How President Mwai Kibaki Boosted My Music Career

What do you remember most about the late President Mwai Kibaki?

I have never been so connected. I just got a call from State House in 2010. It was like a dream. Watching everyone dance and shout to my music was encouraging. Lucy Kibaki was dancing to my music. We were then invited to the State House garden party, where Kibaki encouraged me to sell my CDs on the stage. Since that day, my career has reached a new level. I started getting phone calls from embassies and other state functions, including the Kenya @50 celebrations. It was a blessed trip.

How did you break into music?

I had just recorded my song ‘Kaswech’ before the elections. I wasn’t doing it for the elections, but the media ran it. They even asked me to translate it. This is how my name and my music entered the main market. I didn’t get into music for the money. In fact, for the first few years, I had a day job. I worked for Engen Oil food chains as a cashier and for a Catholic NGO called Monastery Fathers. Later, I quit to pursue my passion.

When did you know you would be a gospel musician?

I never imagined being a musician although I was raised in the church. As a pastor’s daughter, it was not uncommon to sing in church. It was just a way of worshiping God.

Unknown to many, you were part of the Maximum Melodies Singers. Tell me about it.

I joined the group when I was a student at Utalii College, where I was taking a course in hospitality. I have always dreamed of being an air hostess. However, my path changed when I met Esther Wahome and became her backing vocalist. She encouraged me to record, but at first I refused. I was very scared. She kept encouraging and pushing me, even threatening to end our friendship at some point!

Why did you hesitate?

In my mind, I thought that recording music was the preserve of certain people. I couldn’t see how Emmy Kosgei, a normal villager from Mogotio, could record a song and turn it into a professional career. There were many, many celebrities. Esther encouraged me to sing in Kalenjin. She said that with my looks (I was a model at the time) and my voice, I would be successful if I ventured into kalenjin music. However, the media was not ready to broadcast my music. I encountered obstacles and discouragement from the media.

Why don’t you say so?

When I finished recording ‘Katau Banda’, I called a radio personality and asked if they could play my music. He told me outright that they couldn’t play any vernacular music. He said he thought Kalenjins were only good at athletics and wondered why I was singing. I asked him to listen to my music before passing judgment, but he refused. From that day on, I decided not to approach the media anymore to play my songs.

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