Freddy says: “I was born in a family where almost everyone sang, danced or played a musical instrument. Both parents played guitars so I picked it up.”
Early musical experiences
When Freddy passed his O levels with distinction he was given a guitar present by late Uncle Harry. In 1973 he joined Earthquakes school band led by South African musician Tabiso Leshoai.
Freddy says: “We were lucky to have the famous Mbarakah Mwinshehe a well established Tanzanian household superstar name coming to do concerts at Mzumbe Secondary School. During breaks Mwinshehe and band would offer us their instruments. My first gig was a disaster, but that is how things kicked off.”
Co-Forming Sayari Troupe
Freddy jammed and freelanced around Dar es Salaam clubs but soon teamed with George Chioko ( Malawian musician), Nasibu Mwanukuzi (nowadays Ras Nas), Anna Lukindo (nowadays designer, Anna Luks) and well known actress, Chiku Ali (nowadays FGM woman campaigner) to form Sayari in 1981. Sayari has been called “the Osibisa of Tanzania” for innovating sound, images, words and languages.
Freddy drums away during 2012 Notting Hill Carnival. Everyone should join the Carnival once in their life! And if you are a musician the joy is cataclysmic! Pic by Urban Pulse Creative Media
Germany, Europe and Brazilian Experience
Freddy lived in Germany and regularly toured and shared the stage with many including South African jazz musician, Philip Tabane in 1986 and a series of international festivals in Holland, Switzerland and Denmark. He also teamed up with German musicians, Michael Kupper, percussionist Claude Wende, Tanzanian bass player Fadhil “Jagger” and South African singer-songwriter, Jan Wiltshire.
Freddy (first right) on keys with Os Galas Band, Rio De Janeiro, Brasil, 1988. Others are singer Alexandre Rosa Moreno, Bassist and band leader, Jairo Cliff and guitarist, Claudio Menezes. Pic by Clori Ferreira.
Freddy says: ” Studying music in Brazil expanded my skills due to the variety of people I learnt from and played with. This included the Bahia Carnival where you play the same instrument with over a hundred others for several days.”
“If you can talk you can sing; if you can walk you can dance.” African proverb
Kitoto band evolved after working with Latin American super musicians, Raul de Barros Jnr, Marcelo Lobato, Eduardo Morelenbaum, Mestre Abiodung and Beto Lopez- the Uruguay percussionist. Kitoto’s name is a tribute to late Tanzanian musician James Mpungo who promoted a fusion of traditional, jazz and modern Afro beats with Sunburst band in mid 1970s.
Kitoto Trio plays at the Royal Festival Hall, July 2012. From left , Andre Mathurin (bass), Freddy Macha (guit and Vocs), Gwang (Percussion). Pic by Kadija George
Freddy says: “The word “Kitoto” comes from the syncopated dance/drumming of south Tanzania.”
Freddy Macha is a singer, song-songwriter; he also plays Berimbau, Percussion, Piano and Guitar.
Freddy says: “I write tunes for children as well as serious themes with complex arrangements plus straightforward stuff that has upbeat tempo for dancing and easy to sing chants or chorus. One such piece is Kilimanjaro – homage to where I was born; also warns of cutting forests and global warming.”
Freddy plays at Mona Sorensen’s 7th birthday, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 1982.
Kitoto after gig at Liverpool Street Restaurant, London Spring 2008. Right is Vocalist Tina and left is percussionist Gwang, with Takamini guitar. Was fun. Music is always fun…the business side is a tricky forest though.
Andre Mathurin grooves the bass while Freddy croons on famous Swahili standard, Malaika. Royal Festival Hall, London, July 2012.