Soundcloud Premiere: Ayub Ogada – Kothbiro

In 1989, Peter Gabriel set up Real World Records, aimed to record the musicians that played his WOMAD Festival and provide them opportunities that had alluded them in their home countries; namely a high quality studio and a record deal in the west. Where Real World succeeded was supporting and respect the artist and recording in a way that was sensitive to their craft, allaying Gabriel’s initial concerns that they would act as “a poacher and a gamekeeper simultaneously”.  25 years on, the Real World catalogue represents one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the world and is celebrated in a 48-track compilation.

Our favourite is by Ayub Ogada, regarded as one of the greatest Kenyan musicians of all time. He first composed ‘Kothbiro’ when he was in a high school rock band and it came to be the centrepiece to his 1993 album En Mana Kuoyo;his first and only for Real World. He appeared at WOMAD in 1988, after being discovered busking on the Northern Line and was invited by Gabriel to one of the legendary ‘recording weeks’ at Real World, where the album was put together.

‘Kothbiro’ is disarmingly simple – just Ogada and and the nyati, an East African lyre. It’s fitting that this should be Ogada’s contribution to Real World 25, as it demonstrates the inseparable relationship between musician and instrument. “When you start to play this instrument, you practically get married,” Ogada once said. “She won’t like you to play another instrument. You play, and you enter a contract, and you have to be serious. Suits me fine; I’m happily married.” Ogada remains faithful to this day and ‘Kothbiro’ provides a fine representation for a remarkable 48 song tribute to a game-changing label.

Real World 25 is out now, available from their website.

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