I met 32-year-old Liz Ogumbo, an immensely talented fashion designer, vocalist, radio host and TV producer, eight years ago as she laid the final tracks of her debut album KenSoul. Even then she wanted her music to have an impact on listeners and showcase the soul of her homeland, Kenya, and African creativity.
With her second album, KenSoul: The Lotus Chapter, Jo’burg-based Ogumbo hopes her lyrics encourage listeners to help solve society’s challenges. “I’d like people to be moved to action when they listen to my songs. Music is life, and I want this to reflect in those who take in songs such as Msenangu, which reflects just how much I appreciate East African music,” she says.
In conveying her messages through music, Ogumbo draws on reggae, jazz, blues and traditional East African music. Her impressive versatility is on full display on this album: scatting on blues track Georgie Porgie and being wonderfully sultry on soulful gem Mon Homme. It’s dazzling stuff.
In one of her most beautiful songs, Ubuntu, she delivers the Kiswahili lyrics “Ubuntu kwa kila mtu”, which mean “I am because you are, because we are” with such conviction that her listeners are left wondering what they can do for others.
“I want people to feel guilty for not doing absolutely everything they can to improve Africa. The time to complain is over and we’re now all about action. We need to use our resources and talents to ensure the world takes Africa more seriously. We need to realise that we’re responsible for our own success and that we can’t look beyond our shores for our saviours,” notes Ogumbo.
What has also intensified with the recording and performing artist, over the last eight years is her love for fashion design. She established Fashion Lab Africa in 2010 in order to start positive conversations about how African fashion designers and other practitioners can contribute to and benefit more from the world’s multimillion-dollar industry. Visit: lizogumbo.com