Ugandan strings: Kinobe plays the Clark


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Ugandan musician Kinobe will come to the Clark Art Institute for a relaxed evening of broadened horizons, when he and his band, The African Sensations, play a free outdoor concert Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Kinobe plays a blend of traditional Ugandan music joined with a more global influence, what he calls "a fusion of a lot of different music styles from across the world."

His unique sound comes from his broad background. Kinobe has been traveling and performing across the continents since childhood, picking up the musical styles of the countries he’s visited along the way. Though African and European styles shape much of his music, he said he straddles the traditions, that "one leg is in Uganda, and one leg is in other parts of the world."

He brings strong rhythms out of instruments from across the globe.

Audiences will hear the kora, a one-string harp from Mali; the endongo, a type of lyre from Uganda; the abdungu, a guitar-like instrument also from Uganda; and the tama, a drum from Benin. The band will also play the xylophone and western percussion pieces.

Kinobe sings in French, English, Ugandan, Swahili and a host of other tongues, and most of all, songs that speak to the heart instead of the pop charts.

Though his music is a pleasure to hear, it serves a greater purpose, Kinobe said. American media does not often portray the positive aspects of Ugandan culture, he said: Television news broadcasts images of violence and only rarely paints a picture of peace. He hopes that his music helps "to bring the positiveness and the love and joy" of where he comes from to his American audiences and imparts the beauty of Ugandan culture.

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"Music is a universal language, a global language," and one filled with love, he said, crossing barriers of language and custom better than the news media usually can.

Just as Kinobe’s music will give a taste of something new for his audience, it’s also new for the Clark. Caedy Loomis, who organized the Clark’s summer concert series, said that they usually bring in local groups.

"Every year I like to get a wide variety of artists who will appeal to a wide range of people and bring some variety to the Clark," she said.

The Clark has never has a group that plays African music before, and Loomis hopes visitors will appreciate the chance to hear Kinobe.

She’s hoping they’ll learn something, she said.

Kinobe appreciates the chance to teach audiences not only about Ugandan culture but about the music itself.

"When they listen to us play, they realize it is a very unique sound -- the music is very sensational," he said.

"People are very interested in hearing the individual sounds" of the pieces and the tones of the African instruments he and his band play, he said, and he and the band can teach as well as entertain the audience, and "take them on a journey around Africa and the world."


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