Where are They Now? Hustles Of Gospel Artists Who Disappeared From The Ministry

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Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
From left: Sarah K, Esther Wahome, Jemimah Thiong'o.

Talent brings many to the field but time determines who stays in the league. Many superstars rose to fame in the service and ministry of the gospel but different factors eliminated most of them from the scene.

For those who are old enough, the Jemimah Thiong’os, Rufftones, Esther Wahome, among others, set the tone for Kenya’s gospel industry. They established dominance in the local airwaves and you could not miss hearing the song in a matatu, the neighbour’s house, your favourite local babershop, and even entertainment joints.

However, with time, some of these artists have moved from the industry leaving us in the hands of the likes of the ‘new gospel artist’ generation that has since come under criticism for their dedication to the industry.

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Here are some of the pioneer gospel musicians that rocked the airwaves but have since maintained a low profile or moved on to pursue other things.

Mary Atieno

A teacher and a pioneer of the gospel music industry, Mary Atieno rose to fame with her Adamu na Eva” song. The track was a major hit and dominated airwaves for over three decades.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
Mary Atieno/Courtesy

Despite becoming blind shortly after she was born, Mary remained undeterred from her ambition to serve God and others. She released songs that blessed many and dominated the gospel scene.

She performed for President Daniel Moi on a number of occasions and also blessed several other major national events with her talent.

After a long illustrious career, she retired to serving her Lord through ministry in churches, foundations and charities.

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Jimmy Gait

The mention of his name would get people excited especially the youth with sufficient momentum to dance to all his hit songs including “Huratiti”, “FuriFuri” “Appointment” and  “Kuna Day“.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
Photo|Jimmy Gait|Facebook

The celebrated musician was one of a kind, blessing Kenya’s airwaves one song at a time. Jimmy Gait is a multiple award winner and earns his spot in the list of Kenya’s top gospel artists.

However, at one point, he was victim of cyber bullying from members of the public due to the unique but common titles of his songs, which put him at the top of social media trends whenever a new slang emerged.

Gait has since maintained a low profile, but continues to mentor upcoming artists through various intiatives.

Jemimah Thiongo.

Winning the groove awards as songwriter of the year, indeed Jemimah was a blessing to many. Some of her greatest hit songs are “Akisema Atakubariki”, Pen do la Ajabu” and “Alinitua”.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
Jemimah Thiong’o/ Courtesy

She emerged in the gospel industry in the early 2000s Jemimah and went on to make a name for herself as one of the pioneer artists of the industry. Among the younger generation of artists, she has gained the fond title of ‘mum’. She’s easily one of the most respected Gospel acts this side of the Sahara and boasts a major cross-over appeal. Refreshingly sincere and down to earth, Jemimah leaves one with a lasting impression and exudes the simplicity of one who knows who they are – an incredible woman of God.

However, she has since maintained a low profile to focus on her businesses and also runs various charities.

an avid businesswoman and farmer, and has kept her agricultural endeavours running. She says of the reason for this, and her experiences: “I have to keep farming. I want that woman in the village who’s faithfully looking after her cow and depending on it for sustenance to know that it works. To be encouraged to hold on…I believe God had me go and live in the village for most of my life so that I could identify with that village woman…identify with her problems, her concerns, and be able to talk about His faithfulness.”

4. Sarah K

The “Mnyunyuzi wangu “, “Nasema asante”, “Niinue” and “Usiyeshindwa hitmaker Sarah Katherine  Njeri Mwangi well known as Sarah K is one of the greatest gospel artists in the country.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
Sarah K/Courtesy

The award-winning blessed the industry with hit after hit but has since gone silent leaving some of us who were dear fans, speculating.

The 51-year old has since retreated to preaching in churches, mentoring upcoming artists and charity work.

5. Ben Githae

He is arguably one of the most popular gospel musicians in the country. He was mostly known for releasing Kikuyu hit songs such as”Maya ni Mabataro“, but also boasts a number of Swahili songs including “Tabia Mbaya, and Timiza Maono” among others.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
Ben Githae Was Well Known For His ‘Tano Tena’ Hit Single Photo/Nairobiwire

Githae later took a ‘detour’ and has since released campaign songs for President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto in 2013 and 2017. He is also a mobilised for the Azimio la Umoja coalition that is led by ODM leader Raila Odinga.

6. Eko Dydda

His style of rap introduced a new trend in the gospel industry prompting upcoming artists and fans to try and imititate him. The Me and My house” hitmaker has released a number of songs which won him multiple awards.

Though he still produces music, Eko Dydda has kept a low profile but continues to inspire upcoming artists through mentorships, financing studio time and giving collaborations.

He also runs charities that support underprivileged children residing in Kenya’s informal settlements.

