Born in the diamond-rich country of Sierra Leone, West Africa, Kow Kanda has had a fascination for music from a very early age. He began listening to the sounds of South African artist Miriam Makeba, also known as Mama Africa. The late Ms. Makeba became an international symbol for African music and a definite inspiration for many African vocalists, including Kow Kanda. The influence of other genres of music, via radio transmission from overseas, and the reminiscent sounds his grandmother's singing abilities and teachings, reinforced Kow Kanda's persistence in pursuing a career in music.
During his teenage years, one of Sierra Leone's best known female vocalists and mentor was Patricia Abu Bakaar. Ms. Bakaar was the first artist to hand Kow Kanda a microphone to let him have his fifteen minutes of fame. The audience response was outstanding. Eventually, Kow Kanda was invited to join the Afro National Band and later the Military Dance Band of Sierra Leone. Actively performing at various venues throughout the country, Kow Kanda has also had the rare opportunity to entertain for President Momoh, the leader of Sierra Leone at that time.
In 1986, Kow Kanda, as many African's have done before him, decided to seek a new life in Canada. Mixed emotions of leaving his homeland coupled with the feelings of unfamiliarity, sparked the beginning of a new chapter in his life when he reunited with family members already in Toronto. Kow Kanda soon adjusted to a new culture, the first sight of snow, and a world of possibilities. Kow Kanda continued his musical career by forming a local Toronto-based band called Bongo Kellehtigie. At the same time, he was also pursuing his interest in becoming a professional certified cook. Performing live throughout Toronto by night and cooking by day, Kow Kanda felt that burning the midnight oil was not conducive to a successful career in music. With many obstacles that new residents face, Kowkanda was no exception. At one point, he was beginning to second-guess his singing career and questioned whether his cooking would overshadow his true love of music. It was after accepting a cooking position in British Columbia in 1996, the plateau he had reached, was about to escalate.
Shortly after his arrival in British Columbia, he met and formed a friendship with a well traveled friend named Eric, AKA: The Globe Explorer. Eric was a business professional and a true believer in the musical artistry that Kow kanda displayed. Eric also believed that his own experience and connections combined with Kow Kanda's talent would be an interesting project to pursue. Having witnessed encore after encore from music hungry spectators at various venues, Eric created Kow Kanda Enterprises & Entertainment Company. Almost simultaneously, Kow Kanda traveled to Africa to record his debut CD titled: Blind Faith. This ten track afropop disc was recorded in Ghana and released in Canada. The recordings are a fusion of traditional African, reggae and pop formats and resulted in being a stepping stone for future projects. The CD captured airplay in various geographical pockets around the world, from Australia and Aruba to U.S. radio markets in Washington, Hawaii and Michigan.
Following the release of Blind Faith, the Band Kow Kanda was formed. Comprised of a talented mix of African, American, Canadian and Latin musicians, the party continued up to the next level with the release of a new recording, titled: Gbengbeh. Meaning HOT in the Sierra-Leonian language of Temne, which explains in a word, this collection of melodious uptempo sounds direct from Africa. Having performed at many festivals worldwide, including opening for South African musician Johnny Clegg & Savuka and also Nigeria's King Sunny Ade, Kow Kanda is back on track and feeling his own groove.
The future of Kow Kanda includes new recordings and an entertainment schedule that will have you dancing in your seats or on stage! Although Kow Kanda still continues to perfect a balancing act between cooking and music, both of these talents exemplifies his attributes and also showcases the spirit of Africa.