TRENDSETTER

Are Christian tunes bringing out the reverent in secular artistes?

There is no escape for ambitious artistes like releasing religious tunes

In Summary

• Whether it’s tapping into spirituality or relevance, their greatest responsibility is to keep their audiences entertained

Bobby Mapesa
Bobby Mapesa
Image: Courtesy

Considering the influence that gospel music has had on the local scene, secular artistes have been making serious attempts to connect with the masses. We’ve seen them make Christian-themed music revolving around topics like love, prayer, redemption and appreciation.

Some secular artistes have tapped into the Christian market, while others have been shunned due to their past identity.

The reverse is also true: For some reason, we are starting to see more and more artistes who’ve built their musical careers as gospel artistes moving to the secular scene, perhaps to reach new markets as well.

 

Unlike secular artistes, this shift presents controversial situations and moments for gospel artistes because it’s expected of them to maintain and exist in certain accepted standards. 

For secular, it’s through adopting gospel music that some important and essential pieces have made it, and will continue to make, into the airwaves. The fact that secular artistes have an audience that they already serve with endless worldly hits, they tap into a new clientele as well as keep the already existing one every time they switch to a Christian-themed song. 

In 2016, the explicitly deviant rapper Bobby Mapesa released a track, “Nisamehe”, which was expected to be the lead single to the much-awaited gospel album “Mtoi Wa Mungu,” which is still yet to be released.

Those familiar with Mapesa’s past dirty lyricism and smutty proclivity must have been taken aback by this move, but he best understood his reality best and knew what he was up to.

The pressure to appeal to various audiences can be quite stupendous, and, therefore, could be a reason why acts like King Kaka, Blinky Bill, Kagwe Mungai and Sauti Sol have all done a gospel-inflected tune on their recent albums. One of Nyashinski’s comeback hits, “Mungu Pekee”, adopted this direction and ended up being big. All these artistes have included these works to their catalogues and have, without a doubt, emerged victorious, with some of the tunes becoming outright anthems. 

In music, especially in the secular world, an artiste has the absolute freedom to create and be. There could be varied reasons as to why artistes venture into this direction.

Whether it’s tapping into spirituality, the relevance or the plays, their greatest responsibility is to keep their audiences entertained. It’s starting to appear like there is no better escape for ambitious artistes than releasing religious tunes, which will luckily get unlimited airplay across platforms. 

 

For some, it’s a strategy to tap into markets, while it might be an opportunity to take a deep dive into the creative process and make music that highlights their experiences for others.

If it flatters, every artiste understands what drives them and, therefore, if the music falters, it’s on them. They will have to deal with it.