“Isn’t it interesting how we can focus on one aspect of a person’s treasure?” That’s the thought that crossed my mind when interviewing Pitson, the ‘Lingala ya Yesu’ hitmaker. Pitson is also a renowned songwriter – having penned songs such as ‘Vanity’ by Daddy Owen and ‘Shule Yako‘ by Mercy Masika. The celebrated Kenyan gospel artist has more to offer than a lovely tune. He has picked up a lot of insights along the way.
Pitson shares with KenyanVibe what life experiences have taught him about money, fame, wealth and ministry.
If you could summarize your journey in just one word, what would it be
I’ve gone through ups and downs, challenges that did not make sense when I was going through them. Looking back now, I see how they helped shape the person I am becoming; The strenuous chapters have helped shape my character.
I’ve learned that sometimes God demonstrates his love by withholding. If certain things were released before we were ready, they would utterly crush us. They would bring out the worst rather than the best in us. So He waits while he molds.
What goes through your mind when you’re writing a song?
I like answering the question, “What are we saying?” I first identify the core message the song is meant to deliver, then work round that. I’m about concepts and speaking to those concepts. So, all the pieces I write centre around a theme and not rhymes.
What mistakes did you make as a novice minister or gospel artist in the limelight?
When I was working in the bank, getting KES. 250K in one sitting would have meant taking a loan. After releasing “Lingala ya Yesu” that was money I could easily make in one weekend. But I had not learnt the art of spending money wisely or building wealth. That season nearly destroyed me for 3 reasons:
- Lifestyle – Now I could afford to go to expensive barbershops or parlors if you will. A single session would cost close to KES. 5,000.
- Busy schedule – Sometimes, I would perform in 3 keshas in one night. Other times I would be hopping from one plane to another barely catching my breath. This meant that I was pouring myself out but had little to no time to refill. That is how burnout starts.
- Pride – There was a time in my life where I felt I was too good and people should recognize the fact. I brought that stardom attitude to my own home. God took me through a tough season to bring me back to the place of humility
I’ve learnt to cut down on meet-ups that don’t add value to my life.
God has used different situations to bring me to humility. Part of the humility process was the birthing of the Pitson Pen and Paper idea. He told me I was going to pen down hits which I would get little credit for.
What are your thoughts on gospel ministers incorporating worldly trends into their ministry?
The world cannot come to church and find the world. There has to be a clear demarcation. When one runs from worldly revelries, there is something their heart is looking for that they did not find out there.
The more the world becomes more corrupt, the more we must stand strong and be a reflection of what we believe. We should be more concerned about the impact the songs have in the church and on individuals than the number of hits we have on social media.
Your take on secular artists writing gospel songs…
How will a Kenyan write a better story about Belgium when he is not a native? How will a person living by the rules of the world understand what the core values of the church are? It takes an insider to understand how things work and why they work the way they do and the purpose thereof.
How many songs had you released before your first hit song?
I had recorded about 50 songs but had not done anything with them after recording. I did not understand how the world of music distribution works. Most of them were paid for by artists or producers for who I did background vocals. The first song that brought me into the limelight was, ‘Wanajua’ done in collaboration with Mwenyehaki.
What would you say was the most discouraging moment in your walk as a music minister?
I started doing background vocals for other artists when I was a student at JKUAT. During one of those sessions, the producer asked me if I could write my song and record. So I did. At around that time, a famous artiste went to that studio and heard my song. He reached out to me and asked if we could collaborate on that song. I said no, in part because I felt so small and didn’t understand what a big shot like him really wanted with my song. Secondly, because I felt like my presence in that song would be swallowed up by this huge personality. Of course, I could say that I was naïve, there was so much I did not understand.
To cut a long story short, a little while after that, I heard the song somewhere. Sung by that artist. Minus me. Same beat, Same lyrics save for a few twists. I was so heartbroken. But I learnt a valuable lesson, It important to be picky in choosing who you work with – people have live under very different values and convictions.
Why is registering a company important for a music minister? What is the advantage of that over just using your name as a brand?
There is money you will never touch as an individual but a company will. Systems will work well for you in being accountable especially with money.
How is music ministry post lockdown? Are the gigs back in full swing?
Not really but God is faithful, He has continually provided.
Have you ever gotten to a point of negotiating with God because things were tough?
Yes, like all the time. I like writing letters to God. I’ve noticed that he has the habit of reading them. He gives me answers to questions that weigh heavily on my heart. He’s been teaching me how I can make the best out of what I have – that it’s not in having more money that the job gets done but in trusting Him to show me how.
Don’t take shortcuts. There is so much joy in being rewarded for work you’ve done. Appreciate the process, wealth is not built in a day, it takes decades.
If you are going through a season of being auctioned, it’s okay. This too shall pass, go through it with head held high. If you’re challenged by sickness, this too shall pass and you will come out stronger. If you have to sleep on your mum’s couch for a season, it’s okay, if you have to move to a cheaper house, it’s okay. Allow yourself to go through tough seasons in peace. They will build something valuable in you if you let them.