The recent leaking of a bitter phone conversation between popular Kikuyu gospel musician Sammy Irungu and an anonymous church lady is appalling, to say the least.

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It not only has the potential to dent the celebrated singer's reputation, but also that of other Kikuyu gospel artistes who may be as well judged using the same script.

As an old saying goes that every cloud has a silver lining, Irungu's blunder has got its silver lining in that it has gotten many of us in a candid conversation about our gospel artistes, their music and even why they are in it in the first place.

The conversation can, however, be complicated by the fact that a single isolated incident as this one, cannot not be used to pass a strong verdict on all Kikuyu gospel artistes as some are already doing.

As such, it is only good to go back to memory lane and look at the metamorphosis of a Kikuyu gospel artiste from where our memories can afford us to where we stand today.

The metamorphosis up to this point in time, gives us three types of Kikuyu gospel artistes.

1. Pre-Kikuyu FM radio gospel artistes

This is the generation of gospel artistes who cropped up long before the advent of Kikuyu radio in the early 2000s. They built their musical profiles mainly by their rich compositions that infused strong messages that aimed to achieve certain goals.

The artistes themselves had almost impeccable characters and mannerisms that rhymed so well with what they were preaching in their music.

Their songs are evergreen and still maintain relevance to this date. Making money from their music was never a priority.

2. Kikuyu FM radio gospel artistes

These gospel artistes sprouted after Kikuyu FM radios came into being. They can widely attribute their rise to Kikuyu radio stations that gave them massive airplay making them household names among their Kikuyu audiences.

This is the generation that discovered that music can be a full-time career with economic sense. They can, therefore, be said to have commercialized the Kikuyu gospel music.

Their compositions were also rich in a way so as to be afforded radio airplay which meant instant success for the artistes. These artistes' mannerisms were widely dictated by the need to project a good reputation that was consistent with their songs, as doing otherwise would mean 'bad business'.

Their music remained relevant up to the point it would stop to enjoy massive radio airplay.

3. Digital Kikuyu gospel artistes

This is a wave of Kikuyu gospel artistes who have come to the scene through alternative digital platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud in addition to Kikuyu media that now include TV. Many more continue to come up.

Their musical compositions are shallow and mostly guided by the prevailing times and circumstances. 

Their craving for money and fame is unrivalled. Many of these artistes are also controversial and their characters and spirituality are questionable.

As their music is dictated by time and circumstances, you find that many are very prolific as they have to keep tabs with the fast changing times so as to maintain relevance and stay afloat.

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