BLOG: The Indicators of Kenyan Gospel Industry’s Growing Pains


‘Fanya’, a song by Willy Paul recently sparked a lot of negative reaction from the public. The young artist who greatly radicalized his image and type of music has caused a lot of discussions. His image particularly his ear studs and lyrics are being called into question. Critics have said that the line between gospel music and secular music in Kenya has become increasingly blurred citing Willy Paul as a perfect example. It seems some gospel artists have pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable by adopting an image that leaves many fans confused about their beliefs in the Christian values they sing.

In a class discussion, we were talking about the gospel music scene in Kenya. People in the class got really bitter and heated up about this issue. You could really tell how offended they felt as Christians by these songs. They say that the looks, lyrics, and beats by gospel artists have strayed far away from the path.

I find it amusing that just because these artists are trying new stuff is a reason to bash them every chance we get. According to Andrew Smith, human beings fear what they don’t know or understand, and hate what they can’t conquer. So on one hand; it’s understandable where the isolated negativity is coming from. But personally, I do not understand what the big deal is. We are in a world that is constantly changing and when we refuse to change, we risk stagnating at the same point.

There has been an evolution in the way we praise and worship is a reality. Many of us nowadays give offering via M-pesa or even credit cards. So let’s not be too rigid and blind to his choice of change. History books have clearly explained that because of evolution, things don’t remain static.

The gospel music scene in Kenya has come a really long way. If we remember clearly, a few years back, the only music that was popular especially among the youth was secular music. Gospel music did not get enough if any airplay. It was easier for a secular artist to get coverage on the entertainment pages or radio airplay than a gospel artiste. The only place a gospel artiste was assured of getting good airplay was in vernacular stations, which were then not cool enough for majority of the youth.

Since the mid-1990s, Kenyan music has experienced a radical transformation. The music of the older artists and their corresponding age groups has not gone away, but a whole new set of younger players has come on the scene and they’re moving in a much different direction.

We need representation of what Kenya has to offer as competition to the likes of West African music and others.My view; instead of comments such as “Kenya’s gospel scene is an insult to Christianity’ and such like-minded comments, these are really nice songs so let’s just take a moment to really appreciate their creativity. You might be surprised at the amazing messages they convey only in a bit different way than we are used to.

Article was written by Joy Kositany    [email protected],ke



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