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Maria, Kenya Peace Musician, Speaks.
Maria, who sings praise and worship and preaches peace through songs, is part of the many artists advocating for peace in Kenya through songs. “I grew up with lots of bitterness, loneliness, rejection, negative attitude towards life, hopelessness but my mother always stood by me,” she says and adds, “I never thought my music would get this far, taking me all the way to USA to perform in churches and other big events where I have shared a platform with other re-known artists. There’s this specific one that happened at Asbury Methodist Church, Wichita.”
How was your childhood like?
I’m a third child in a family of five. I was raised in a polygamous family. I never enjoyed the childhood privileges like other children would normally do. My mom was very strong Christian, a high school teacher. Many a times I was send home for lack of school fees, having a very abusive dad who never recognized us as his family. Mom raised us as a single parent.
Take us through your education background, what did you want to become or was it just about music?
I grew up with lots of bitterness, loneliness, rejection, negative attitude towards life, hopelessness but my mother always stood by me. I attended Kimilili girls’ primary and Turbo Girls then Namwela High School. I joined Kenya school of professional studies where I enrolled for a course in hotel management, catering and air travel along side computer. I later on landed a job as a manager in a computer school where I worked for 2 years. I found my way to Uganda in pursuit for greener pastures and there I found a job as a manager at a three star hotel. My childhood dream was to be an air hostess but due to lack of enough resources I couldn’t advance my studies .In the process I joined a theological college and while there I joined the worship team. I slowly started training on piano and guitar. For several years I’ve been training music teams. It has always been my passion to train upcoming musicians who cannot afford to enroll for music classes. I developed my own theories of teaching vocals and piano. Through this I have been able to identify and nature talent among the youth especially in the slum.
When did you realize you can sing?
After high school. Having gone through a rebellious youthful life, I felt hopeless. Through my college life, everything concerning my life seemed so wrong. Even the career. I then decided to join school of theology and that’s when I began singing. That was the piece in the puzzle that was missing. I had found myself. Since then nothing has barred me from singing. It is what gives me joy.
What kind of music do you do? Why that type of music, what motivates you to do that kind of music?
Praise and Worship but currently I preach peace through songs. I was privileged to perform at the National Peace Conference in August this year where I left my audience yearning for more. I also compose cooperate anthems and theme songs .Reggae, hip-hop, African cultural songs, zouk are among the kind of music that I produce. I love music in general and that enables me to fit in any music genre as long it is gospel. Music is like food and oxygen to me. Music connects me so much to God. It me gives me inner satisfaction and rejuvenates my soul , knowing where God picked me from and loved me when no one else could. He restored my worth, taught me to love those who despise me, those who are hurt, rejected, abandoned and orphaned. I am motivated by what happens around me.
What are the highlights of your music career, take us through the biggest moments, do you have an album or albums?
I never thought my music would get this far, taking me all the way to USA to perform in churches and other big events where I have shared a platform with other re-known artists. There’s this specific one that happened at Asbury Methodist Church, Wichita. Everyone wanted to shake my hand and just congratulate me for the good performance. I was so touched and humbled. Glory to God. I ‘m the founder of His Praise Music (HPM) talent search ,an event which brought together youth from Bungoma County and beyond. My latest hit performance was at the National peace Conference where The President and other top government officials were in attendance. I also work closely with organizations eg Peace net Kenya, Community Housing Foundation (CHF) with a common goal of promoting peace. To me, this is favor from above and I don’t take anything for granted.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Piracy is a big challenge to any artist out there. For any song to become a song, it needs to be taken through a not very easy process. It hurts so much to hear your music playing and being sold along River Road like it was never yours before! Market is itself a problem in its own way. People today get the music online. That means less of the dvds and cds are being sold and one has to strive to keep abreast with the market demands. Producing music is also very expensive and it needs you to have enough savings to get there.
How do you balance work and family?
I ’am able to balance family and work because I have a very loving, understanding and supportive husband who is also my advisor. He plays piano and bass guitar alongside singing. My children are such sweethearts and they understand that mummy has time for them and time for work. They sometimes join me when during shooting and live performances. Jerry is a good dancer, John is slowly working on his vocals. Mathew plays drum sets while Hanna is already developing interest and learning the piano at only six years. I ‘am able to plan myself well with help from my family.
What next for Maria? What is in store for your fans, where do you see yourself in the next few years
In the next few years by God’s grace, I would love to have a talent school that will have youth interested in music and arts enrolled. I would also want to see myself as a peace ambassador. At a time like this, Kenya doesn’t need the gospel of getting saved. Kenyans need the gospel of peace and that’s what I want to constantly preach to them .I ‘am currently working on new songs with a very strong message and I promise you will like them!
Any word of advice to upcoming artists?
Be yourselves and always work at developing whatever skills you already have. This is a large industry and you have to keep abreast with its extremely fast growth. Try and be as original as you can and don’t try to be what you are not. You are unique just the way you are.