About Samite

The world-renowned musician Samite was born and raised in Uganda, where his grandfather taught him to play the traditional flute. When he was twelve, a music teacher placed a western flute in his hands setting him on his way to becoming one of East Africa's most acclaimed flutists. He performed frequently to enthusiastic audiences throughout Uganda until 1982, when he was forced to flee to Kenya as a political refugee. Samite immigrated to the United States in 1987, and now he and his wife Sandra make their home in Ithaca, New York. Today his smooth vocals accompanied by the kalimba, marimba, litungu, and various flutes mesmerize audiences throughout the world

Samite has released eight CDs internationally and in 2009, the film Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, which features his original score, debuted nationally on PBS. Samite released My Music World, in 2010 and, as he states, the album captures more of who he is than any of his previous albums. "It represents influences from all the places I have been, from my childhood in Uganda, and my life in Kenya as a refugee, to my current travels in Africa with my work for Musicians for World Harmony. I am always inspired by my surroundings– my childhood hikes into the forest, my teenage years in Kampala, and my visits to refugee camps and orphanages." Most recently, Samite composed the soundtrack for the film Addiction Incorporated and his ninth CD, Trust {Inspired by the soundtrack for the film "Addiction Incorporated"} is scheduled to be released in early 2012.

Samite is the subject of the documentary, Song of the Refugee, distributed by PBS in 1998. It was while filming this that Samite's work as a humanitarian began. In 2002, he founded Musicians for World Harmony, an organization dedicated to enabling musicians throughout the world to share their music to promote peace, understanding, and harmony among people. In that capacity he travels to sing, play music, and exchange stories with victims of war, poverty and HIV/AIDS. He has traveled extensively the war-torn and distressed countries of Uganda, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Latvia, Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire to work in refugee camps, with former child soldiers and AIDS orphans. In his role as Founding Director of Musicians for World Harmony, Samite is fortunate to bring his message of peace to a wide audience. He performed his arrangement of the traditional Baganda song, Ani Oyo for The Dalai Lama in 2007 during Bridging Worlds with His Holiness The Dalia Lama in Ithaca, NY. In 2009 he performed at "Connecting For Change," part of the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit: Nobel Laureates in Dialogue, hosted by the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. In the fall of 2011, Samite performed and spoke at the UNHCR 60th Anniversary Celebration in New York City.

Review Highlights

The multiple rhythms are forceful but not domineering, and Samite's melodies ride over and through them to create a soothing, almost lullaby-like effect. It's modern African folk music...

~ Los Angeles Times

 When Samite translated his songs, their serenity seemed almost miraculous.

~ New York Times 

Samite wraps his warm voice around melodies that seem to rise up off the Ugandan plateau, caressed by his kalimbas and other native instruments.

~ Billboard

Organic, rootsy and yet highly sophisticated.

~ Sing Out Magazine

Samite's Discography

My Music World
Samite Music, 2010


My Music World is a gift to Samite fans, who have allowed him to share his life stories with them and have made his music part of their life stories. This music is one more story for them. Here, Samite explores his Ugandan roots and celebrates the world of musical influences that he enjoys while drawing attention to the plight of the endangered mountain gorillas and the rainforests they call home.

Embalasasa
Triloka Records, 2006


Embalasasa comprises ten tracks of soothing piano, kalimba, drums and acoustic guitar. The title track recalls memories of a lizard that seems attractive to touch but gives a lethal bite. "As kids, my granddad cautioned us against playing with this lizard, and he killed it always," explains Samite. "I have used it as an allusion to sex, saying it may be beautiful but it can bite you with AIDS. I am calling upon my granddad to help us get rid of this epidemic." The song is a cry for help and a testimony to the futility that 25 years of AIDS research has yielded.

Tunula Eno
Triloka Records, 2003


Tunula Eno a work of commitment, devotion and an overwhelming sense of humanity. Written and recorded during the last year of his late wife, Joan, before she died. The album is a celebration of that which makes us human: love, loss, endurance, hope. It is a joyous album conveying optimism through stories and song, replete with swirling melodies, infectious rhythms and soulful vocals. Indeed these songs are a reflection of life itself.

Kambu Angels
Wind Over The Earth, 2001


Kambu Angels was inspired by an Africa that is renewing itself, the people, and particularly the children. They are the spirit at the heart of this album. Samite uses the strength of his voice and his playful kalimbas to weave this colorful landscape of theme and melody. It is an album about peace, renewal, forgiveness, grace, and joy.

Stars to Share
Windham Hill, 1999


Stars to Share is another giant step by an artist who has made a career out of confounding expectations. This time, Samite has set aside his marimba and litungu (traditional Kenyan harp) for the subtle rhythms of the kalimba. Samite's music tends to be evocative, and on this album the mood evoked is more contemplative than some of his previous albums.

Silina Musango
Xenophile Records, 1996


Silina Musango is filled with fleeting snatches of a wide assortment of sounds and textures. These provide Samite's falsetto vocals with an ever-changing and beautiful background of instrumental moods. A light but frothy mixture of accordions, marimbas, kalimbas, litungus, guitars, drums and flutes swirls around the vocals giving the album a flowing and timeless quality.

Pearl of Africa Reborn
Shanachie Records, 1992


Samite's autobiographical music recalls his homeland in Pearl of Africa Reborn and honors his mother, to whom this album is dedicated. Accompanying himself with rolling, repetitious figures on a variety of kalimbas (thumb pianos), Samite sings about his mother's cooking, her storytelling, the introduction of the English language to Uganda, bicycles, and fear.

Dance, My Children, Dance (Abaana Bakesa)
Shanachie Records, 1990


Amazingly diverse, the broad spectrum of musical styles heard on the African continent range from happy and upbeat to moody and tranquil. Samite definitely favors tranquility on this very haunting and hypnotic CD. In addition to providing all of the album's vocals, Samite plays most of its instruments -- including the kalimba, the marimba, the litungu, African flutes and various African percussions. A multi-faceted individual, the earthy Samite sees to it that this album is enriching from start to finish.

African Dreamland
Putumayo world music, 2008


The fourth release in Putumayo Kids' successful Dreamland series, African Dreamland features enchanting and calming African songs for relaxation and sweet dreams.

African Playground
Putumayo world music, 2003


An entertaining and educational musical expedition to Africa for children and families.

Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees (Soundtrack)
Four Winds (Ryko), 2003

African Lullaby
Ellipsis Arts, 1999

Music from the Coffee Lands
Putumayo World Music, 1997

On a Winter's Night
Philips, 1997

African Voices (Songs Of Life)
Narada, 1996

Native Wisdom (WorldMusic Of The Spirit)
Narada, 1996

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