Everyone's favorite junior senator, Barack Obama, has voiced his support for Extra Golden's Kenyan and American benga styles and helped them bring the band's Kenyan members into the U.S. for a tour this month.
As the senator said in a letter to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Center, "As a group, Extra Golden already has an album entitled 'Ok-Oyot System,' on Chicago-based Thrill Jockey Records. Their unprecedented combination of Kenyan 'benga' (a popular East African dance music) with American, blues-based music has received critical raves..."
Benga is an indigenous, popular musical style originating in Western Kenya that incorporates Western instruments such as electric guitar, bass and drums but in a musical form that is locally specific. Co-founding member Ian Eagleson spent a year in Kenya to research benga music for his doctoral thesis in ethnomusicology. Extra Golden sings in both English and Luo, one of the two dominant languages of Kenya, and creates melodies, rhythms, harmonies, and lyrics deeply rooted in the local culture. Ok-Oyot refers to a Luo expression, roughly meaning "it's not easy." While Extra Golden sings of struggles, the overall theme is triumph of good will over adversity.
The Obama family is also from Kenya, and his recent visit made major headlines as Kenyans received the politician more like a rock star.
For tour dates, please click here