Like in any other music sector, gospel scene experiences myriad of change
Just like in any other music sector, the gospel music scene usually experiences a myriad of changes. And as Chebet Korir writes, some of these transformations leave the fans with mouths agape, while others are just the force of nature.
The current gospel scene in Kenya has evolved, no doubt. Some gospel musicians, on the other hand, have been frequently accused of being controversial, diluting gospel music and releasing songs that are no longer viewed as noble or upright.
A few weeks ago, singer Bahati hit the headlines after releasing the remix to the song Wanani featuring secular acts Petra, Ssaru, Mejja, Odi wa Murang’a and Benzema.
The song, which currently has 1.3 million views on YouTube, received both positive and negative criticism from netizens.
Two weeks ago, Bahati followed it up with the release of Missing You that has so far amassed more than 500,000 YouTube views.
Bahati has in many instances been put to the sword, regarding his musical stand. He has, however, said he should never be judged, insisting that he is still a gospel artiste.
During a recent interview on a local TV station, he described himself as the best gospel artiste in Africa.
This sparked an online debate with several people arguing that gospel music has lost meaning and so have the artistes.
Gospel artiste-cum-pastor Anthony Kahura aka Mr T has continuously been lashing out the rot that is in the gospel scene.
“The gospel industry died a long time ago as many are currently focused on the profits.
Remember, profits and blessings can make you stop serving God and abandon the genuine ministry,” he intimates to Spice.
According to him, some ‘gospel musicians’ started as sincere artistes, but the money and fame changed them.
“The Lord will one day draw the line and the good and bad will be separated,” he says.
Celebrated gospel singer Mercy Masika opines that the society has chosen to give emphasis on the negative, forgetting the positive side of the gospel industry.
“I remember in 2000 when my musical journey began, a lot of musicians would do crazy things, but the bloggers and such were not quite publicising it. I am now seeing good things happening and we should keep it that way.”
Gospel deejays too have been accused of playing secular music in gospel gigs and on TV and radio shows.
Gospel reggae musician Elkanah Wangeci chose to call out deejays that have been infusing secular bits in their mixes.
In his recently-released song Too Many, he told born again deejays to watch what they play and listen to the message they play.
“Gospel music cannot be changed or sugarcoated. As a deejay you should reach out to people through positive music, the others are strictly entertainment.
Playing gospel music means you are a vessel or a carrier of the message in the music, just like a pastor on the pulpit,” he says.
For musician Mr Seed, he believes that gospel musicians are transitioning as God is preparing them for greater things in life.
“The industry has changed, but the cake is big enough for everyone. Let’s learn to embrace the new, as God is about to turn things around for the better, especially for gospel musicians” says Seed.
On his part, gospel artiste Danny Gift says musicians have “relaxed” and there is no balance between ministry and industry.
“The industry comes at a cost; production, fame and fan base that can make you forget the foundation which is the ministry.
We are living in an era where it’s rare to hear someone say that a gospel song has blessed them,” he says, adding that there is a disconnect in the music industry, but he is a believer that all is not lost.
D’man Mkare is the founder of Obinja TV—an online platform that concentrates on entertainment and lifestyle.
He says a majority of gospel musicians pretend to be followers of God while all they do is hide behind the gospel.
“The gospel scene is a scam and it’s a high time we expose those that are destroying it.
I am not saying that we do not have good gospel musicians, but we need to bring back to life real music; music that inspires and motivates,” says Mkare.
Some artistes quit on the gospel music citing it was too toxic. Recently, artiste Weezdom, who was signed under Bahati’s Eastlands Most Beloved (EMB) Records, announced via his social media pages that he had called time on his gospel music career.
“Gospel music has been doing well, but the artistes have made it to be criticised daily.
There is a lack of support amongst the artistes; they are scattered and most wouldn’t want to work together. It’s time musicians work as a family and grow together,” he tells Spice.
Hey Z says that people should learn to embrace the new because five years from now there will be a new crop of artistes, who will need the love for them to prosper.