How do you write about certain artists?Their music?That is the question that was constantly in my mind when my sister suggested I cover Tetu for this week.Tetu Shani is not your average Joe.He is like a gentle giant.Very warm,sweet and funny.Ladies,calm down before you start stalking him,he is married.Tall dark and handsome with a talent to boot,he is definitely one to watch.I met him at the Storymoja festival and all I remember during his set is how much fun we as the audience had.My sister who was a volunteer at the same event said his sessions were fun and the kids really liked him.
Anyway,Tetu asked us to sing along to all his songs.I am all about audience participation!There was one called Saramela (I think that was the title )about a girl who broke her lover’s heart by coming to Nairobi and forgetting about her village love.(Isn’t that always the case though).Then we sang a song about Nairobi.It was really intimate.I felt like his music was hugging me close and keeping me warm.Tetu has an air of class coupled with humility despite the fact that he has lived outside of Kenya from 1993 to 2010.His music has a very authentic sound with influences from United States,Canada,Zambia Mauritania and Senegal.He is a self taught percussionist with a particular bias towards the djembe.
Today I shall be looking at the song,Round and Round the first single from his debut album Mood Music.Interesting album title yes?Well he says he called it that because he believes that every moment in our lives elicits an emotion that can be captured in music hence he created an album that can act as the soundtrack to every mood in your life,just like in a movie.
The single was released in June this year.Now if you do enough research you will see the same thing being written about this song,it was written at a time when Tetu felt stuck in a rut,things just kept on going round and round with no end in sight.This song is for every living human being because you will get stuck in a rut more times than you can count,but you will break free,eventually.That’s what you will read about the single.This is how I feel about it.
I can hear the guitar,the drum and the ganza(that egg shaped shaker you see people playingin bands).The first bit is just the guitar introducing you into its world.There is literally a break of 3 seconds before the song now begins.The guitar and drum take your hand and lead you through the steps and as you get the hang of it in comes the voices.The voices are upbeat and you sing along and before you know it you are ushered back into the hands of the guitar.You sit and listen to what the guitar has to say.A story of pain,struggle a need for understandding,a call for a listening ear and a soul reaching out for answers.Then in the midst of all that just as you feel your eyes well up with tears,the vocals come in just in time to break the spell that you were in,and round and round you go back to the beginning of the song.This song made me cry.
You know when I closed my eyes having read the background of this song what I saw was a tornado.You know how you are told that in the eye of the storm is where things are most calm as there is chaos all around?I think that song speaks to me in that way.At the core of you always remember that no matter how crazy things are around you,deep down you have the power to be calm and be still and wait for things to calm down.Going round and round helps you see things 360 degrees so that next time you will know what not to do.
Ladies and gentlemen this is a simple song with so much hidden in it,just listen.I will not bore you to death with the fact that Tetu was accepted to Berklee College of Music but I will tell you this he turned it down to stay home saying(not verbatim)’the sun is rising in Africa while it’s setting in other parts of the world’.Tafakari hayo.
Now is a good time to Live and Die in Afrika and I am glad Tetu trusted his gut enough to stay behind and gift us with his amazing talent.
We at The Bar are watching you,Tetu and thank you so much for sharing your soul with us.
Here is the song.