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Ciku Kimeria
Writer, Adventurer, Development Consultant, Travelblogger
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piqer: Ciku Kimeria
Friday, 19 May 2017

Music Breaks Borders — Reflections After Chris Cornell's Death

News of Chris Cornell's passing has hit hard. Music lovers worldwide felt this loss. As a Kenyan music lover, I was not affected any less. It got me reflecting on how music traverses borders and how artists have fans in countries they might not even know about. 

In my late teens, Wednesdays at one of Kenya's most popular clubs, Carnivore, was the place to be. Wednesday was rock night. Thousands of Kenyans would flock to Carnivore to dance the night away to the likes of NirvanaLinkin Park, Puddle of Mudd, Hoobastank, Evanescence, etc.

As I play my Chris Cornell favorites on repeat — Like a stone, I am the highway, Black hole sun, etc. — I wonder if anyone knows what a following rock had in Kenya in the late 90s and early 2000s. Saturdays we woke up early to listen to Rick Dees and the weekly top 40s. I was not impressed when I moved to the US and could not find people who knew this show. I felt slight judgement for my love of Shania Twain. In Kenya, Shania Twain was counted as rock. I recall dancing on stage in Carnivore to Shania Twain's I'm gonna getcha good, and feeling as if life would be complete only when I got to meet Shania and party with her. 

We never had to reflect on whether our tastes were black enough — I was born and raised in a country of majority black people where people sang along to Kenny Rogers songs with as much passion as if it was our national anthem. Sometimes a Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Charlie Pride, Jim Reeves or even Skeeter Davis song plays and I get nostalgic. I am back as a child sitting in our living room, a record on the LP,  my father strumming along his guitar, my mother singing with as much passion as if she is auditioning for a church choir position. 

This particular NPR interview from years back captures this cross-over of music so well. NPR was surprised to find out that Kenyans are crazy about country music, while I was surprised to find out that they did not know Kenny Rogers is from my village.

Music traverses borders.

Music Breaks Borders — Reflections After Chris Cornell's Death
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