Using lyrical creativity to express the soul of her people, she is a voice for Maasai consciousness with feminine tone and youthful appeal. A call-and-response community song, the lyrics demonstrate how the youth value their culture, and require unity to protect their home and traditions. Alex emphasizes the intuitive storytelling with highly rhythmic and harmonic vocals that fuse genres of African music.
The word "Irmaasai Lang" simply means "our Maasai" which in other words means "our people." Pendo was born in 1999 in Kitwai Simanjiro and allows her creative process to channel her emotions into lyrics. She believes music is her destiny and wants to use it for positive influence in her community where constant change threatens Maasai livelihood.
"I want to help my community by being a role model, especially for children in tricky situations. Through my music, I can share my pride in our culture and show the younger generation what is possible when you build confidence and develop talents"
A vivid example of how VOM seems to be a concentration of something larger, Pendo was not directly scouted, she was referred to VOM. Jessey shares her encounter, "I was meeting with Mokia Naputu who introduced me to a small group of Maasai men open to discussing topics of the culture. Afterwards, a slender soft-spoken gentlemen asked for my contact info. He promptly followed-up with a meeting request and the next day we sat together over chai and launched conversation about women's rights in Maasai communities.
He proceeded with a pitch of young and talented female vocalist from his community. His articulate claim that her talents would align with interests of VOM made an impression on me. Here was this young man, willing to buy me tea and share his authentic perspective, I quietly filled with pride and celebrated the fact that VOM has earned a place in the hearts of the greater Maasai community and welcomed a meeting of what was described of this blooming and eager young woman.
I scheduled Pendo's casual meet-and-greet before engaging Alex in the introduction. I needed to have a pre-interview, catch her vibe and allow a open-space to share mindset, experience, and goals. As the discussion fell into rhythm, I messaged Alex to join. We then scheduled a studio visit, interviewed Pendo in tandem and sampled her voice to determine if she "had what it takes." Equal parts nervousness and excitement, an air of trust seemed to relax the setting. We pushed her far enough to measure potential, then concluded the session. Confidently, we were ready to schedule a day for composing, recording, and to capture the real magic that Alex so keenly delivers."
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Inspiration Behind the Album Art
Pendo is 22 years old, same as my daughter, an impressionable age where tension between interdependence and independence is still critical. I see a strong, caring, go-getter, a fear-tackler, unafraid to stand up for what she believes in, if she can continue on this uplifting path, I trust she can be an optimistic advocate for her peers, larger community and a bright star in our ever-expanding label.
~ Jessey Jansen
Art made from layers of cut paper by Jessey Jansen, Founder of VOM. Format is inspired by the nostalgic 12" vinyl record covers, paying homage to keeping the music (the story) alive. Collect limited edition album art and become part of our inner circle.
About Voice of Maasai
Voice of Maasai focuses on producing uplifting music through co-writes and collaborations in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. We connect a global audience with emerging Maasai talent to provide authentic and nuanced perspectives of the Savannah's of East Africa and to use music as a vehicle for social bonding.
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