Klo & Kweh Music Team History
The story of Klo & Kweh Music Team began in 2001 when Rev. Dr. Yaha Lay Lay La started thinking about promoting Karen language, identity, and cultural exchange through music. Knowing that music is a very powerful medium that can cut through any boundary – cultural, social or otherwise, the idea of conveying positive, inspirational social and cultural messages via music was born by the coming together of six Karen vocalists and four instrumentalists.
The original Klo & Kweh vocalists were Merdy Say, Marvellous, Shee Htoo, Hser Paw Htoo, Bee Cher, and Blut Law La. The original instrumentalists in the group are Aung Doo (keyboards), Boy (lead guitar), Bo Tauk (drum), and Winston (bass). Together they released their first album, Par-Doh Klo & Kweh, in December 2001. The legendary and award-winning Karen songwriter, Saw Thomas, composed both title songs: Par-Doh and Klo & Kweh. The album was simultaneously debuted in Burma, Singapore, Australia and the United States through a network of Karen community organizations and churches. This very first international collaboration was a great success. A record of 4000 CDs sold and became an instant hit in Karen communities everywhere, both in and outside of Burma. This success was followed by numerous requests for concerts and performances in cities such as Pathein, Manadalay, Taunggyi and Chiangmai.
Soon after, KKMT added new members to the team. Win Htwe joined the team as its keyboardist, while vocalists such as Eh Wah, Eh Ler Tha, Smaller, Phyu Phyu Thet Kyu, Hsaw Say Poe, Akyinar Thomas, Blut Law La and Tha Mee participated more regularly in many KKMT tours.
In 2004, the group’s second collaboration came into fruition. The “Stars from the East” live show VCD, a combination of gospel and love songs, was released under the banner of Klo & Kweh. It gained recognition from churches all over the country and audience of all ages. The success of this VCD led KKMT to special appearances at national events such as Karen New Year celebration and the 2nd Congress of Karen Baptist Christian Endeavor Union (KBCEU).
In 2005, at the invitation of Thailand Karen Baptist Convention, KKMT took its first overseas tour and performed in front of more than 3000 music-hungry fans in Chiangmai. The team also visited over a dozen Karen villages in Northern Thailand.
In 2006, KKMT released its first completely gospel series titled “P’ka-mar-moo-htaw-kay P’dar-tha-khu-ka-saw” in Karen. In 2008, Naw Linda, one of the most gifted vocalists in KKMT, made her solo debut with the release of “ta’nyaw ta’nyaw,” which brought her to the limelight of Karen music world.
In 2009, KKMT released another successful anthology, “htar htee htar,” and subsequently produced its 9th Anniversary Live Show VCD in early 2010. Later in that year, for the second time they travelled to Thailand, where upon their arrival at Chiangmai International Airport, they were besieged by hundreds of fans.
In 2009, a well-known Karen model and vocalist, Saw Hackette, became its newest member. While some of the foremost KKMT vocalists have gone onto pursuing other professional careers, Marvellous, Linda and Smaller remain the team’s prominent vocalists to date.
Most recently in early 2011, KKMT presented what was to become the greatest outdoor musical performance ever in the history of Karen people. It was a fundraising concert to help complete the construction of multi-purpose education center in the Karen Baptist Theological Seminary compound. The concert included a 150 choir singers, over 100 violinists and many well-known Karen musicians and artist. More than three thousand people came to enjoy the concert.
Founded in 2001, the Klo & Kweh Music Team is one of the best known Karen musical bands among ethnic Karen people living in Burma, Thailand and the world over. It is a multi-genres musical group with an aim to preserve and promote Karen language and cultural identity, and engage in intercultural exchange activities through music. As a Rangoon-based non-profit musical group, it has traveled to and performed in cities throughout Burma and in neighboring countries – Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Consisting of Karen musicians with remarkable talents and hard works, KKMT embraces modernity with cultural sensitivity. Collectively, Klo & Kweh musicians sing, play and perform a wide range of musical genres – pop, rock, fusion and traditional – both in secular and gospel realms. And yet the group remains closely connected with its own cultural roots. All of them are proficient in multiple languages – Burmese, Sqaw Karen and Pwo Karen. Through their music, lyrics and performances, KKMT seeks to preserve the use of Karen language, promote cross-cultural awareness and advocate for creative diversity.
Socially conscious, KKMT has organized several trips to Irrawaddy Delta area after Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 and performed for free in many villages as part of its “music therapy” program. In addition, it has participated in numerous fundraising concerts for the Karen Baptist Convention and Karen Baptist Theological Seminary. Most recently in February 2011, KKMT lead a mega-fundraising concert and managed to fill more than 2,000 seats at the Karen Baptist Theological compound in Insein, Rangoon.
This year KKMT celebrates a decade of musical accomplishments – 10th anniversary of its founding – a significant milestone in the history of the group. Hoping that they are granted a U.S. visa, KKMT plans to tour the United States later this year, and, with the arrangements of local Karen community organizations, plan to present four major benefit concerts in Utica, Buffalo, St. Paul and Omaha. While the tour itself is being organized, in part, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its founding, all the planned concerts are aimed at raising much needed funds for the victims of Bago Yoma famine and completion of multi-purpose educational center currently under construction at KBTS.
1. Aung Doo (Audio Engineer and Director)
2. Boy (Lead guitar)
3. Winston (Bass guitar)
4. Bo Tauk (Drums)
5. Win Htwe (Keyboards)
6. Marvellous (Vocalist)
7. Linda (Vocalist)
8. Smaller (Vocalist)
9. Hackett (Vocalist)