I still cheekily ask whether or not Willy Paul is a gospel singer but does it even matter anymore? At a time when, to be considered a gospel artist, you only need to paste any ‘Godly’ reference in the lyric sheet and be attending one of those posh churches, we have come to accept anything mediocre. That said, WP has stood out as one of the most popular and interesting Kenyan acts in whichever category look at. He has amassed a huge following across gender and age boundaries. Still, it has proved difficult for him to cross the borders and become a regional or even international brand.
His recent collaborative project with Wasafi’s Harmonize ended with him going on a nasty rant. That had been a practical attempt for him to pick a slice of that socially active Tanzanian fan-base. It seems the WCB partners did not fancy him getting it that easy. Anyways, in Saldido Records, he now has a label of his own but it remains to be seen how he’ll use it to strategize and enter the neighboring markets. Myself, I believe it will be difficult because he will have to shake away that ‘gospel’ tag first. Not that it’s a bad thing for an artist trying to go bigger but, honestly, Kenyan gospel music hardly matches the standard of other countries. In these areas, there is a clear distinction and secular sounds different. Will he be able, for example, to impress the Christian Ugandan audience with his imitation of pop sounds? Will the Rwandans invite him to their stereo systems? Only time can tell but who has the luxury of time.
His options? He should make his music more genuinely religious or… he reverts to secular music, where he would clearly fit in. Judgmental or not, I am only trying to help a promising talent.
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