Mama Maia-The fruit salad that produces music

  Maia von Lekow;Kenyan Afro-fusion/jazz     Kenyan Afro-fusion/jazz, Maia von Lekow. PHOTOS: COURTESY

Style and diversity were on show during a special event held at The Elephant (former Kifaru) situated in Nairobi’s upmarket Lavington estate last Saturday.

The event, organised to celebrate girls and women as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, was one of a kind.

The colourful stage was abuzz with music that ranged from unique African traditional beats to Swahili treats and a bit of Western culture tunes drawn from the rich heritage of the Kenyan people that filled the air, setting the mood for the much-anticipated show.

Several female artistes had the opportunity to showcase their talent. Popular singers Fena and Kui did what they do best - thrill fans with their scintillating vocals that saw temperatures rise high.

All this was in readiness for the artiste of the moment: Maia von Lekow.

The moment Maia took to the stage, it was to screams and cheers from the already fired-up audience and it was evident that everyone had been waiting for this moment.

Dressed in well-fitting and colourful African-style attire, she did not let the audience down.

Clutching her microphone, she would burst into a soprano as she cooed one of her jazz numbers and invited the audience to join her in the song as she moved back and forth.

She cleverly wove her lyrics into fresh Afro-fusion combined with jazz, funk, folk and blues, all sprinkled with the Swahili spice that is part of her persona.


Referred to as a ‘fruit salad’ by a section of her fans due to her versatility in music, Maia heads an all-male band.

“I have been with them for a while, each of them came at different times. Mine is a gradual movement,” she noted.

The daughter of one of Kenya’s music legends, Sal Davis, her music has been greatly shaped by her Kenyan roots with influences from her stints in Europe and Australia. On stage, Maia plays the acoustic guitar.

The singer-songwriter’s music has featured in East African films such as Imani (Uganda, 2010), and From A Whisper (Kenya, 2008), both of which earned her an African Academy Award for Best Soundtrack.

Before the concert, she had just returned home from Morocco after an action-packed tour of the North-African country.

The soulful songstress was selected to perform at the Visa for Music Showcase, an annual festival bringing together world leaders of the music industry to showcase music from Africa and the Middle-East.

Performing at the beautiful Cinema Renaissance in Rabat, Maia and her band presented the best of Kenyan contemporary sounds to an enthusiastic crowd.

In celebration of the generous support received from Qatar Airways and Bank of Africa, The Kenyan Honorary Consul to Morocco also staged an exclusive concert for Maia and her band at the Royal ANFA Golf Club in Casablanca.

Attended by the Moroccan business elite, the concert was a huge success in promoting Kenya as both a tourism and business destination.

There is no denying that Maia is making waves throughout Africa, gracing the stages of prominent festivals across Africa among them HIFA (Zimbabwe), Kigali UP (Rwanda), Sauti za Busara (Zanzibar), The Great Rift Valley Festival and Blankets & Wine (Kenya).

She has performed alongside Habib Koite, James Blunt, Thandiswe Madzwai and Mafikizolo to name a few.


Maia’s songs revolve around the plight of women and domestic violence across the world, as well as personal introspections of the solitude and isolation felt in not belonging to any single culture or community.

Her previous recordings include 2008’s self-titled EP featuring Oyster, which appeared on Warner Poland’s Ladies’ Jazz Album Vol 6, and Uko Wapi, which earned her two African Academy Awards for best soundtrack in Kenya’s ‘From a Whisper’ and Uganda’s 'Imani'.

Born and raised in Nairobi, Maia has lived and performed in Berlin, Melbourne and Dublin. Since returning to Kenya in 2007, Maia has established her current live act, a high-energy six-piece band that has been making waves throughout East Africa.