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ONEXTRA: Elizabeth Kamau

Sunday January 20 2019

Elizabeth Kamau is a singer and songwriter.

Elizabeth Kamau is a singer and songwriter. PHOTO | COURTESY 

KAREN  MURIUKI
By KAREN MURIUKI
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A singer, songwriter and worship leader, Elizabeth Kamau was brave enough to risk pursuing her passion in music after being a pharmacist.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Kenya. I then went to England to study Pharmacy, which I did for four years. I became a pharmacist, but I also studied music part-time. I’ve always been crazy about music. It’s my life. I got a few equipment and started a little studio. This is when I got into music properly.

 

When did you realise you were gifted in singing?

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Honestly? When I was very little. Seven years old if I’m not wrong.

 

Is anyone in your family musical?

My younger brother Moses and I used to have singing competitions when we were children. (Laughs). We would listen and learn songs by Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey and then compete on who sang better in front of our family.

The younger ones would give us the brutal truth and say whenever someone sang poorly. (Laughs). But this made me want to improve myself. My brother also did a song, but it was more of letting out a pressure from within him. He’s never wanted to be a full-time singer.

 

How would you describe your music?

At the moment, it’s more Afro-fusion. I wouldn’t say I have found a style yet; I don’t know if I ever will. I do not like to limit myself, but I’m still on the journey of self-discovery.

 

What inspires you to write your songs?

So many things inspire me. It may be real-life experiences, because I go through some things and would only talk about it through music. There’s a way that singing makes me let the emotions out. Other times, I just get inspiration from anywhere. I could hear a beat I like and immediately start writing out lyrics. I also write whenever we’re in church and I feel a great connection from a worship session or a sermon.

 

Growing up, who would you say influenced your music?

As I said, we listened to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston a lot, but I got born again as I got older. People like Cece Winans, Tasha Cobbs, Hillsong, Cassie J and Kari Jobe influenced me then.

 

What motivates you to do music?

Honestly, the passion is just in me. Just yesterday, someone asked me when I’ll be working on another song, as if it’s a project. I can literally write a song on the go, and when I need to, but it all depends. Some songs have taken me months and even years to finish. I don’t need something to drive me to make music; it comes naturally for me.

 

What’s music to you?

It’s the language of the soul. The heartbeat of the world. I think things would be bad in the world without music. People would be very depressed. You may have had a depressing day and your spirit and the weight on your shoulder starts getting lifted just as soon as you listen to a certain song. Music is such a powerful thing.

 

What’s the greatest achievement you’ve had in your music career so far?

It was more of an honour performing during a Jamhuri Day event in London. It was a very intimate affair, with the High Commissioner and a few British people in government. I celebrate the little wins day by day, even if it means going for a TV interview. This is because music was a risk I took to follow my passion, having been a pharmacist for a while.

 

What challenges do you face?

The Kenyan music industry is not structured. There’s no clear path and you wouldn’t know where to start, which can be very daunting. Without help or guidance, even a super-talented artiste can get forgotten, and that’s a shame. I think this is why other countries set up platforms like talent competitions; they realise there are some genuinely talented singers out there who do not know who to go to. I personally have not completely figured the industry out, and so far, it’s been by the grace of God.

 

Where would you say you’re headed as an artiste?

I’m on a journey of discovery.

 

Do you think you could get better as an artiste?

100 per cent.

 

How so?

I still listen to people online. Hearing other talents is refreshing, and I always think about different things I could incorporate in my music from them. In music, more skills and technique is equivalent to an artiste with more colour ranges and more paint brushes. It means that you can be more expressive. So yes, I have a lot of growing to do.

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