“From musical ideas on my mobile phone… come songs that tell stories…”
When Media for Development International producer John Riber was looking for a musician to enrich the storytelling of Kumekucha, the radio drama, he found the perfect partner in John Kitime.
Music flows in Kitime’s blood. His prolific songwriting and knowledge of indigenous Tanzanian music, takes Kumekucha to another level.
Kitime has his own unique way of describing himself and his musicality:
“My name is John F. Kitime; you can call me JFK anytime. I guess I have always been a musician; my father was a multi instrumentalist and so there was always music in my childhood. I got the first thrill of being on stage when I was ten, in music competition where I sang Jamaican Farewell by Harry Belafonte, after being taught the song by my father just for the competition, and won. The prize was a packet of sweets. I have since then been in a number of Bands. Presently I am with the Kilimanjaro Band.
Now who ever came up with the idea of a recording mobile phone must have been eating a lot of fish. Where I come from we believe eating fish makes you intelligent. Whenever and wherever I get an idea of a tune, I take my handset and record the tune immediately. I have managed to come up with many ideas of songs, which I have stored in my library.
When I was called up to come up with music for Kumekucha I spent half the night listening to ideas I had stored through the years, some of them so wild I didn’t believe it was me who recorded these strange tunes. I then came up with rough ideas for the songs.
After recording the basic tracks it was then time to bring in artists whom I knew were good and see what we could do to the ideas. I had never worked with most of these musicians, except for my friend Anania Ngoliga, the Kalimba player. We have travelled the world performing our own style of music, accoustic Kalimba with the acoustic guitar, and once in a jam session in Mumbai we had the sitar and tablas in the mix. Now that was a bomb.
But back to the studio… the fun was seeing the growth of an idea from mobile phone recordings to become songs with feelings, sad songs, happy songs all getting a new life form, telling the story of Kumekucha.
Thanks God there is music.”