Doris Jepchumba Tanui aka Chumba is a budding, new musician and a powerful voice for social justice and family harmony.
Growing up in Kitale, rural Rift Valley, Chumba has known the travails of poverty and underprivileged upbringing. From her parents, both prison's officers, she learnt the drill of discipline and from her father, a boxer, the skill of endurance.
She joined the Kenya Air Force in 2002 and began singing part time as a member of the Country Breeze Band, a quartet that staged freelance gigs during her free time. Her big break, however, came in December 2006 when she joined the Maroon Commandos band for the Presidential New Year’s Eve State Dinner Dance at State House, Mombasa. After an impressive performance, the band requested that she be seconded to the Kenya Army and assigned to sing with Maroon Commandos.
By the time she joined Maroon Commandos in November 2007, her music career was already blossoming; between February and October 2006, Chumba participated in, and won, a talent competition organized by Nairobi’s Ibiza Club that earned her a tidy sum of Ksh200,000.
“That competition convinced me to begin singing seriously,” says Chumba, 25, who considers Brenda Fassie, Mirriam Makeba and Oliver Mtukudzi as her musical icons.
Within months of winning the Ibiza competition, Chumba was a finalist in the third edition of the Spotlight on Kenya Music organized by Alliance Francaise that November, with her hugely popular hit, Kipla, making it to the CD compilation.
At Maroon Commandos, Chumba has become the band’s dependable female vocalist. She has also composed many of the band’s recent releases — including the title track of the band’s 2008 peace album, “Kenya Unite”, Binadamu tuko sawa, Jeshi tuko imara, Mzozano ni wa nini, Tuachane na vita.
In August 2008, she released her first solo album, Kipla, — a diverse and inspiring mix of soulful love and socially conscious ballads and mid tempo zouk arranged by Michel Ungaro’s and with the backing of seasoned musician Jean Claude Kasongo wa Kanema of Super Mazembe.
The didactic 12-track album covers a broad range of themes from love, obedience, upright living, trust, to social responsibility. It is sung in Kalenjin, Kiswahili, English, French, Lingala, Luhya, Taita, Kirundi and Pokomo. Chumba now performs with her own 10-piece band.