Amani G's singing of Alicia Keys’ ‘Girl on fire’ was recorded by a stranger and was days later warming hearts on social media.
The most thrilling post of her would be by Alicia Keys. Buzz traced the 13-year-old to find out more.
What are your full names?
I am Amani Gracious, hence Amani G.
Which school do you go to?
I am at King Hill School in Githurai. I’m eyeing Starehe Girls’ High School after my KCPE at the end of the year.
How has the drastic shift from a normal pupil to an overnight celebrity been?
I don’t view myself as a celebrity while in school. I’m a pupil like everyone else and my mum’s little girl while at home acting out my chores normally.
Only the hype out here reminds me that I am celebrated more than I was before.
Your voice stunned the world, have you always wanted to do music?
Yes. Our entire family is talented musically which includes my grandmother, parents and siblings.
We, however, couldn’t afford to record music and put it out there. I tried a lot of auditions and competitions which didn’t work. I didn’t give up but rather trusted in God’s timing. It finally came in the most unexpected way.
Which competitions were these?
I only went as far as the auditions on “I Can Sing” but got to the semi-finals of “Kids Can Sing”. They didn’t deflate me but instead made me more resilient.
How did a stranger get to record the video of you singing?
I had not gone to school due to lack of school fees so I was just hanging out around home. I noted some kids receiving candy from some white visitors who had toured the area.
After giving me candy and the only gift I could give in return was my “God-given talent”, so I went on to sing “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys as one of them recorded.
She went on to post it on her social media and in 15 minutes it was buzzing with likes and heartening comments from different parts of the world.
No one in our house had a smartphone so we didn’t learn about this until three days later when a neighbour noticed the buzz and alerted my mum.
How did this change your life?
A few days later a team of several people drove into our school and asked to see me. They rolled out their interest in working with me as an artiste signed under their label, and today they are the people behind my brand.
My life and that of my family has changed to a point I had never imagined, which I highly attribute to that great team comprising Peter Nduati, Lenny Ngugi and my manager Damima Duffield.
What impact did Alicia Keys’ post of you have?
The person who posted my video was kind enough to gift my mum an android phone so that we could follow any upcoming story online. My brother was the first to notice Alicia Keys’ post and it gave me a facelift to become the star I’ve always wanted to become. The rest is history.
Do you look up to her?
She has a great vocal expertise and great discipline. She’s worth emulating.
Tell us about your debut release “Sitasahau”.
The song was written by Pitson. Thanks to his prowess in song writing, he got to comprehend my story first and what I wanted to put out there. He also shares the same kind of upbringing as me, which made it easy for him to fit in my shoes as well.
You’ve made lots of promises in “Sitasahau”, are they within reach?
Absolutely. I look forward to supporting everyone who will be in need of my help, within my capacity. My heart goes out to every street child and children growing up in the slums as well.
Talk about your new song with Vivian.
Vivian approached me and had already written the song. We then proceeded to studio. It’s about the life of a girl, empowered that she will certainly be realising her dreams due to God’s love that is always sure.
In the video you portray a child growing up in the ghetto. Was it the case for you in real life?
Yes, I have. It’s a tough place to grow in; you are exposed to a lot of social evils that, when not keen, can sway you.
My mum has, however, been a great sense of direction. My brother was also attacked after my video went viral by people who thought he had money after I had become a celebrity.
Describe your mum and the role she has played throughout your journey.
Mum has been so significant throughout my journey. For my auditions, mum and I commuted and walked for long distances from Githurai to Buruburu, where they were being held. She has always stood by me and I’ll continually attribute my success to her.
What are teachers’ comments on this new phase you just ushered in?
They find my achievements worthy of acclaim as they have always encouraged me to lead in song, both at Pastoral Programme of Instruction and during school events. They are proud of me since what they have been nurturing in me has taken root and is now bearing fruit.
Your favourite character in the Bible and why?
David. He went against all odds to overcome challenges and to do great exploits. He was a musician and his flair made room for him before Kings.
Future musical aspirations?
Before the year closes I will be launching an 8-track EP. I’m also looking forward to performing in Safaricom Twaweza. I would as well like to work with Size 8 and Mercy Masika, I really love their music.
Any other career you’d like to venture into after school?
Yes I’m interested in studying science after school.