From Korogocho Slums to Entertaining Jill Biden & Obama, Meet Ghetto Classics
A Kenyan-based orchestra is etching its name in the history books after it was accorded a chance to entertain US First Lady, Jill Biden during her three-day visit to Kenya.
Ghetto Classics has grown to be one of the most renowned groups in the country from entertaining former president Uhuru Kenyatta, former US President Barrack Obama, Pope Francis and notable visiting musicians like saxophonists Branford Masalis and Kirk Whalum.
Unknown to many, behind the fame and accolades, Ghetto Classics’ history is deeply-rooted in Nairobi’s Korogocho slums.
US First Lady Jill Biden (centre), US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman (right) and EAC Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano arrive at Kajiado County on February 26, 2023.
With a dream of making it out of the slums, the members of the group confronted the hardships characterised by a unruly lifestyle and high cost of living.
Judging by their background, many thought that the members would barely make it in life.
A book titled Ghetto Classics: How a Youth Orchestra Changed a Nairobi Slum by Journalist Ginanne Brownell narrated the rags-to-riches tale of the group.
The group emerged after Elizabeth Njoroge, a pharmacist who returned to Kenya after working in Canada and Britain paired up with a priest from St. John’s parish sought to build on the local choir.
According to The People, Njoroge managed to secure instruments from her local networks and well-wishers to establish the group.
In addition, she began explaining musical theories to the team and held a couple of concerts for visibility and wide reach.
“Over time, they just got more clout within the music community because they had lots of people involved in the Kenyan music world like conductors and others who were helping with the music education,” Brownell stated.
US First Lady Jill Biden (in a blue flowery dress) interacts with Kenyans during her visit to the country on February 26, 2023.