I’m not trying to bring out your sensitive side or be a wuss.
I was recently enjoined, as I often am by well meaning people in an intense debate on social media about some musician who had allegedly said a secular artist was his role model.
I have no idea who the artist or the role model in question was.
Being one who admittedly doesn’t follow the local music scene too closely, this always is either a source of amusement or irritation to me.
I didn’t even know the Groove Awards (arguably Kenya’s biggest music award event) was on until I got the invitation card a day or two before the event!
What I am certain of is this: I’m missing real music. Where are the songs that make you want to soar? Where is inspiration?
Where are the people who will transport you in time with a melody so sweet it would make you cry?
The current award winning songs and artists are today steeped in technology and gimmickry that veils the mediocrity of our collective soul.
I have met a few whose voice or songs have moved me…but that’s my problem-there are so few.
We have several shows on TV & radio dedicated to Christian music and a plethora of commercial stations.
Why aren’t there more great songs?
I wonder if our singers (if you can call them that) would be able to do a concert for an audience of 1 or 2 or 3 people in a primary school without media attention.
Could we visit a sick patient with a guitar and bring some sunshine into that person’s life without seeking payment?
Now we have some serious problems here because: Most of our superstar musicians can’t play any instrument proficiently and once they are out of the highly synthetic studios and away from the cameras and make up…they’re just ordinary.
I know this because the world is looking for musicians who aren’t just trying to be rich or famous but who bring meaning to life.
Thank you for your swag.
Kudos for your lights and pyro technics.
Bravo to your over-the-top stage dancers with their acrobatic gyrations.
Hurrah for your super-slick music video.
But where is the soul?
How come all I get when I come to your show (and that is all it is nowadays-all a show).
I’m not speaking as or for Gospel artists alone.
I have been a musician for over 20 years and as the industry in Kenya has grown, I find that the musicality has shrunk.
It doesn’t matter whether I’m watching the local “gospel shows” or the “secular shows” on TV.
The end is now the same-I feel empty and uninspired by the slew of vitriol that is spewed out on us daily in the guise of entertainment.
During the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the ANC could depend on Miriam Makeba to represent them in their quest so much so that she had to live in exile.
Could this be said of our current crop of crooners?
Could they carry the essence of Kenya and not let her fall until we see the dawn of the new day as she did and saw the release of Nelson Mandela?
Fela Kuti would rankle the Nigerian government so much they’d arrest him for his radical views on oppression.
Bob Marley was at one point the flag bearer not just for the Jamaican nation but also one of the leading exports of his nation!
This is of course lost on our current generation historically and musically.
We don’t’ take the time to study history and learn from those who have gone before.
Most of the present celebrities disgorging puerile top ten swill, will be forgotten by this time next year and so will their music.
Not because they didn’t work hard at marketing or selling it.
Not because they were not TV savvy or financially incapable.
It will be because their music didn’t do anything for us as the audience.
I was in South Africa at a church in Johannesburg and at one evening service, and in walks Jonathan Butler with just his guitar.
No body guards, no entourage and almost no introduction.
He made us fly with his songs.
He made us worship.
And he also made us dance!
One man with his guitar!
When was the last time music made you cry?