David Muriithi: Getting to Create and Being Paid to Create, That to me is the Biggest Privilege

David Muriithi is a Kenyan disc jockey popularly known as DJ D-Lite. He is a talent and event manager, music promoter and the Managing Director of Creative Enterprise Centre, a regional capacity building centre whose main focus is formulating an implementing various capacity building strategies that enhance professionalism within the creative industry in the region.

The 49-year-old DJ has played at some of the most elite events in the country and is currently the Official DJ for Safaricom Jazz Festival.

His upbeat, easy going personality is something to admire and we were truly honoured to have a one on one with him.

Where did your love for music start?

My love for music started at a very early age. I was three or four years old when I first watched Jackson Five performing on TV and I fell in love with dance and music.

My main music influence however comes from my parents. Growing up, they had a gramophone and an extensive set of records so there was always music playing in our house. This is where my appreciation for music actually started.

You have been the official DJ for Safaricom Jazz since the inception. How does that feel?

Safaricom Jazz festival has three events every year:

February is the main festival, May 1st is International Jazz Day and the last one in October.

I DJ at all three festivals and it’s such a blessing and a privilege!! I do not take any it for granted.

How did you start playing for Safaricom Jazz?

I used to DJ regularly at Mercury Lounge – ABC place where I’d play all kinds of Jazz every Sunday. From this, people knew me as a Jazz DJ and because of that Sunday Safaricom chose to invite me to engage with them for Safaricom Jazz Festival.

What are some of your highlights from Safaricom Jazz Festival?

My greatest highlight has been getting a chance to share the stage with my son Ethan Murenga who performs with the Safaricom Youth Orchestra.

At 18 years old he plays five instruments: Trumpet, Guitar, Piano, Violin and Cello. I couldn’t be more proud to be his father.

Secondly, I get to mingle with not only local artists but also those from and all over the world including Grammy winning artists. These are all people I wouldn’t normally interact with on a normal day.

Left: Marcus Miller (Jazz composer)

What impact has Safaricom Jazz Festival had on local acts? 

Safaricom Jazz has given local acts the platform and a chance to make careers out of instrumentation and we are now seeing more bands than ever before.

Who are some of your favourite Jazz artists? 

David Sanborn introduced me to Jazz.

Locally, I am very fond of Shamsi music, Kato Change and Nairobi horns.

What would say about the Evolution of Jazz music in Kenya?

To me, Jazz is like golf… It’s not for everyone. However, the gap is slowly closing and communities are changing their perspective of Jazz music.

Today we also have fantastic programs like the Ghetto Classics, Art of Music foundation. This programme has trained over 300 children in Korogocho slum in classical music.

This programme has been very successful because it has provided scholarships, income generating opportunities for the youth and created classical heroes.

Kenyans also love to ‘Dunda’ (slang word for dance) and have a good time and today they are ‘Dundaing’ to Jazz music.

Images Courtesy of David Muriithi