Suzanna Owiyo Biography: Age, Early Life, Education, Marriage, Career, Controversy, Philanthropy

From being a high shool star to becoming an international idol

By  | May 25, 2020, 11:00 AM  | Suzanna Owíyo  | Top of The

Suzanna Owiyo is an African legend who has worked with the likes of the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi and performed alongside Rebecca Malope.

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Seeing the transition in music from olden days to what the industry is today, during her interview with Standard Media she had this to say,

“I think there is pressure for the current generation. You want to be a star overnight and end up doing all sorts of things to be relevant. But I would rather be irrelevant with a mission. I would rather be relevant to something that can impact society. I don’t want to be relevant just because I have been throwing my booty left, right and centre.”

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Exclaiming her shock to cultural change,

“What is this craze about women and their booties? For us African women, it is natural. We have it, darling. So whenever I am taking pictures I don’t have to show it. We are all taking pictures of our behinds. I do not understand the fascination - it is unbelievable! We are losing our cultural values which is not a good thing.”

Suzanna Owiyo has performed at different functions around the world and has performed for the likes of Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama and many more world delegates.

Here's her biography and her rise to fame.  

Suzanna Owiyo Age

Suzanna Owiyo was born on the 10th of May in 1976. She is 45 years old

Suzanna Owiyo Early Life

Suzanna Owiyo was raised by both her parents alongside her 14 siblings in Thika. She is the only musician in her family.

One of her favourite childhood memories was singing for Pope John Paul II when he visited Kenya in 1985.

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Suzanna Owiyo would visit her grandparent’s place in Kisumu. During the visit, the whole family would gather around her grandfather, admiring him playing the Nyatiti as he was a renowned Nyatiti player in the country.  

Suzanna Owiyo Education

Suzanna Owiyo went to Rae Girls High School in Gem Rae Sub location, Kisumu County. 

In High School, Suzanna Owiyo won different school singing competitions and she got the passion to be a musician from her legendary grandfather. 

Suzanna Owiyo Marriage

Suzanna Owiyo is married to the business mogul, Eric Ounga who owns the Ounga Commercial Agencies which deals with real estate. They got married in 2006. The couple is blessed with a daughter, named Nadia. 

Suzanna Owiyo has been married to Mr Ounga Oguda as a second wife for a period of sixteen years. 

Suzanna Owiyo Career

After high school in 1998, Suzanna Owiyo joined forces with a Nairobi star singer, Sally Oyugi as a backup vocalist.

In 2000, Suzanna Owiyo parted ways with Oyugi to team up with a band in Nairobi called Bora Bora Sound, but she later went back to sing in Kisumu.

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It was here that a young business entrepreneur discovered her and he offered her the first guitar she owned in life and mastered her craft. She then went back to Nairobi and undertook music lessons at the Kenya Conservatoire of Music while continuing to sing at a club in Karen. 

During the 2002-2004 preparations for the centennial celebrations of the city of Kisumu, Suzanna Owiyo was requested to compose a theme song for the opening ceremony.

Suzanna Owiyo saw the opportunity to stretch her work to an album with Kenyan music producer Tedd Josiah.

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Her debut album gained her recognition at the Kora Awards 2002 in the “Most Promising Female Artist category”. The album again won her a Kisima Award for the Most Promising Female Artist of 2003. Suzanna Owiyo was booked for numerous concerts in Kenya and abroad thereafter. 

In June 2003, Suzanna Owiyo had a performance at the Kenyan Festival in Paris organized by Alliance Française. Two months later, she had an amazing performance in East Africa at the Pan-African music Festival in Brazzaville where it was a clash of stars such as Youssou N’dour, Koffi Olomide and the South African gospel mogul Rebecca Malope.

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She closed the year off with a performance in December at Djibouti. 

Suzanna Owiyo continued growing her brand and started touring internationally. In 2004, she had a performance at the Festival Mundial in Tilburg, the Netherlands. 

Later that year, Suzanna was announced to be one of the African female artists to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, where she performed with her band.  She had performances with great and big-time artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Botti, Patti Labelle and Baba Maal.

She later had a tour to France, the United States, and Japan.

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Her performance at the annual Corporate Council on Africa Summit in Baltimore, Maryland gained her international fans. Suzanna was again afforded an opportunity for an international performance at the World Trade Expo in Japan, the Zanzibar International Film Festival in Zanzibar. 

She concluded her year with an invitation to perform at the Jamhuri Day fete in Washington DC. While in the United States, Suzanna Owiyo made several appearances in Maryland and New York where she was performing at different locations.

In 2007, Suzanna Owíyo was part of the Divas of The Nile supergroup with the likes of Mercy Myra, Achieng Abura and Princess Jully. The group performed at the Festival Mundial in 2007.

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Suzanna Owiyo was part of the Divas of The Nile supergroup, that featured four Kenyan female musicians. The others were Mercy Myra, Achieng Abura and Princess Jully. Suzanna Owiyo was amongst the artists announced to be performing for the delegates who had attended the World Social Forum held in Nairobi.

As a global star and an activist, Suzanna Owiyo recorded and performed the Anti-corruption campaign organised by the Kenya Anti-corruption Campaign steering committee. Suzanna Owiyo again recorded a theme song for the Kenya Tourist Board. June 2007, Suzanna Owiyo represented Kenya at the MASA Festival held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

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She performed at the prestigious Event called Yara Prize Awards held in Oslo. She performed alongside legends such as Papa Wemba from DRC Congo and the Brass Brothers. In December 2007, Suzanna Owiyo performed at the New Year's Eve Concert in Maputo, Mozambique. Suzanna Owiyo performed at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert in London. As an activist, she was again invited to perform at the WOMEX festival.

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Suzanna Owiyo Controversy

Due to Covid-19, the country shut down instantly, this led to Kenya closing all the operations.  People didn’t corporate initially and it led to police brutality.

Suzanna posted on her social media

 “We are not at war, yes but at times policemen/women are forced to go hard on Wanjiku simply because of Tuko Vichwa ngumu’. Plan yourself not to be caught up on the wrong side of the law. Your safety is important as well as your health. Can we all have an understanding here?” she wrote.

Her sentiments were not well-received as it was after videos were shared of how police officers brutally attacked citizens on the first night of the curfew that was ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Here is what people thought about Suzanna Owiyo’s tweet:

Jacky Habib said,

 “How in the world are you a UN goodwill ambassador and yet you’re endorsing police violence? You should be ashamed.”

Steve Ogolla commented,

“It’s so sad to see Suzzana Owiyo struggling to fit in. But she struggles the wrong way. We will be here to defend her when brutality catches up with her.”

Marira Eugene posted,

“You saw that woman at Likoni who had a seizure in the commotion right? It was 5:00 pm, what do you think she would say if she saw this tweet? Just bc you can afford to stay at home doesn’t mean you do PR for rogue police, you’re a national figure, shame on you #CurfewKenya.”

Suzanna Owiyo Philanthropy

As a humanitarian, Suzanna Owiyo travelled to the United States in 2006 to visit the University of Florida to help start an Arts in Medicine program which she later launched at the Mater Hospital in Nairobi.

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Suzanna Owiyo was named one of the representatives for 46664, Nelson Mandela's global campaign that promoted human rights and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. The campaign's slogan "It's all in our hands".

The activist has also participated in various advocacy campaigns for creating awareness such as women empowerment project initiated by the Kenya Women Political Caucus.

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Having been in the industry foe decades, Suzanna Owiyo wants nothing, but to keep delivering great music for the fans.

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