Kenen Azerbayev (May, 8 1884 - April, 12 1976) – a Kazakh akyn and zhyrau, a singer and a composer, a member of the Union of writers and composers of the USSR.
Kenen Azerbayev was born in the Kurdaysky region of Zhambylsky area in poor family. His father Azerbay and mother Uldar, good singers and dombrists, cultivated for him love of music and of national song. After Uldar’s death, Azerbay, having left the seven-year old son in brother Abdenbaya’s care, went away to look for chance. The uncle’s quarrelsome wife didn’t stand Kenen and he had to become a shepherd in Aymen’s rich house. It is known that children mature quickly in the grip of poverty. Kenen matured early. From an early age he started to compose melodies and songs. Grown up in poverty, he knew life well.
Kenen Azerbayev saw the suffer of the common people from early ages. In the childhood it seemed to him that some people were born to rule, others - to obey. Having grown up, he understood that it was not so. The teenage period of his life was very difficult. His early songs Saltayak, Auyr tayak, Zhorga tayak, Kakpa tas tell about it. Kenen Azerbayev passed school of outstanding akyns and speakers, whose talent was seen the true value by the Kazakh society. Such well-known akyns as Suyunbay, Baktybay, Maykot, Kulmanbet, Zhambyl, Sarbas, Kaban, Kylyshbay, Tilemis, Kebekbay, Nogaybay, Sapak, Boltrik, etc. were not only his teachers, but also team-mates. They competed with each other on aytys. Oral song competition in improvisation style played a huge role in life of the Kazakh people, in development of its song culture.
In 1916 Kenen Azerbayev took direct part in the national-liberation movement of the Kazakhs of Semirechye against colonial policy of the Russian Empire. After the cruel suppression of the revolt he was in exile. His autobiographical work Oy bulbul was composed in exile.
Kenen took part in the establishment of the Soviet power in Kazakhstan. Kenen was always among the people. In his songs he sang of the people, new life that came to the Kazakh auls. In 1936 Kenen took part in a decade of culture of Kazakhstan in Moscow. In 1959 the 75th and in 1974 – the 90th anniversaries of great akyn were celebrated. His anniversaries were celebrated by all Kazakhstan. In 1984 Kazakhstan celebrated Kenen Azerbayev’s centenary. In his birth-place in Eshklikurday Kenen's museum was founded. Kenen will always in the memory of descendants.