Bakithi Kumalo & Robbi K
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Bakithi Kumalo & Robbi K


Band World Children's Music


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"A special program... the show celebrated the diversity of our nation through music."
– WABC-TV Eyewitness News

"Pick of the week."
– NY1-TV

"KEEP THE BEAT! A 2003 Award Winner!"
– Parents' Choice Foundation

"For over a decade, Robbi has continued to bring joy and great music to the Museum. Robbi K's performances are fun for the kids but intelligent enough for even the most skeptical adults."
– Roz Smith,
Brooklyn Children's Museum

"Robbi K's live concerts are joyous, exhilarating world music sing-alongs"
– Berks Jazz Festival

"First Saturday is a family oriented event and the entire audience, old and young, was enthralled by the energy and vivacity of Robbi's Band. The children laughed in delight at watching us as we, the older participants, tried to imitate what they accomplished with ease."
– Nilaga Stengle,
Brooklyn Museum of Art

"I like the songs you sang. I like your voice. I like your beat. Thanks for all of that!"
– Adrian T., Age 9
- Varied Sources/Robbi K

Varied Sources/Bakithi Kumalo

Kumalo's roots are in a musical family of Soweto, and he was destined to be a musician long before
Paul Simon's expedition to South Africa. After Graceland brought him to New York, Kumalo became
one of the more in-demand session players for the growing number of American artists looking for an
"African" sound. ...he wisely has tried to create a genuinely original sound for himself, one that fuses his
South African roots with pan-African rhythms, R&B licks, Caribbean melodies, and jazz grooves. ...but it is his bass playing that informs the sound of the music... He stretches the instrument to the limit... Latin and jazz fans will find as much to listen to as "world music" fans.
—Louis Gibson,

Kumalo's style draws on a broader range of influences from Latin to ambient. This diversity is perhaps
unsurprising for a man whose session career has encompassed both Harry Belafonte and Laurie
Anderson and Kumalo's musicality has a universal appeal. With an autobiographical theme to most of
the pieces, this is an excellent showcase for Kumalo's talents. Anyone wishing to keep tabs on his other collaborative projects may care to check out the work he did with onetime Grateful Dead sticksman
and ethnic percussion reasearcher/player par excellence Mickey Hart on the late Tupac Shakur's movie
Gang Related.
—Roger Thomas,

Growing up during the Apartheid years, Bakithi Kumalo saw nothing in his future but music. As a child,
he learned mbaqanga (a rhythm characteristic of Soweto), mbube (a cappella vocal music) and jive
(electric, urban pop) on bass, drums and acoustic guitar. "Sometimes at schools, the children ask me
how I got to America," he said. In "Set It Free – A Musical Journey From Apartheid To Freedom" Mr.
Kumalo will use song, music and his personal story to tell of his coming to of age in South Africa.
—Barbara Delatiner, The New York Times

Kumalo came up through the township music scene. By the time Simon found him in Johannesburg, in 1984, Kumalo had paid his dues playing township soul, Zulu traditional pop, mbaqanga and other local styles. His work with the likes of Gloria Estefan, Randy Brecker, Laurie Anderson, and Cyndi Lauper...have
given him a taste of mainstream success...a real shot at the sort of crossover audience so many African
artists crave.
—Banning Eyre, The Boston Phoenix

Bakithi Kumalo's fretless carries "Home" and "Hand on My Shoulder," the latter featuring background
vocals by no less than Brian Wilson. Revealing his South African roots, Fig enlists the vocal and playing
skills of Richard Bona and ex-Zawinul guitarist Amit Chaterjee for the soaring "3:4 Folk," while Bakithi
returns for the horn-laden Capetown traditional "Jan/Feb/March."
—Chris Jisi, Bass Player Magazine (review, Anton Fig – Figments)

Also backstage was Bakithi Kumalo, my bass player in Bembe Orisha. He played with Planet Drum and is
a monster player from South Africa.
—Mickey Hart,

...The album's focal points include infectious vocal melodies (handled by Kumalo, his wife, Robbi and
others), kaliedoscopic rhythms, and killer, percussion-driven grooves. It's all held together by Kumalo's
articulate bass playing, which anchors the sometimes complex compositions and frequently pops with authority.
—Jim Ferguson, Jazz Times Magazine

Loved it, you carry it all so well... So often times the bass is buried beneath the drums and what not. You bring it up where it needs to be. And when papa plays the ladies sway. Take it, Take it, Take it
—Customer review,

...with the soothing and peaceful music performed by the Bakithi Kumalo Band jetting through the air, I found myself in musical bliss. Mothers were dancing with their babies, jubilant line-dancing and
shimmying could be seen by the end of the night. The wailing of the saxophone inspired a unison of
clapping and arms swaying through the air to "keep the beat". Whichever way you relaxed, it was a
North Fork event that all enjoyed.
—R.B Stuart, Dan's Papers

The afternoon will feature a live musical performance with Bakithi Kumalo and the South African All-
Stars. Bakithi is a legendary Bass player who was featured on Paul Simon's Graceland album, among
other projects. He will be accompanied by some fantastic, equally well-known South African musicians. We're there.

I think he is one of the more interesting world music artists right now...he is really doing a lot of work...he picked up on the rhythms of New York and his music has a sense of play – it's got sounds from South Africa and the world.
—Suzanne Kincheloe, Qradio

As a finale to three days of Global Peace Concerts, the Bakithi Kumalo Band performed at the University
Cafe. Deep bass tones flooded the evening, as people poured into the venue. The sound of j - Varied Sources/Bakithi Kumalo


Visit for complete discography

Visit for complete discography



Music for a Shrinking World

Bakithi Kumalo and Robbi K's concerts are joyous and exhilarating, with a focus on amusing and edifying the entire family, from parents to grandparents, toddlers to teens. Everybody participates with voices, hands, feet and hearts.

A native of Soweto Township outside Johannesburg, South Africa, Bakithi Kumalo's musical career has been characterized by a series of serendipitous events, ranging from his debut gig as a precocious seven-year-old filling in for the bassist in his uncle's band to his enlistment into Paul Simon's group during the recording sessions of the pop star's landmark 'Graceland' album in 1985.Kumalo creates a bass sound that sounds like human voices and the African grooves of his homeland and has garnered him a stellar reputation as a musician. In addition to touring with Paul Simon, he's also recorded and/or toured with the likes of Gloria Estefan, Chaka Khan, Harry Belafonte, Eileen Ivers, Grover Washington Jr., Gerald Albright, Miriam Makeba, Josh Groban and Chris Botti.

Robbi K's powerful lyric soprano has graced TV commercials for the likes of Coca Cola, Lincoln Mercury, and GE, while also establishing an active career as a back-up singer for such superstars as Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Jewel, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart, Daniel Rodriquez, Mary J. Blige, and Harry Belafonte. Robbi is married to Grammy-winning bassist Bakithi Kumalo, and this duo moves easily among the jazz, pop, blues and world music genres. For years, she has been a major force in bringing a sense of the world community to children's musical theater. Robbi sings and speaks English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian. In addition she has developed a host of characters that incorporate a variety of accents, dialects and Zulu idioms in into the show.

Together, Robbi and Bakithi have created a new kind of artistic presentation, which successfully combines music, theater, and culture with a worldview that makes a dramatic break from the Eurocentric norm.

Bakithi's latest CD, Transmigration, was released in early 2007. Robbi K has released three children's CDs: Set It Free and Keep the Beat (honored with a Parents' Choice Award), and most recently, Music Makes Me Happy.