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Leo Mkanyia is a blues guitarist and songwriter from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Born into a family of musicians, Leo has been playing music for 20 years. He was first inspired by his father, a well-known jazz guitarist in Tanzania.

Leo has created his own modern style, which he calls Swahili Blues. He sings in both Swahili and French, but prefers to sing in his mother tongue, Swahili. Leo is also a guitar tutor and a student. He has also worked as a peer educator, singing songs that teach the community about HIV and AIDS.

In September 2011, Leo made his international debut, playing on the prestigious Southbank at the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London at the London African Music Festival. In February 2012, he played at the Sauti za Busara music festival in Zanzibar, and will again in 2015. In 2013 he played at Bayimba Festival of the Arts in Uganda.

Leo independently released his first four-track EP cd in May 2010, Dunia Hii (This World). He released his first full-length album in August 2011, Jasho Langu (My Sweat).A new album is due to be released in 2014.

Leo plays in Dar es Salaam at the Serena Hotel every Friday night.

Leo spends his time practising music, teaching guitar, studying languages, and being a dad to a baby girl.


Leo Mkanyia and the Swahili Blues Band play every Friday night in the Serena Hotel restaurant in Dar es Salaam 7-10 pm. Watch the blog posts for other gigs.