When Bahati Kevin, 19, recorded his first song, Siku ya Kwanza, a year ago, he felt as if his world had crumbled.
He had initially thought that the biggest job in music was writing and singing songs. Little did he realise that there were many other challenges ahead that needed to be faced wisely and with a lot of effort.
“I thought it was going to be easy for me to be declared a star after performing my song in several shows. Things were different. I had to continue working hard to get the song recorded and also get enough publicity.
“The challenges were enormous and almost broke me. However, I prayed hard for God to help me. Music was the only way out of the hard life I was living. So, it was do-or-die for me. Being an orphan without relatives to rely on for my daily upkeep was a major challenge as I tried to excel in my career.”
Kevin was brought up in ABC, an orphanage in the Mathare slums, after he lost his parents. He says he felt that instead of going to the streets to sniff glue, snatch handbags, and smoke bhang, he would rather go to a children’s home to get shelter and an education. And that is exactly what he did when he was only seven years old.
The home sponsored him to Mercury Academy, where he sat for his KCPE exams. He then joined Nakeel High School, Kajiado, but dropped out when his sponsor could no longer pay his fees.
“I nearly went to the streets, but I was offered a place at St Theresa’s Boys Eastleigh, where I continued with my secondary education until I completed in 2011 and managed to get a C+ grade.
It was hard for me because I depended entirely on friends and good Samaritans,” Bahati says.
Asked how his talent was discovered, he said:
“It was at the 2011 National Music Festival when I played and sang, much to the amazement of both my teachers and fellow students. That gave me a lot of confidence and I started honing my talent.”
As soon as he left high school, he recorded his first song, Siku ya Kwanza, which talks about the day he got saved.
“The audio was done by J. Blessing while the video was the work of L.B. Films,” he explains.
His music was received well and is, to date, being requested by fans on radio and TV programmes such as Tukuza (KTN), Kubamba (Citizen), Cross Over 101 (NTV), and Replay Show (System Unit).
His latest song, Wangu, talks about many friends who disappointed him and how he found a new one in Jesus. He did his second song jointly with Mr Seed, another big name on the gospel music scene.
He is currently working on his third song to be released soon.
Bahati intends to exploit his talent to the fullest so that he is able to give Kenyans and East Africans in general good music.
He would like to go to college to study radio production and music.
He aspires to reach the levels of Juliani, Daddy Owen, Jimmy Gait, and Kirk Franklin.
BAHATI – MAMA (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Bahati & Mr. Seed – Wangu (Official Video)
Bahati – Siku Ya Kwanza (Official Video)
Interview by SDE
Your latest release Mama, made its debut just before Mother’s Day consequently amassing massive airplay. Was the timing a strategy?
Bahati: No! Although it may seem so, the truth is that we had production hitches and the Mama video took two weeks longer than its expected release date. When we finally let it out, Mother’s Day coincidentally fell on that week and fortunately, the song amassed a lot of airplay.
P: Upon being nominated in the Groove New Artiste of the Year award category, what song do you feel put you up for the challenge?
B: With three songs out already, I believe my latest single Mama and Wangu featuring Mr Seed. They put me in the limelight, granted me platforms to showcase my music and stood me a chance in the category as well.
P: Who do you suppose is your greatest competitor in the category?
B: Besides feeling confident in myself, I have to admit that Denno, famed for the song Mbona is quite a task. He has been in the industry for some time and his Mbona song, featuring Daddy Owen, was quite a hit.
P: How long have you been in the industry?
B: Having recently completed my secondary education and at 19 years of age, I have only been in the industry for eight months, and the hassle has been quite rough. I am glad fans are appreciating my efforts though.
P: Besides Wangu and Mama, what other music projects have you penned so far?
B: My first song was Siku ya Kwanza, a prelude of my life in Christ. I then did the runway hit Wangu, which told of my journey and challenges. Mama, which is a dedication to my late mother who passed on when I was six, is my latest work.
P: Your collaboration with Mr Seed in Wangu thrust you into the limelight. Can we say that he steered your musical career?
B: No! Wangu was my own composition and the only new thing Seed brought to the table was an Afro-fusion twist. I had everything well planned out, so I settled on him only because I wanted to incorporate something new into my music.
P: If that is the case, why does he always accompany you to most of your media interviews?
B: Since releasing the song, we have grown quite close because we had to promote the song, and do concerts together as part of business. Most of the interviews I was called for were out of Wangu’s success and I wanted Mr Seed to feel part of the song and its success as well.
P: In an industry with diverse genres, what is your style of music and how do you intend to cut your niche?
B: I currently do gospel bongo but that does not limit me to one genre. I hope to diversify and incorporate different musical aspects like acoustic, zouk and Afro-fusion in my future music.
P: But gospel bongo seems over-rated with many artistes tending towards it. That does not help you cut a niche, or does it?
B: At first you have to capture the market’s attention and as it is now, people seem to be in love with gospel bongo; so I chose to kick off my career with it. Once I am well established, I will fuse genres like I did in Wangu then shift gears to other genres of music. Hopefully, my fans will stick by me even then.
P: Tell us about your background in music.
B: I grew up singing in Sunday school. In high school, I joined the music club and even won an award during the annual Secondary Schools Music Festival finals.
P: As an orphan with many financial handles, where did you get the cash to record music?
B: After high school, teachers and friends encouraged me to take up music but since I was broke and orphaned, I resolved to go back and make music in church where I then solicited for funds and released my first song Siku ya Kwanza.
P: What makes you stand out in this gospel music boom?
B: Unlike many upcoming artistes who have specific targets and genres, I am slowly carving out my niche as a cross-ranged artiste. My music is not confined to a particular age group or genre, and I believe this will be my golden ticket to uniqueness.