Grammy Award winner Marcus Miller will be headlining the Safaricom International Jazz Festival on Sunday February 17th 2019.

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t the top of his game for over 30 years, Marcus Miller is the winner of the 2013 Edison Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz (Holland), the 2010 Victoire du Jazz (France) and was appointed a UNESCO Artist For Peace in 2013.

His characteristic bass sound can be heard on a limitless catalog of musical hits from Bill Wither’s Just the Two of Us, to Luther Vandross’ Never Too Much, to songs from Chaka Khan, David Sanborn, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Elton John and Bryan Ferry.

So when he headlines the Safaricom Jazz Festival at Kasarani, Nairobi, which kicks off on Sunday January 17th at 6 pm, the two-time Grammy Award winner will be stirring a mix of ambitions and helping hundreds of young Kenyans from the ghetto connect the dots in their lives.

Safaricom has been using the Jazz Festival, which features Ghetto Classics, to change the lives of disadvantaged youth.

It is taking it to a new level following plans to extend support for the Ghetto Classics music programme to Kisumu. Support for the Kisumu edition of the initiative will come from proceeds of the 6th edition of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival that is taking place at the Kasarani Training Grounds from Sunday.

Ghetto Classics, which has been the Safaricom Jazz beneficiary since 2014, has so far received an estimated Ksh60 million, which have benefited more than 1,400 children from Nairobi and Mombasa.

The Ghetto Classics has had a huge impact on underprivileged children in the slums, who would have otherwise lost hope in life and resorted to c***e and d**g a***e.

The Jazz Festival also features supporting performances from Kenyan guitarist Kato Change, Ghetto Classics (Kenya), The Safaricom Youth Orchestra (Kenya), Jazzrausch Bigband (Germany), Toine Thys Trio feat Herve Samb (Belgium), Yazmin Lacey (United Kingdom), Viviane (Portugal) and the Omri Mor Trio (Israel).

The programme has already had phenomenal impact among underprivileged children in the slums, who would have otherwise lost hope in life and resorted to c***e and d**g a***e.

Through Ghetto Classics, they have received music and life skills that have opened doors for them. The Ghetto Classics orchestra has performed at high-profile functions such as during the visit by Pope Francis when they entertained him at the Kasarani Stadium. They have also performed before President Uhuru Kenyatta

The programme was started in 2008 by renowned classical musician Elizabeth Njoroge’s Art of Music Foundation in Korogocho slums but has since expanded to Huruma, Dandora, and Mukuru wa Reuben, among other slums. It expanded to Mombasa in January 2017.

Art music is taught to the children to help them “realise their dreams and transform societies”. Through the programme, the youth have also had opportunity to travel the world. Last year, 20 members of the Ghetto Classics Orchesta travelled to Poland to perform at the Brave Festival conducted by JIMEK.

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Ms Njoroge is also the founder of the Kenya National Youth Orchestra, which performed at a 2015 dinner hosted in honour of US President Barack Obama and in 2018 when he visited his ancestral home of Kogelo.

She is also involved in the Safaricom Youth Orchestra, which brings together not just members of Ghetto Classics but also Ghetto Classics Orchestra, children from middle-class and wealthy local and expatriate families. The highlight of their performances is usually at the Safaricom International Jazz Festival, which is held every February.  The Safaricom Youth Orchestra was founded by the company’s CEO Bob Collymore.

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