They say you are only as good as your last performance. When he got the rare opportunity to perform in Kenya back in 2015, Kabo Leburu must have made it count.
Following his performance in Nairobi at the invitation of the Botswana High Commissioner to Kenya, John Moreti, Leburu keeps flying back to East Africa by popular demand.
His first recall was in September earlier this year when he was invited by a club owner in that city. Their first meeting, in 2015, had been by chance. “I had just wrapped up a performance at the High Commissioner’s residence one night when I decided to go out and explore the city (Nairobi),” Leburu tells Lifestyle.
“I arrived at a club to find a live band playing and asked for an opportunity to jam with them.”
Armed with just the harmonica, the self-taught guitarist and musician needed just two of his songs to leave a lasting impression on the club owner.
The performance landed him an invitation to play at Cool Waters Jazz & Roots Festival. It was during his September visit that the High Commissioner would organise for Leburu and his three-band members to perform at the Windsor Golf Hotel & Country Club.
The management was so impressed they booked the quartet for the entire month of December. Leburu and his band members Ado Baemisi (bassist), Tonic Moatlhodi (drums) and Mike Ndlovu (keyboards) take off for Nairobi on November 27 and return in January 2017.
The guitarist-cum harmonica player, Leburu is a self-taught musician who graduated from The University of Botswana with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He won Best Live Artist Award in the Presidents’ National Music Competitions in 2014 and was nominated for the Best Afro Jazz award in the Botswana Music Awards in 2009.
With his ability to play the guitar and harmonica while also providing vocals, Kabo brings a unique style of playing music. He has modified his acoustic guitar to double as a drum/percussion adding an interesting element to the aesthetics of his stage performances. He fuses indigenous rhythms with a touch of jazz and classically inspired finger-picking to come up with a unique ground breaking sound.
He first travelled to Kenya, Nairobi, in October 2015 alongside renowned poet Berry Heart at the invitation of The Botswana High Commissioner to perform as part of Botswana’s 49th Independence Day Celebrations. It was during his stay in Nairobi that he went out to watch a band performing at a popular venue called Choices. It was there that he impressed and got the invitation to perform again, which he did earlier this year. Leburu also played at the famous MTN Bushfire Festival in Swaziland where he joined Swaziland’s top musician Bholoja on stage. He also led a band of Botswana musicians on a successful tour of Germany in 2013 to release a collaborative album with European musicians titled Tales from Botswana.
The charisma and strong musical drive that Leburu has displayed over the years has led to a number of local and visiting international acts requesting to collaborate with him on stage and in recording studio. These bands include, amongst others, Kareyce Fotso (Cameroon) Celtic Fusion (Germany/Ireland), Red Five Point Star (Slovenia) and Tango Extremo (Netherlands).
Local artists that Leburu has worked and collaborated with include Heart (Botswana), the Kora Award-winning Machesa Traditional Group (Botswana), Shanti Lo (Botswana).
Leburu released his debut album, Footsteps in October 2008. The album which has been receiving increasing airplay in both national and private radio and television stations has added well-crafted numbers to the growing repertoire of original songs in Botswana. He also released a single titled Xhaio featuring Heart in 2013.