Choirmaster using one-man acapella to send inspiration message

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Award winning choir master. Photo/PD/JASMINE ATIENO

Martin Mutinda has been lifting the spirits of many through his well-crafted songs and powerful voice. He shares with Jasmine Atieno how he was forced to be creative following Covid-19 pandemic that affected his career.

With the entertainment industry being one of the most affected sectors due  to Covid-19 pandemic, many of those depending on proceeds from the industry had to think outside the box and get out of their comfort zones in order to survive the hard times.

One of them is Martin Mutinda, choirmaster at Queen of Peace Choir Cathedral, Machakos.  

Before the pandemic, he would write songs and play scripts for schools, colleges and churches at a fee.

This has not been possible since no such activities are happening. While he also directs several choirs across the country, he still could not meet them as before.

The membership of these choirs has dropped due to the obvious reasons. Others no longer meet for the fear contracting the virus. But he still had to make a living somehow. 

So, the 47-year-old musician decided to try something new as a solo artiste. He now blends his many voices to create melodious songs.

This has been made possible through Acapella App. He has recorded and released several short songs on his YouTube channel.

The songs are on different themes, but mainly cover impact Covid-19 pandemic has had on the general public. His acapella music videos including Janga La Korona, Tuwe na Tumaini, Korona ajenda yako gani?

Matin Mutinda with Machakos county choir. Photo/PD/JASMINE ATIENO

We`ve got the Power, Suluhu ni Kwake Mungu, Sema Neno Moja and Heri Niwe Mshamba have gone viral since then and earned him more followers on different platforms. 

“When Covid-19 struck, I could not meet my choir for the normal choir sessions.

I had to continue doing something musical to sustain my relevancy and keep my voice in check.

I give credit to one of my music mentors and teacher Sylvester Otieno aka Shujaa from Kenyatta University, who did a solo recording through the Acappela App.

I also took it up and also did several songs. I am still doing it to date,” shares the talented musician.

Like father, like son

The first born in a family of seven was born and raised in Makueni county. He went to Watuka Primary School and later Kathonzweni High School all in Makueni county where he completed his secondary education in 1994.

His journey in music though, dates way back in his chldhood, coming from a musical family.

He got a sponsorship from a family friend who knew of his family musical background allowing him a chance to complete university education.

So, between the year 1996 and 2000, he did a Bachelor of Arts degree in Performing Arts at University of Nairobi through distance learning while working with Premese Africa as an Administrative Assistant. 

Martin Mutinda directs Machakos Queen of Peace Choir at a past event. Photo/PD/Jasmine Atieno

“My father, Anthony Kiilu, was and is a music teacher. Through him I got the basics.

He was my music subject teacher both in primary and secondary school. He is my mentor.

At my young age, I participated in my local Sunday School church activities where I wrote my first ever composition Yona Mtumishi wa Mungu, a three-part chorus, which won at all levels of the competition then.

This gave me the passion to move on and on. At one time while in Class Three, I remember singing in a girls’ choir category, Class 33 in the Kenya Music Festivals then, as the only boy.

The music teacher then a Mr Kyongo was so surprised by my passion and he had to allow me. I sang soprano 1,” he shares about his journey. 

Through his entire youth, Martin participated in so many choir activities, at school and in the church.

He could at times assist in training of various festival pieces with his little knowledge in music.

And he conducted his first performance staged by Sunday School children from his local church in 1988 while in Class Seven.

This gave him confidence and he also learnt of the intrigues that came along with choir directing.

“Choir conducting is a serious assignment hence I had to learn from seasoned guys in this field.

As I grew up, I learned quite a lot from my dad. I have been a choirmaster in several choirs in the country so far,” he shares.

Content creation 

Martin writes his music depending on several considerations. But to be precise, he writes sacred compositions, classical pieces, arrangements of the African folk melodies, compositions based on different themes, arrangements of popular secular and sacred melodies, among other varieties.

He has a collection of the above repertoire awaiting publication hopefully in the near future. 

The reception he has been getting on social media platforms, he says, has been amazing.

He has close to views close to 4,000 on Facebook and comments of appreciations and encouragements. He has also increased his YouTube Subscription. 

In his entire musical life so far, the artiste has received awards from various music festivals and competitions such as certificates of merit, participation, recognition and trophies.

This has happened through the choirs that he directed in schools, colleges, churches, parastatals and counties.

He is also amongst the artistes who received stimulus package that was aimed at cushioning the artistes from the effects of the pandemic mid last year through the acapellas. This has also encouraged him so much to create more content. 

“If there is an important lesson the pandemic has taught me, is that I should never put all my eggs in one basket. 

I hope things will brighten up in the future and translate our efforts into coins. I have the will and yes I will do it.

The bottom of one hill is the beginning of yet another. So, I shall keep climbing.

That has kept the faith in me despite the challenges we face as a people,” says the father of three. 

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