Kenyans celebrate Kenny Rogers

Kenyans have joined the global music community in celebrating the life and legacy of Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers

The American Country Music legend Kenny Rogers passed on early Saturday at the age of 81.

A message posted on his official Twitter account confirmed that Kenny Rogers “passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family”.

In Kenya, #SundownerKBC fans on Twitter have been paying tribute to Kenny Rogers and requesting his music throughout the day ahead of the show which goes on air on the English Service today 5:00pm-7:00pm.

Sundowner Show on KBC English Service is credited for popularizing Kenny Roger’s and other country musicians in Kenya since the 1960s.

The show runs Monday to Saturday from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Sunday’s from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm with John Obongo Junior and Catherine Ndonye as the hosts.

Earlier, KBC Online spoke to Catherine Ndonye and she noted that “just like Don Williams’ The gentle Giant’, Kenny lived his gift. With seemingly very little effort, he just spoke, told his stories through gentle soothing songs and the world listened.”

“Kenny has lived his whole gift. Never holding back. I don’t know a single song he did, that wasn’t a great song. He was a musical magician who told it all with ease. Softly speaking great love it penetrated all hearts,” She added.  “He did not need to make 100 tours to Africa for us to feel his music. Yet we sang the lyrics word for word.’Good wine needs no bush’. He gave us a good sip”.

Last year in August, KBC English Service celebrated Kenny’s birthday.

“Kenny Rogers was bigger than any one genre. Apart from the popular country duets, he also recorded with R & B and pop artists like his friend Lionel Richie, Bee Gees, James Ingram and even Gladys Knight. He was an icon in the true sense of the term,” says Bill Odidi, Head of KBC English Service. “He transcended generations of music fans like few other musicians have been able to.”

Kenny Rogers started his music career in the 1950s. He came to fame as a member of the ‘First Edition’ Band that was formed in 1967, along with Mike Settle, Terry Williams and Thelma Camacho. After the disbandment of the group, he went solo in 1976.

Among the many Kenny Rogers songs that Kenyans can sing-along to are ‘Gambler’, ‘Island in the stream’ (with Dolly Parton), ‘Coward of the County’ and ‘Lady’ written by Lionel Richie.

Others are Scarlet fever’, ‘Buy me a rose’, ‘Morning Desire’, ‘Write your name across my heart’, ‘Eyes That See in the Dark’, and most recently ‘When You Love Someone’. His popular repertoire also includes ‘Look at You’, and ‘You Can’t Make Old Friends’ another Dolly Parton collaboration – singles from the ‘You Can’t Make Old Friends’ album released in 2014.

The same year he released the gospel album ‘The Love of God’ with four renditions of Amazing grace’, ‘Grace’, What a friend we have in Jesus and ‘Circles of friends’ with the group Point of Grace.

Viewers of KBC (then known as the Voice of Kenya) will also remember watching the film ‘A Christmas to Remember’ starring Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton during every end of the year holiday for most of the 1980s.

In addition to his music, Rogers also had a successful acting career starring in more than 20 films some of them being Saga of Sonora (1973), The Gambler (1980), Coward of the County (1981) and How I Met Your Mother (2009).

Kenny Rogers won several honors including 2 Grammy Awards, Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, Music City News Country, ASAP, BBC’s Greatest Country Singer and CMT Music Awards.

Born on 21st August, 1938 in Houston, Texas, Rogers was an inductee of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame (2017) and Country Music Hall of Fame (2013).

His mum was Lucille Lois, a nurse after whom he named the song ‘Lucille’, and Edward Floyd Rogers, his father, a carpenter. Kenny married five times and had five children.


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