Often times when we see people excelling in a craft they are naturally gifted at, we are drawn to their gift because of how effortless and glorious they make it seem. Evelyn Wanjiru is one such Kenyan gospel singer. But the worship leader, music director, songwriter, and co-founder of Bwenieve production has a story to tell. Hers has not been a tale of overnight success. She is best known for her hit songs “Mungu Mkuu”, “Celebrate”, “Jehovah Elohim”, “Waweza,” “Hossana,” “Nikufahamu” and “Tulia.”
What do you think about the gospel scene in Kenya?
From where I sit, it is doing very well. We are giving it our best, everyone is trying to look at how they can grow and reach an audience beyond our country. As far as effectiveness is concerned, we are yet to embrace live music in Kenya. I think that’s the one area we really need to grow in. There is always better reception performing live in other countries but I can definitely say that I am seeing change so far, some good kind of change. As far as growth is concerned, I would say that making revenue through music ringtones has gone a long way in helping us produce our music and have a source of sustenance. Things are definitely much better than they were a couple of years ago.
What do you love the most about your calling?
That I get to bless people with my gift and that I get to do something that I thoroughly enjoy
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you?
Wah! It affected me big time. I had started getting to a place of inner exhaustion, wondering what would happen next. Most of our events were cancelled. They were so many. I wasn’t sure how to handle that drastic change of events but I told God that he had to give me mind-blowing ideas during the lockdown period so that the period would not be wasted. And he did just that, I spent a good chunk of that time at home planning on how to do better things in a greater way. All things do indeed work together for good if we let God show us the way.
What are you most grateful for in life?
An opportunity to make an impact through my style of music – to bless many with this gift
What is that one thing you would tell someone looking to build a career in music especially in the gospel space?
It’s not an easy place to be because it comes with a lot of challenges, positive and negative. Understanding that this is a ministry you are starting is crucial. With that comes a lot of things to surmount. Get ready for oppositions but also prepare yourself for lifting.
The other important thing to note is the importance of building a character of integrity. Good character will keep you moving upwards and maintaining. Have a vision and a mission; know and jot down why you are doing what you doing and where you want to go with it.
There were so many times in my journey when I felt like giving up. I’m so glad that I did not.
What is the ultimate vision you have for your ministry?
There is still room for so much growth. Until the world has heard this voice there is still room, ama? Haha. But seriously, I am reaching for the globe.
What challenges did you face as a novice gospel musician?
- Getting places to minister
- Getting people who can help me understand the marketplace
What’s the secret to remaining relevant
Prayer and having mentors you look up to. Having people who can rebuke you in love and correct you when you’re missing the mark is extremely important.
And who are some of your role models?
Wah! I have many. My husband, Eunice Njeri, My Pastor, these top that list but I also have people I look up to that I am not necessarily close to. I observe how they live their lives, handle their families, minister in their area of gifting and learn from them.
What’s the inspiration behind your latest song ‘everlasting’?
With the unexpected changes that came this year, everyone was calling on the name Jesus. The world has changed but God remains constant and never-changing. The song explores the different names used by different people groups to call on God.
How do you balance between fulfilling your vision and serving your husband’s vision?
As a wife, it is so crucial for one to know their place, the moment this is in place, the rest will come easy.
For one to pursue their God-given calling, it takes the hand of God. All of us have been called – we’ve been called differently. Understanding how to relate to each other in our differences has been crucial. There are times he feels like he needs space to breathe, sometimes I feel the same because we are human and we are both working at excelling at whatever God had equipped us to be good at. That said, at the end of the day, family comes first for me.
When you look back what do you see?
When I look back I am grateful that I never gave up despite the numerous challenges I had to surmount. When I see the matatus I used to hawk to, I am overwhelmed at God’s ability to transform. Since I barely got any opportunities to minister in churches, I would hawk my CDs in matatus. I would strategically sit next to the driver so that I could request him to play my music. Most were kind enough to accept my request. When I listen to the music I composed at that time, I am amazed that it can still minister to me. It is so important to write something that transcends time. I am glad I invested in producing something that was of good quality even when I had meager resources.
All the pain I went through, from losing my father in 2006 to living in the ghetto. Everything has helped to shape the person I am and the ministry in me. Without it, I don’t think I would have something tangible to tell people.
How have you managed to remain focused?
By not allowing fame to get to my head; humility is such a great asset in keeping the vision alive.
What has your husband’s input meant to you?
His support has meant a lot to me. I see a very humble man, he is that one person putting in so much work to see me do well and not feeling intimidated that the wife is succeeding.
We are in a season when we are supposed to be sitting at the feet of the master. Don’t forget who is in the boat with you.