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Why the Kenyan contemporary gospel scene is struggling

April 22, 2020 at 17:26
Why the Kenyan contemporary gospel scene is struggling

The Kenyan contemporary gospel scene was once the most vibrant and active aspect of Kenyan entertainment. Its members were responsible for keeping the Kenyan sound alive and they would churn out hit after hit. This was seen in the fact that all aspiring artists, be they crooners, dancehall artists or even rappers, all of them without exception wanted to be gospel artists.
A case in point for this argument would be Boondocks Gang who first started out as gospel artists before finding their sound and deciding to embark on a Gengeton career.

So where did the rain start beating the gospel fraternity?

For starters, the lack of mentorship did not ensure that the baton was successfully passed on. DJ Mo and Size 8 did their part in trying to pass on the baton. We would see them mentor the young gospel artists but that was not enough. Sure they mentored Bahati and reached out to other artists such as Masterpiece but beyond that, most gospel artists at the zenith of their careers 3 years ago viewed the new generation as upstarts; pretenders to their throne. And so they addressed them as unworthy competition rather than brothers and sisters in Christ.

Former gospel star Willy Paul

Willy Paul

An affinity for the secular world. This means that most young gospel artists were at a crossroad. They wanted to be cool but they still wanted to get into the ministry. With no one to guide them through this crisis of faith, they veered more and more into the secular world. When you look at acts like Willy Paul, it was clear for all to see his struggles. But rather than reaching out to him, most pastors berated him and used him as a negative role model for the youth in their flock.

Why is the Kenyan gospel industry such a mess?

Scandals rocked the gospel scene from the head down to the tail. Pastors like Ng’ang’a were constantly embroiled in one scandal or another. The choirmasters were the same as were the flock. So young kids growing up in the church were put off by what they saw. The rule given to them was, “Rules for thee, none for me!” and they rebelled against this hypocrisy.

Are Kenyan gospel musicians asleep?

Lack of embracing new ideas has always been something that has pitted the church at odds with the youth. No, here we are not addressing embracing ideas explicitly banned by the Bible but rather ideas of fashion, song genres and ultimately language. Police a man’s language and you police his thoughts. Embrace and guide his language and you embrace and guide his thoughts. Kids also want to be cool. And fashion is an outward expression of this. As for genres, Gengeton could very well have been an offshoot of urban gospel.

Of course, there were some factors outside of the church and gospel fraternity’s control but what they chose to ignore ultimately undid the gospel music dominance in Kenya.


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