The story goes that before Herbert Kinobe was born in his native Uganda, his uncle prophesied that the child-to-be would become a great musician. By the age of five, Kinobe was playing such traditional African instruments as the kalengo, or “talking” drum; the kora, the 21-stringed harp-lute; the kalimba, or thumb piano; the adungu or bow-harp; the endongo, or African lyre, among others. By the age of ten, child prodigy Kinobe was giving virtuoso performances of Ugandan music as well as his own compositions at festivals in Europe and across the African continent, performing along the way with such who’s who of African musicians as Miriam Makeba, Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate, Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo, Oliver Mtukudzi, Baaba Maal and Ismael Lo, among others. Those early travels opened up Kinobe’s ears to music of the West and to other styles of African music beyond Uganda and it became an obsession for Kinobe to combine traditional African instruments and styles with other international styles and rhythms, particularly of the Latin and American variety. Even so, Kinobe is quick to point out that these styles have Africa as their ultimate starting point which is why he genuinely prefers the broad label “World Music” to African music.
Soul Beat Africa is one of several Kinobe projects, the mouthpiece of a “new groove for a new world” that seeks to be truly international cultural ambassadors and which will open the 2010-11 Jewel Box series at Northeastern Illinois University, a rare opportunity to experience this unique band in an intimate concert-hall setting. The lineup includes guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Ouma Michael, keyboardist and kalimba-player Lukwago Jude, Okia Allan on bass guitar, bass kalimba and back-up vocals, Sewagudde Richard on calabash, kalimba, endongo and adungu, drummer Tugume Ambrose and percussionist Bakkabulindi Samuel. (Dennis Polkow)
September 10, Northeastern Illinois University Fine Arts Recital Hall, 8pm, 3701 West Bryn Mawr, (773)442-4636. $10-$25.
Dennis Polkow is an award-winning veteran journalist, critic, author, broadcaster and educator. He made his stage debut at age five, was a child art prodigy and began playing keyboards in clubs at the age of fourteen. He holds degrees in music theory, composition, religious studies and philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago. Polkow spent his early years performing and recording in rock and jazz bands while concertizing as a classical pianist, organist and harpsichordist and composing, arranging and producing for other artists. As a scholar, Polkow has published and lectured extensively and taught at several colleges and universities in various departments. As an actor, narrator and consultant, Polkow has been involved with numerous films, plays, broadcasts and documentaries. As a journalist, Polkow helped co-create the experiential Chicago Musicale and Spotlight, the award-winning tabloid arts and entertainment section of the Press Publications chain of newspapers, which he later edited. He also created and ran the nationally recognized journalism program at Oakton College and was faculty advisor to its award-winning student newspaper; many former students went on to major media careers, including Channel Awesome’s the Nostalgia Critic. Polkow’s research, interviews, features, reviews and commentaries have appeared across national and international media and he has corresponded from the Middle East, Asia and Africa for the Chicago Tribune. Contact: email@example.com