Biography of Joseph Kamaru

Joseph Kamaru (born 1939) is a benga musician from central Kenya. He is a leading Kikuyu musician, who has sold about half million records Kamaru is from Marangua, Muranga District. In 1957 he went to Nairobi where he got a househelp job. He started pursuing music in 1965, when he listened on the radio the Mbeca Ithiragira Urakua song by Wangi wa Gachau and stated he could do even better music . Kamaru made breakthrough in 1967 with his hit Celina . He was at the height of his musical career between 1975-1985. In the late 80's he was the first Kenyan artist to play at the Carnivore Restaurant, then only hosting foreign artists. According to Martin Dunford, the owner of the restaurant, Kamaru's vibrant performance opened doors for other Kenyan artist to perform at the venue . Many of his songs were political, either praising or criticising the government . Iitially he had good relationships with president Jomo Kenyatta, but after writing a song condemning the murder Josiah Mwangi Kariuki in 1975 Kamaru fell out with Kenyatta. After Kenyatta died, the next Daniel arap Moi restores the confidence on the artist. In 1980 Kamaru toured Japan as a part of President Moi's entourage. After the visit he composed Safari ya Japan praising the president. But the President was not pleased with Kamaru's support for multiparty democracy in the late 80's . In 1993 he turned from secular to Gospel music and disbanded his previous group, the Kamaru Supersounds . The conversion saw plunge in his record sales, but Kamaru does not regret abandoning the success he had as a secular musician . Kamaru is the chairman of Kenya Association of Phonographic Industries (KAPI), and owns a church ministry in Nairobi . He also runs two record stores in Nairobi .

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