Who is he?
Austine Odhiambo, popularly known as Emma Jalamo, was born in 1980, in Mathare Slums in Nairobi and raised in Ugunja, Siaya County. He is an Ohangla musician and songwriter seen in the smooth flow of Luo rhyme, idiom, and metaphor in his music.
Odhiambo is second born in a family of six. Emma Jalamo joined school at the age of 12 and never completed his primary education. He revealed that life was hard and they had to seek menial jobs to make ends meet. By then, going to school was too much of a luxury to be afforded.
As a member of Nehema Church where he became a choir team leader, he discovered his singing talent. But he had no idea that music would be his gateway to a better life.
When he produced his first music album, a gospel composition containing six songs, he continued to do menial jobs to earn a living. His stage name back then was Emmanuel. It is from this name that he came up with Emma, which is its short form, while Jalamo means prayerful in Dholuo.
It was the brief encounter with musician Seth Oloo in 2008 that properly ushered him into the world of music. Seth invited him to help for a night playing the piano and later paid him Ksh 600 ($6) and his eyes opened and saw a career in music. At this stage, Emma Jalamo was switching from gospel to secular music.
Oloo was the leader of the traditional dance group and was looking to replace his keyboard player who had left. Desperate for a job, Emma Jalamo grabbed the opportunity. While working with Seth, Emma Jalamo managed to buy his own keyboard which he could give out for hire at a fee.
When Oloo left in 2009, the group of seven who remained to continue for some time before the band eventually broke up in 2010.
Emma Jalamo then joined Kenya musician Lady Maureen with whom they performed for more than six months as a curtain-raiser. While working with Lady Maureen, Emma Jalamo could sing a mixture of copyright songs when on stage. With his soothing voice, he won the hearts of many fans who in return encouraged him to compose his own songs.
Much of Emma’s success is attributed to the unique genre of his composition. Jalamo’s songs combine Benga, Ohangla, and Rhumba into a new whole blend that attracts all fans of the three categories. And it is because of this reason that he named his band Ramogi Ohangla Rhumba (R.O.R).
Emma Jalamo is married to Amilo nyar Nyakach. They have three children; Mary, Oscar, and Ramsey. When he is off his busy music schedule, Emma is attending to his family and businesses. He runs a foundation and a recording studio under the label Lelo Production.
Emma Jalamo worked with Lady Maureen until he produced his first album, First Lady. Due to this achievement, Lady Maureen advised him to form his band. Emma Jalamo went ahead and looked for a team that could assist him to deliver live performances whenever he got a show. but it was he released his third album, Simba Ja Uriri in August 2012 that he was catapulted to fame. Songs like Ma e ndalo, Jaraha, and Gololi in the album became his fan’s favorites immediately.
Apart from Simba Ja Uriri, other albums under Jalamo’s name include; Macelina, Mapenzi, Osiepe, Sherry, and Ruth Rembo.