May 12, 2011 – “Is there always this much Traffic?” Grammy nominated neo-soul musician Anthony David’s visit to Kenya came smack in the middle of the fuel crisis, and the trip from the JKIA to Sankara Hotel took longer than necessary.
Several hours later he sent the tweet: “Um… I love Kenya.” Who doesn’t? The fun-loving and warm attitudes of adoring fans and people who didn’t even know him, won him over in much less time than the traffic had aggravated him.
My first meeting with Anthony was interesting to say the least. The argument was, is neo-soul just for the lovers?
“No!” He said emphatically, “it’s about life; everything in life. Love is just a part of it.”
But the question worked its way in his mind for a few minutes and in between telling me about his admiration for Kenyan icon Wangari Maathai and how he has been reading up on Malaria, Anthony grilled me about different kinds of music and what I thought they represent. I didn’t win the argument, but at least he opened up to me a little.
“I’m a reader. I read on information because I like to question things. For instance, if to prevent malaria people decided to kill all the mosquitoes in the world, how would that affect the balance of nature.”
Apart from reading and singing, something else Anthony does really well is write.
“I write all the time. About anything and everything. I write and write and write. It’s not about releasing tension or discovery; it’s just something I do. I write,” says the artist, who has penned several numbers for India Arie as well.
We visited site after site, stopping at various media houses and sponsors’ offices but he never tired and took the chance to promote his latest album: ‘As Above, So Below’, unknowingly serenading the ladies in the process.
The next day – on a game drive through the Nairobi National Park, even the animals came out to see him. Ok, that’s a joke. But he did manage to see a group of lions lazing about under the sun, a huge crocodile basking not far away from some turtles, Zebra watching out for some carnivores across the hilly area, and rhinos grazing, among several other creatures of the wild.
Travelling with his manager Tia, his lead guitarist Brandon Thomas (also lead for Angie Stone), and the keyboardist Chantal, Anthony didn’t kiss the ground but he was beaming after the game drive. He asked about Lionel Richie’s song as we drove out: “What does Jambo nipe centi moja mean?”
The same way he embraced the essence of life around him, he outdid himself during the main event under a swanky tent at the Ivory Site of the Nairobi National Park. More than 600 attended. Singing well known hits alongside his favourite tracks from his 4th and latest album, Anthony aka Karanja had the girls and some of the guys wrapped around his husky voice.
He spent his last night in Nairobi at Sohos. Fajitas, shisha, and champagne. “I like that song, what is that?” he asked, “I really like that.”
I answered: “Kigeugeu, by a Kenyan artist called Jaguar.”