Suzanna Owiyo is an award winning Kenyan musician whose music has transcended beyond the borders of Kenya. When she is not composing songs and singing, she loves helping the community and in 2011 was awarded the prestigious Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya by former president Mwai Kibaki in recognition for her global achievements and efforts through music. Her music is a mixture of contemporary and Western Kenya beats. Despite mainly singing in her native tongue Dholuo her music has been heard globally, something she attributes to self confidence and knowing her worth.
Owiyo has travelled both within and outside Africa to perform in some of the biggest stages in the world. She has used her talent to spread messages of love and on the war against corruption. She composed a theme song for the Kenya Tourism Board which she sang at a New Year’s concert in Maputo, Mozambique.
She worked alongside Plan International in a global campaign known as Because I am a Girl. The campaign supports millions of girls through education to help them move from poverty to a better place in their lives.
The musician was born in Kasaye village, Nyakach near Kisumu. Her grandfather was a prolific Nyatiti player who introduced her to the world of music from a young age.
Throughout her high school, she was part of the music club and participated in a lot of inter-school competitions, winning some trophies along the way.
In 1998, after she had completed high school, she joined Sally Oyugi as her backup vocalist. Sally Oyugi was a Nairobi based singer who was quite famous at the time.
In 2000, she left Sally and became part of a band called Bora Bora before going back to sing in Kisumu. While in Kisumu, a businessman who loved her music bought her a guitar. She then traveled back to Nairobi where she used to sing at a club and also took music classes at the Nairobi Conservatoire of Music.
Her big break came when preparations were being made for the centennial celebrations in Kisumu. She was asked to compose the theme song for the opening ceremony.
Thereafter, she worked on an album with Kenya’s legendary music producer Ted Josiah. She released a single called Sandore whose main theme was child labor. The single was well received and its message praised by many.
In June 2003, she represented Kenya at the Kenyan Festival in Paris organized by Alliance Françoise. She represented East Africa at the Pan African Music Festival in August the same year.
In July 2004, she performed at the Festival Mundial in Netherlands and in December the same year beat a number of African artists to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize concert. Together with other artists, she also performed the song Imagine.
In 2005, she performed at the annual Corporate Council on Africa Summit in Maryland. In December, she performed at the Jamhuri day fete in Washington DC.
In 2006, she visited the United States’ University of Florida to help start an Arts in Medicine program at Mater Hospital in Nairobi.
In 2007, she performed at the Festival Mundial alongside Mercy Myra, Achieng Abura and Princess Jully.
In 2008, she performed at Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday concert in London.
On 18th May 2011, she released her third album names Roots.
Her albums include:
- Ngata Gi Mare
Awards and Nominations
2002: Nominated for the Kora Awards in the Most Promising Female Artist Category.
2003: Kisima Awards Nomination for The Most Promising Female Artist of 2003.
2007: Nominated for the Best Kenyan Female Artist Category at the Pearl of Africa Music Awards
2011: Order of Grand Warrior by the president of the republic of Kenya.
The talented vocalist has been married to Mr. Ounga Oguda for more than fifteen years as a second wife and is a mother as well. She lost her father Mzee Thaddeus Owiyo in January 2021.