Neema Imbayi: I give praise and worship to God through my music
Neema Imbayi is an assistant librarian at the University Library. She is also a gospel musician.
What is your background?
I am the last born in a family of seven. I did my undergraduate in Bachelor of Library and Information Science (BLIS) at Kenyatta University (KU) and Bachelor of Divinity (BDiv) from the Holy Ghost Missions Bible College (HGMBC), Kenya. I am still pursuing a Master’s of Science in Information and Knowledge Management (MSc IKM) from the Technical University of Kenya.
When did you start the music journey?
Music is very wide. I began singing in Sunday school when I was still young. I joined the Christian Union in high school and I actively participated in praise and worship. When I joined campus, I enjoyed singing a lot although I never thought of making my own music; besides, I could not write my own songs. In the third year of studies at KU, I got exposed to the world of music-making while in the Christina Union and I wrote my first song. In 2015, my final year in campus, I decided to head to the studio to record my first song. I have been singing all along in the church.
I knew four producers who helped me in producing specific genres of songs. I am already working on my second music album.
What is your music about?
I give praise and worship to God through my music. The dominant message from the songs is hope. Most of the songs that I have done cover a great deal of real life experiences, some of which I have gone through and some are general experiences.
What challenges do you face in the music industry?
Firstly, securing funds to help facilitate the process of making music. When I started making music in campus, I could not afford to cater for the production costs mainly because I was still a student. I reached out to a few friends so as to share the idea with them; they were really excited but when I asked them for support, most of them backed off.
I hail from a humble background that could not fully support my passion for music. I had to find my way around the fact that I could not afford paying for the production of my music. Therefore, I decided to sell jewelries, popcorns and groundnuts to my fellow students in class and other friends. I also took photos of people and charged them at a fee in order to sustain myself. These small businesses mainly catered for the production of the audios to my songs.
Secondly, marketing my songs is a hassle. Whenever one makes music, it belongs to the people. How do you reach out to the people themselves for them to consume your content? Marketing also needs money in order to run. I have reached out to several media stations with the aim of airing my songs; few stations offer me the opportunity but most of them ask for money so as to play one’s music. Most established musicians employ sales and marketing agents but upcoming artists like me find it very difficult to go to such extremes.
Who is your role model?
I have two role models in the gospel music industry. One is Florence Mureithi, a fellow gospel musician, whose existence in the industry means a lot to me. We regularly communicate as she guides me even before I head to the studio to record a song.
Maranda Curtis is the other gospel musician who really inspires me to do gospel music. She is good at what she does in the gospel industry.
Where do you draw your motivation from?
The faithfulness of God in my life is the biggest motivation hence I always find myself giving back to Him through music. I have also had a Christian upbringing. My father composes music although he does not record his songs and he is a gifted choir director. My grandfather also used to compose music. My parents instilled in us a tradition of singing since we were young. We would sing before going to bed. This led to my passion for music.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
My big dream is to have live concerts that is all about a great worship experience. I am already working on the dream. I also believe that I will not remain in the industry forever; therefore, I see myself mentoring a group of young gospel artists as a way of giving back; besides I also have a mentor. The Bible also reads, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” (Luke 12:48b)
What is your greatest achievement?
I would consider landing safely in the music industry as well as the positive response that I get from those whose souls I have touched with my music my greatest achievement. I am also proud of my pace in the industry.
What would you advise young aspiring students with burning dreams?
Trust in God entirely. Keep the dream and hope alive. Leverage on the available opportunities that help keep your dream alive then learn to place your priorities right.
This article was written by Odhiambo Obonyo
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