Tabu Osusa

  • function:
    founding director
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participation in

  • WOMEX 2017
  • WOMEX 2009
  • WOMEX 2008
  • WOMEX 2007

Tabu Osusa is an iconic figure in the East African music industry. A native of Kenya, he is the Founding Executive Director of Ketebul Music, a not-for-profit organization incorporated in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007.

For over 35 years, Tabu Osusa has been involved in the music industry as a composer, songwriter, recording artiste, band manager, promoter, and producer. He has been actively involved in shaping the careers and running some of the top recording and performing bands and artistes in East Africa, including the much acclaimed Orchestra Virunga and Nairobi City Ensemble, and in recent times Makadem, Ogoya Nengo, Gargar and Winyo to mention but a few.

In 2004, Tabu Osusa was the lead music consultant for the radio series titled “Movin’ & Groovin; in East Africa”: a music program that was commissioned by the Nation Media Group's Convergence and Special Projects department, to trace the history of East African popular music. In the same year, along with the Director of Alliance Francaise of Nairobi, Osusa co-chairs the steering committee of the "Spotlight on Kenyan Music" project, which aims to discover and promote young talents performing a blend of African music.

In the same year, he was appointed as the Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the ‘Spotlight on Kenyan Music’ program (alongside the Director of Alliance Française de Nairobi) a position he still holds to date. The program aims to discover and promote young Kenyan music talents, whose music is heavily influenced by the traditional sounds of Kenya. Tabu Osusa is also the Producer and Creative Director of the program which has to date produced 6 compilation albums featuring music from all over the country.

In 2006, Osusa was the Creative Producer and Consultant for “Muziki wa Kenya,” a series of concerts supported by the Goethe Institut aimed at showcasing Kenyan of music the yester years.

Since 2008, Tabu Osusa has been the Project Coordinator of the Retracing Series: a series of research-based documentaries that seeks to capture historical events that have helped define the East African music scene. The project, which is supported by the Ford Foundation Eastern Africa, has so far produced the following multimedia documentary packages;

i. Retracing the Benga Rhythm (2008)
ii. Retracing Kikuyu Popular Music (2010)
iii. Retracing Kenya’s Funky Hits (2011)
iv. Retracing Kenya’s Songs of Protest (2013) &
v. Shades of Benga - The Story of Popular Music in Kenya: 1946 – 2016 (2017)

He is also a member of the Equation Musique, a program initiated by the Institut Français which brings together music professionals from the southern hemisphere and supports their presence in professional music markets. Tabu is also one of the few Africans involved in the arts and culture to be recognized by the France Cultures guidebook Raiders of Cultures.

In 2009, Osusa represented East Africa in the selection panel of the proposed Centre for Black Music (Le Centre des Noires) during the selection process held in Paris.

From 2011, Tabu has been the Project Coordinator for the Singing Wells project; a partnership project between Ketebul Music and the Abubilla Music Foundation (UK). The Singing Wells project aims at recording and archiving traditional sounds and music of Eastern Africa.

In 2014 Osusa and Ketebul Music were appointed by the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts and the Smithsonian Institution to program and curate the music that would showcase Kenya at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival held in Washington DC from 25th June to 6th July 2014.

In 2016 Tabu Osusa was on of the judges at the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) held in Lagos Nigeria. He was also appointed as the Visa For Music Country Representative for Kenya and a member of the Consultative Committee. In October of the same year, he was nominated by the International Music Council as one of the five Music Rights Champions.

Tabu Osusa


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