Rufftone

The “Mwikhulu” hitmaker brought ragga to the gospel scene and boy did he rise to be one of the greatest of all time. Rufftone has won multiple awards in the course of his career and is considered a legend in the game, mentoring and paving way for many of the country’s top gospel artists including Ringtone.

When he dropped the song, “Mungu Baba” featuring officers from the General Service Unit (GSU), the hit became a national anthem, and a prayer song in many churches across the country and the region.

Since going slow on his music career, the pioneer artist ventured into politics. He is a member of the United Democratic Alliance Party (UDA) and sought to contest the Nairobi Senate seat before dropping his bid to back Bishop Margaret Wanjiru.

Rufftone is part of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance campaign team in Nairobi.

M O G

This group brought a different tune to the gospel industry and endeared themselves to the younger generation. Their songs became major hits and they went on to win multiple awards as a group.

Paul “Boss” Onyango, Tony, and Kennedy “Kenti” Kimani, founders of the group, rose to fame with hits songs such as Zing Zing and Tempted.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
M.O.G/Courtesy

However, Tony would later leave the group for personal reasons. At the time, he was pursuing his studies at St. Paul’s University and also running his business.

The group has remained silent for while and is yet to drop another song despite revealing that they are still intact during an interview with a local daily a while back.

Daddy Owen.

The King of Kapungala as often referred to as, blessed the industry with hit after hit. With more than several hit songs including Tobina”, “Wewe ni Mungu”, “Kiriru”, “Kazi ya msalaba”, “Mbona Mbona”, Tobina and Vanity”, the sensational gospel artist is an inspiration to many and a major contributor to the growth of the gospel industry in Kenya.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
File image of award-winning gospel artist Daddy Owen. |Photo| Courtesy|

While many of us expected Daddy Owen to keep going, he has since stayed away from the limelight but continues to inspire younger talents through empowerment programmes in various parts of the country.

Danco

Many may not remember him, especially the millenials but he was the master behind the Tobina song with Daddy Owen. However, the veteran musician has kept a low profile and since moved on from the industry to focus on personal businesses and activities.

Maximum Melodies

This group of musicians was pure talent. The band released hit songs that were and are still a blessing to many like ” Hakuna Mungu Kama wewe”,  “Mwamba Remix” and” Ametenda”.

The group was led by Andrew Muiru, son to renowned televangelist, Pastor Pius Muiru of the Maximum Miracles Centre.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
Maximum Melodies/ Courtesy

The group has since moved on to pursue other careers but a remnant still performs during church functions and services.

Andrew is the CEO and managing director of Nuru TV which is owned by the Maximum Miracles church.

Esther Wahome

In 2004, her album Yahweh, which spawned the hit song “Kuna Dawa”, is considered as one of the highest-selling all time, having sold over a million copies.

That year, she won Best Female Artist and Song of The Year for Kuna Dawa at the Groove Awards.

“I never expected Kuna Dawa to hit the way it did. Immediately after releasing it in 2009, I went to United Kingdom and my husband called and said the song had become a regional anthem,” she stated in a previous interview.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
Esther Wahome/ Courtesy

In 2013 and 2014, she went on to release her singles Furahia and Daktari before she released a number of songs in Kikuyu.

However, she took a break from her musical career to take care of her family and specifically, her son who was battling autism.

The renowned musician made a comeback in 2019 when she released hits such as Yahweh, Shakinah Glory, Minyororo and Asali. Unfortunately, just as her career was taking shape again, Covid-19 happened. At the time, her 2020 was fully booked with clients internationally.

She had toured the Democratic Republic of Congo in January and headed to Europe in February where she was to stage concerts in different countries.

“I had been doing my Ministry all over the world until Covid-19 hit the country. In fact, when the pandemic began, I was almost locked down in Europe,” she revealed.

Wahome returned to Kenya in 2020 and has been participating in church service, specifically preaching to different congregants.

In 2021, she released a song called Yesu Anabobea.

“My songs are like my children, they have different potentials and blessed differently,” she stated.

Lydia of The Mwauras

The Mwauras began their singing career in 1988 soon after their wedding. Lydia resigned as a teacher in 1999 to focus solely on music with her husband, who also resigned in 2002, and together, they went on to bless the gospel industry with amazing songs.

Lydiah went on to release the following songs; Ni Nani Kama Wewe, Mwamba Wangu ni Yesu and Bwana Ameniona, among others.

Where are They Now? Kenya's Pioneer Gospel Musicians
The Mwauras/Courtesy

Their songs became go-to tracks for praise and worship in many churches and opened up the doors for many of today’s generation courtesy of their pioneering work.

After 20 years of dominance, the couple has since maintained a low profile.

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