Grace Mwai – this young, artistic and vibrant woman has a voice that has made gospel music devotees stop in their tracks and listen to what she has to say.
The Inooro Television Rurumuka programme host knows she has a long way to go before she can have the international recognition that other gospel artistes receive – but she is determined to succeed.
The upbeat singer shared her fears, struggles, highs and lows with Citizen Digital.
Born and raised in Nyeri
“I was raised in Nyeri. I am the last born in a family of three (two girls, one boy). My brother (the second born), was my parents’ favourite as he is the only boy in the family. I wasn’t spoilt as many might think. Though, I enjoyed growing up as the last born.”
“I played football (goalkeeper) and badminton during my childhood. I stopped engaging in vigorous sporting activities after I left high school.
The Consolata Primary School and Kibutha Girls’ High School alumnus says she was a dormitory captain and a Christian Union devotee while schooling at the former.
“I have sung all my life, though I recorded my first album in 2008. The album that thrust me into the limelight was Kirathimo which I released in 2013.
She says she did not expect such a huge success from the album – and that it scared her; at the same time, encouraged her to toil harder.
“It challenged me more because I was this village girl who had just sprung into the limelight. It also humbled me as it taught me that no matter where you come from, you can command an audience when you try.
Her success however did not just come at the first attempt – she had earlier tried, but failed to make an impact.
“When I produced my first album (Mawega Maku), I had borrowed money from my parents and the album did not do well. I felt bad about it. I felt like I had disappointed them because they had committed a huge amount of money (Ksh12, 000) back then. At the same time, I encouraged myself that it was just the beginning of better things to come.”
Kikuyu music industry is highly competitive. What is she doing to remain relevant?
“I would say, being intentional. Before I release my songs, I take time with it – writing it, I pray about it and commit myself to it. I will not stop doing music. It has brought me this far. I am very intentional with it. My key goal is to use music to bring hope to the society.”
She attended the same church as Esther Wahome. Was she motivated to achieve a fete as big as hers (Ms Wahome’s)?
“It made me work harder; it made me want to know more. Reaching her level requires effort. I would look at her and admire her. It challenged me to give my best and become a better person. We interact but not very much; even when she fellowshipped at that church, I wasn’t there. I came way later after she’d left. We have however met in one or two gigs. I admire her secretly.”
She is a presenter with Inooro Television. Did she foresee herself being a media personality?
“I did not even in my wildest dreams think that I would be a media personality. I am still in the process of self discovery, but to me, it is a miracle. Inooro Television was looking for a gospel show host. They thus called me for an interview which I passed. The experience is good, I am still learning though.”
Most embarrassing moment…
“(Laughs) there was this time I was performing at a 2013 Groove Party and the fog machine on stage emitted a dense vapor that appeared similar to smoke. I was shocked; I thought the stage was on fire! I forgot the lyrics to my song. Actually, I almost ran away; I panicked until the belt on my skirt loosened and fell off, but thank God I had dancers who continued doing their thing on stage – so I wondered why they weren’t running away. I asked one of them what that (smoke) was. He enlightened me. After that embarrassment, I sang quite a distance away from the fog machine.”
Is Grace Mwai hooked (dating)?
“No, I am single and mingling. I haven’t identified the potential partner yet. God will bring me prince charming. I am the princess of the Lord.
“My right man has to be God-fearing, that is the only attribute I prioritise. When a man is God-fearing, all other attributes fall into place. Every other thing comes with it – He is good, kind, intelligent…That is what my mum taught me.”
What’s her observation about Kenya’s dating scene?
“Kenyans respect and appreciate matters dating and marriage. What are being highlighted about them mostly are the bad things, but there’s the good side to them – which forms a huge slice.
“I have attended many wedding ceremonies, I meet new couples every day, and they are doing well, so dating and marriage is really working. Hata yangu lazima ita-work (Even my marriage will work.”
When should we expect her wedding?
“(Laughs) harusi tunayo, hatuna? The wedding will happen as soon as I find Mr Right; I will call everyone to the occasion.”
“I would like to have at least six kids. I love children. They are wonderful, they make the world complete. And then, having six children will allow me and my husband to name them equally after our parents.”
The Marketing and Business Administration graduate from Mount Kenya University has worked as an administrator at Nyeri a firm before embarking on music and TV presenting. She is a strong proponent of education pursuit, and says even if one has ingenious talent, he or she should first seek education.
“In as much as you are talented, you need to do it skillfully. To add on the skills, education teaches someone perseverance. Talent with brains is vital. Going to school is not a waste of time, it will make you a better person; even in the music world, professionalism is appreciated.”
She had suffered low self-esteem
“Coming from the village, made me feel inferior. I thought someone ‘better’ should be where I am. The kind of work I do, many a times, I believed was for better educated people, with a lot of money and a big name.
“People view celebrities differently and often believe we should not have our low moments – but we usually have such days.
“My legs I believed looked like sticks, so I would wear pair of trousers and long dresses. Sometimes I feel my neck is just too long! Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to wear any make-up because I think that is what gives people a fake illusion that I am beautiful. I had a rough time to accept that I should be donning make-up.”
As Grace Mwai makes her mark on the gospel scene she hopes that in the future, she will have enough money to start a children’s home for orphans and vulnerable children.
Check out the video of her hit song ‘Kirathimo’ below.