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Musician’s childhood dream that came true

By Harriet James
Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
Juvenalis Amonde. Photo/COURTESY
In summary
    • Apart from music Juvenalis Amonde ventured in acting and featured in  local TV Programmes such as Mella House in KBC.
    • He formed the Ni sisi band in 2011
    • He has performed for various presidents including the late Daniel arap Moi, former president Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta.
    • His passion for music started in childhood.

Harriet James @harriet86jim

Juvenalis Amonde aka Juveh wowed Kenyans with his baritone voice after he participated in the fourth season of Tusker Project Fame (TPF) in 2010and emerged amongst the top 10.

While most of the contestants have quit music for better paying careers, Juveh is still hanging on in the industry performing in various functions with his Ni Sisi Band, singing cover songs and releasing songs. 

He has acted in various programmes in KBC and Maisha Magic. He was also among the artistes who performed for President Uhuru Kenyatta in his second inauguration ceremony at State House where presidents from various countries such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni were present. All these achievements, makes his mother, Beatrice Atieno proud.

“That was one of his best moments in life. He told me that when he saw the presidents smile as he sang the song, My land is Kenya by Roger Whitaker, he felt that it was worth doing music,” she says. 

Juveh’s passion for music began in his childhood back in the 90s. He would sing with other children in their neighbourhood at Nakuru, Railway station area.

His major achievement as a kid was winning an award while he was in nursery school after singing a folk song in 1992.

He went on singing during his primary and secondary school years, never missing music festivals and even choir practises.

He also formed a musical group called Chekesha Holix, while in Menengai High School between 2001 and 2004. 

Going places

“Music made him step into State House every year because he would win the music festivals at national level.

Juvenalis Amonde and his mother Beatrice Atieno when he was evicted at TPF. Photo/COURTESY

He has sang before the late president Daniel arap Moi and also President Mwai Kibaki,” she recalls.

After completing his secondary education, he did part time jobs and sang at church’s worship team before opting to join the National Youth Service.

But he resigned shortly after in 2007, joined Tears Group Kenya, a community and youth based organisation consisting of artistes using their creative arts talents.

He further joined Tabev Music School, Nakuru to study music. Here, Juveh formed the Pamoja Band where he was the drummer.

It is also while he was here that he heard of TPF and desired to be part of it. He felt that joining TPF would make him famous and also jump start his music career.

After four failed attempts in different years, finally in the year 2010, he received a call that he had been accepted.

My son has a never-say-die attitude, which has made him survive in music. At first, the judges didn’t like his performance, but because of his determination since 2007 to be part of the academy, they accepted him.

It was a dream come true,” says the mother of seven.

Lessons from TPF

Being a teacher, at first Atieno didn’t like the idea of his son becoming a musician.

However, seeing his determination and hard work, she has now become one of his greatest supporters.

His participation in TPF also made her have a new name in the neighbourhood as Mama Celeb.

“I used to lobby for people to vote for him and keep him in the academy. I would also pray for him a lot,” she narrates 

Juveh, however, had to stop school for a while to join the academy. Here, he got to mingle with celebrities and enjoy a lavish lifestyle.

In addition, he got to interact with his fellow contestants, relationships that he still treasures up to date, even singing with one of them, Doreen Nyawira in his band.

“He learnt to take criticisms positively and this went a long way in building his talent,” Atieno reveals.

After TPF, Juveh had made a lot of fans. People linked fame and money, so they though he had made it in life and sometimes called him for favours. 

“People expected a lot from the contestants. If you board a matatu, they talk badly, if you dress normally, they say you have lacked fashion sense and that you are struggling.

They ask for money thinking that everyone went home with the Sh5 million cash prize, and when you say you don’t have money, they start saying that you are proud.

All this affected my son and he was depressed for some time. He stopped attending school,events and social gatherings so that people wouldn’t see him.

But I encouraged him and prayed for him because I knew that he is talented and would still go far,” she says.

Covid-19 strategy

To date, Atieno recalls always checking up on his son and asking him whether he is performing at a public event. As soon as Juveh recovered, he went back to Tapev Music School.

Here, he learnt playing different instruments, how to behave on stage, writing and composing music, live band management, among others. 

 In 2011, the Permanent Presidential Music Commission (PPMC) chose him, Amelina, and Steve (TPF contestants), and two others from National Youth Talent Academy to represent Kenya and Africa in Ukraine at the “International Young Musicians Contest ‘CRIMEA fest’. 

“They won and were awarded Sh2.5 million. I was happy for him,” Atieno says. 

For now, with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has grounded artistes, the father of one has opened a studio, which has also been his dream.

“It’s what’s keeps him sane particularly at this time. Though, there’s still not enough work at the moment, he tells me he is learning new things and doing voice covers as well as radio and TV adverts,” she says.