After a shaky start, my graduation performance turned into an intimate, intense night for me, with an audience of family and friends. During the Kenyan National Anthem and Harry Kimani’s beautiful ‘Man from the ghetto’ I wondered if someone else had taken over control of my voice. I couldn’t find my ‘roots’ (sorry, that’s typical singer language) at all because of millions of nerves pumping through my veins. I started regaining my confidence when I sang my own song; Ukweli. I’m proud to have written that song with my student and friend Insect – he’s a great example and inspiration for Sauti Academy; I started teaching him piano and singing about 2 years ago. Sometimes I wanted to kick his ass, but most of the times I’m so happy and proud of him. He’s a survivor, sometimes I wonder how he does it but he just hangs in there, working hard towards a great future in music while continuously struggling. I recently introduced Insect to the program at St. Philips primary school in Mathare where he is now teaching rap.
Immediately after ‘Ukweli’ we continued with Valerie Kimani’s beautiful ‘Nguga II’, a Kikuyu ballad. This is when I noticed a girl who recognized the language and responded with a big smile. The only Kenyan in the audience… I really loved seeing her there, the feeling that at least one person could understand most of the lyrics made me feel great, the way she experienced the music – closed eyes, slowly bouncing her head to the beat – made me long for Kenya even more. People experience music so differently there. Her response gave me back my voice, which started working normally again from the minute I saw her, even my feet came back to earth.
The rest of the show went by so fast. “a blink of an eye, and it was gone” (Davy & Tukx). Talking about Angel was very difficult for me. When I tried, I stumbled into tears and Nienke (beloved friend and backing singer for my performance) took over. I dried my tears and felt stronger then ever; with Nienke and Meggy by my side we sang a special arrangement of Malaika which is the Kiswahili word for Angel (arrangement by Winnie Muriithi). Even though the lyrics of the song had nothing to do with Angel or with the situation, it was a magical moment with a lot of tears all over… When the last song started I realized the show was over, and it felt like it never even happened. It went by so fast!!!
After the show I went into a weird state of mind. It was like things weren’t really happening. People came up to me and I didn’t have enough time for anyone! When Johan came out to look for me to tell me the result my nerves were gone. I didn’t really care anymore what the commission had to say, because I was satisfied with the night. But… when they told me I had passed I did feel fantastic. The best thing was that I totally agreed with the feedback I got.
Today, the day after, it all feels so unreal. Yesterday was not an end for me, it was a beginning…
Thanks to everyone that attended my graduation concert; especially the band that helped me audition for the Rock Academy 5 years ago, my dad, sisters, friends and everyone else.
Thanks to everyone who contributed generously to my project. I have raised 350 euros for my project, which means Sauti Academy can continue workshops at St. Philips primary school until the end of this year.