Gospel music is slowly dying and Gengetone is the reason why

Image: Controversial gospel artistes, Ringtone Apoko (left) and Willy Paul (right)

Gospel music for a long time was the genre artists had to embrace if their aim was making money. That is because for a majority of the history of our local entertainment scene, it was only injili music that was widely embraced as every Kenyan sought to signal just how virtuous they are and show off just how moral they are.

Bahati playing chess while gospel artists are playing checkers

As a result, politicians would invite injili artists to perform at their rallies, churches supported their own and whenever a company needed to organize a roadshow, gospel music was what they chose to play.

Music star, Kevin Bahati

That did not, however, did not really reflect the truth on the ground but secular music continued to be muzzled. So what happened was that all upcoming artists decided to shift towards injili. And we know this was true because, with the fall in popularity of injili (we’ll get into that shortly), we have seen a lot of gospel artists shift back to their comfort zone; secular music.

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When did the shift in popularity occur for gospel music?

I would argue that it had already begun slightly before the explosion of Gengeton but the new genre really pushed gospel over the edge as it coalesced most young artists interests. It was a fresh new sound, it was what everyone wanted to hear and it was also relatively cheap to produce as the break out stars had set an “organic” format. Guys like Ethic and Ochungulo Family.

Willy Paul
Former gospel artist Willy Paul

And if you ask me was at the very moment Kenyans realized the gospel artists themselves are hypocrites was the last hammer in the coffin of contemporary injili. The number of sexual scandals that surrounded the gospel fraternity meant that churches and their flock could no longer invite the artists over to perform for their youth ministries because they were not upholding the self-righteous image. Problem is, there were no new acts to replace those who had fallen from grace.

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Then the artists themselves began to flirt with the idea of going secular. Willy Paul was the more confident of the bunch. But he wasn’t the only one. Ivlyn Mutua, Kim Danny and now Bahati have followed just to mention a few. So the gospel industry is suffering a dearth of young, fresh talent while Gengeton is growing stronger by the day.

Kim Danny
Former gospel artist Kim Danny

Proof of this is the fact that guys like Daddy owen put out contemporary injili songs that no one has paid any attention to. This is the guy who dominated Kenyan entertainment after he released Tobina and more but his most recent submission has been a bust.

Any and all contemporary injili music that has been recently released has struggled to find a market. Perhaps this is just a passing cloud or perhaps it is time for gospel to be re-invented.

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My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay