwa 2000 (2000)
  • Uyoga (2004)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Standard, August 27, 2009: Why do bands break up?
  2. ^ Kenya: Journey through a rhythm nation, BBC News World: Africa. August 30, 1999.
  3. ^ Museke: Uyoga
  4. ^ The Standard, June 7, 2009: Them Mushrooms back with a bang
  5. ^ Daily Nation, June 5, 2009: Three sing their way to glory
  6. ^ Them Mushroom. Youtube
  7. ^ Them Mushrooms
  8. ^ I Big Q Entertainment Unlimited