Amani Gracious, aka Amani G, the 13-year-old singing sensation who was discovered in Nairobi's Githurai area, has released her maiden extended play record (EP) just a few months after having been signed by Pine Creek Records.
After singing with her sister, Pendo, on the song Asante, their father rose up to applaud them with tears running down his face, proud of what his girls had now become, the two girls fell into each other in a weepy embrace.
The scene, towards the end of the concert that marked her release of the EP at Alliance Française gardens recently, would have melted the hardest of hearts.
This has been quite the year for Amani G. Up until June, she could hardly be told apart from any other girl her age in her Githurai neighbourhood. Then a group of tourists offered her sweets and she decided to give them a sort of gift in return; sing to them the only way she could. And the rest is history, as they say.
After her video went viral, with no less than Alicia Keys, the artiste whose song Girl on Fire she performed, giving her accolades on social media, she was signed to Pine Creek Records for a deal worth Sh2.5 million over time.
Amani, straight from getting her KCPE results in exams she says were “more fair this time”, has been through quite a few interviews since she finished her primary school education in anticipation of the release of her EP My Reflections at 13.
Two months before sitting the national exams, she took a break from the whole showbiz scene.
However, she had already recorded the songs in the EP by then. The melodious youngster is poised to establish herself in the local music industry as a major player with Moji Short Babaa, Daddy Owen, Pitson and Timeless Noel having been part of the acts at the launch. Her performance also proved that she is more than just a recording artiste, but one who can put up a show which has performance and vocal presence that could entertain as well as evoke emotions.
After being signed up in July, she worked on recording the songs during weekends and shooting videos before she took a hiatus to focus on her primary school final exams.
“They gave me a list of songs. Days later, I had already known the eight songs that I was going to have on this EP. We just had to rework melodies and some of the words in the songs to suit me,” says Amani.
She already has three music videos out, including collaborations with Vivian and gospel songwriter and performing heavyweight, Pitson.
Her latest release "Ni Poa" features Pitson. Amani liked the song because it was mainly derived from the gospel of Luke that talks about how “cool” it is to have a friend like Jesus.
“I met Pitson in 2015, during a 'Kids Can Sing' competition though we didn’t interact much. It turned out Pitson writes some songs for my label and when we met at the studio, we just clicked,” remembers Amani.
Being new to the industry and at her young age, comes with some challenges. She has had to have adult supervision for her to go out and play. Being indoors a lot of the time makes her feel like she’s in jail.
“I don’t have freedom; I understand that it is for my safety but it doesn’t change how it feels,” says Amani.
Her family had to move nearer to her school after her elder brother was attacked at their house.
This happened soon after her contract was made public, the thugs thinking they had been given the amount in cash and at once.
She also had to vet who gets to be her friend because a lot of people are now friendly with her.
Even at her young age, Amani has quickly realised how her talent in music is turning out to be the avenue that could drastically better her life and that of her family.
“I am not perfect. I am still learning to balance my vocals and preserving my voice. Unfortunately, I also can’t eat sugary stuff now; I used to love Mr Berry before. I’m also taking a ginger concoction for my voice, which I don’t like. At some point, I would like to write my own songs so that I can share my own ideas with the world, in regards to God and his word, and possibly save a soul before I become old and my voice cracks,” she says.
She couldn’t sign off without acknowledging the talent of fellow 13-year-old break out star, Leyla Mohamed.
“I like her voice and how it brought out the message of what happened in our history. I see me in her, she’s really determined to make it with her talent. I’m going to meet her very soon, I can see it in my mind.”