Most people love her for her vocal prowess and music that transcends all age groups. Gospel artiste Alice Kimanzi shares with GEORGE D. MWENDWA about her journey, family and her album that is scheduled to be launched soon.
You were known as Aliquim before, what made you change your identity?
I used the name Aliquim as a stage name when I first started out – Aliquim of Gydkym Music kind of rhymed. But I got the most interesting pronunciations when being introduced on stage by an emcee. So to make things easier I just decided to go by my name.
Where did your music journey begin?
I started singing with my three older sisters while in nursery school. They taught me how to harmonise and sing on key. I also grew up in Nairobi Baptist, participating in all the junior choir and teens concerts then. Fun fact, after high school I participated in a talent search. That is how I recorded my first song and got to meet my husband/producer.
How would you describe your kind of music?
It is inspirational and uplifting. Together with my husband, we try to write music that can be sung in church. This was our main drive with my second album Yahweh, and we will keep it that way.
Which song would you term as your breakthrough?
This was definitely my cover of “Let Praises Rise”. Each time the worship team at church sang this song, it would stay with me all week. My husband suggested that we work on a cover, upload it and create content for my YouTube channel. To date I’m still surprised at how much love and support I got from it.
Your comments on the ongoing uproar on gospel artistes not singing Christ enough?
There’s still plenty of hope. I believe there are gospel artistes/bands that are still on the straight and narrow, creating wholesome music. Also, there are a lot of upcoming stars who are incredibly gifted and it’s our job to hold their hands and keep them accountable.
Is music your full time venture?
Yes, it is.
You will be launching an album soon. What should we expect?
Yes, I will be live in concert on November 18 at International Christian Centre West from 3pm. I have prepared a three-hour set, which majorly consists of songs from my new album. However, there will be a few songs I’ve done previously. I’ll be sharing the stage with people who I not only admire as musicians in their own right, but have also become my dear friends like Highest Praise Band, Daniel Chikwaza, Eve Bahati and my little sister Laura Karwirwa.
Are you mentoring any artistes?
I’d started to but I lost momentum along the way. It’s still something that tugs heavy on my heart. Mentorship calls for time and vulnerability from both parties. To some extent I do this for the youth at my church. I do my best to be available to them and give feedback on their song writing and live performances.
How do you balance family and a demanding musical career?
I’m truly blessed to be married to a very understanding man. He recognises the demands that come with the industry. Many times we’ve had to pass by “mama chips” because I’ve either been rehearsing all evening or I got home super tired from a gig. He, being a producer, helps because he pushes me to do better.
Given an opportunity what would you change in the Kenyan music industry?
I would start a campaign to increase the percentage artistes get from ring back tones.
What challenges have you faced so far?
The biggest would be myself. I’m such an introvert, I don’t work very well with crowds. So I have to fight to stand on a stage to minister. Another is allergies that tend to interfere with my vocal health; but I’m grateful for this because I’ve learnt to depend on God’s grace.
Are there mistakes you made in the past that you'd advise budding artistes to refrain from?
Don’t sell yourself short. Monetary negotiations are an uphill task for me. Time and again I have put myself in situations that are quite demanding but with meagre returns. So getting a manager to do that for me set me free. If music is your bread and butter, you need know how to negotiate or to get someone to do that for you.
What's your secret for remaining consistent and relevant?
First of all, I base my song writing on scripture which is in itself relevant, consistent and timeless. Secondly, I sat down one day to watch live services from all the churches I could find on Facebook and I realised that we are all singing the same songs. So I determined to fill that gap and add to the pool of songs they can pick from.