I was born in Kenya and grew up at the foot of the Ngong Hills, which rise a thousand feet above the floor of the Great Rift Valley. As a boy I often walked up to their peaks, never tiring of drinking in the vast primordial vista towards the west. From a young age this incredibly rich and beautiful land engendered in me a profound sense of life's interconnectedness.
At nine years old I asked for my first guitar. I was taught by a series of colorful expatriates, each imparting a little more knowledge, each feeding my imagination. I displayed some talent and within a few short years entered, and won, the East African Music Festival. As a teenager I evolved an eclectic taste in music and was enriched by incredible influences from Hendrix to Jobim, from Dowland to Sibelius, not to mention the talents of a host of local African musicians.
One such musician who made a deep impression on me was a blind marimba player. I spent an evening with him in a little shack of a restaurant overlooking the Indian Ocean and as he played, his lovingly hand-crafted instrument became an extension of his body. Music poured from him, emerging from the center of his being. His intricate sound and rhythms left me awestruck and hungering for more.
After high school and a year's stint teaching at the Kenya Conservatoire of Music, I went on to study classical guitar at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Living in London was an absolute musical and cultural eye opener and amongst the many concerts I attended, hearing one of my guitar heroes of the time, Julian Bream, was perhaps the most memorable. His sheer musicianship and tonal palette blew me away and I realized that here was truly something to strive for.
It's such an honor and pleasure to be able to play the guitar. I'm constantly amazed at the scope of beauty and emotion the six strings of this instrument are capable of. In my desire to write music I try to keep myself connected with everything and everyone around me.
And that wonderful blind marimba player is so often up front, urging me on.