To dream is to be human. While some dreams come true early in our life, others come true late. Some never come at all because that’s the way the world is. However, Mary Ngina Mungai’s long cherished teenage dream came with the sunset of her life.
He found her as an 80-year-old geriatric whose great beauty and youthful cheerfulness faded to make way for an old grandmother’s face. Age weighed on him. She’s getting wrinkled and a recent hip replacement surgery has left her spending most of her time indoors. Occasionally, she walks around her quiet compound using a metal walker.
Despite the cocktail of body aches brought on by the vagaries of old age, Ms. Mungai, popularly known as Shosh by her friends, cannot stand still. Her whole being projects a rare excitement that mirrors that of a sixties teenager who dreamed of owning a music recording studio. Her hands continue to rub together in pent-up excitement. The chasing eyes behind the thick glasses shine in rapture. On a cloudy Saturday afternoon, the old dream finally came true.
“It took a while to come, but it finally happened. My childhood dream has now come true, ”she says of Somelody Studio; a gospel music recording studio that opened on Saturday in the Birikani area of Voi sub-county.
Somelody is a cowardly attempt at a coat rack. It is derived from Solomon representing wisdom and melody symbolizing the rhythm of songs. Establishing this studio on the outskirts of Voi town marks a milestone for the octogenarian who is also a musician with a number of recorded Kikuyu songs.
Born in 1941, Shosh has always had a passion for music. She dreamed of having a private studio where she could record her own songs whenever the musical muse visited her. As with all childhood dreams, she had to discover that they are easier to imagine than to realize. His was hampered by the lack of accessible and affordable studios. Over time, she pursued other careers, most notably as a nursing assistant at MP Shah from 1966 to 1973.
Her desire to sing faltered but continued to quietly brood deep in this special area where abandoned dreams seek solace. The responsibilities of adulthood, including marriage and parenting, further threatened to stifle his dream altogether.
It was only after 60 years that she recovered the dream of recording and resuscitated the tunes and melodies that were sleeping in her.
She says she was going to Nairobi to record her music. At her age, it was a task she found difficult and demanding.
“It was expensive and quite a challenge for someone my age, but I was determined to sing,” she says.
Even as she was traveling around town, the idea of having a studio where she could easily record her music with a minimum of fuss became more urgent. By this time however, the importance of the studio had changed its original course.
It had gone beyond his personal desire to record songs to become a desire to reach gifted young people and help them develop their musical talents through affordable and accessible recording studios.
She says that in the early years, recording music was a nightmare for future singers. She says her music career as a teenager was frustrated by the lack of equipment and opportunities to showcase her skills. This is one of the historical disadvantages of youth that she wants to correct. The studio will give young people what they were denied decades ago.
“In my youth, I wanted to sing but I couldn’t. Now I want to give young people who want to get into gospel music the opportunity that I didn’t have, ”says shosh.
However, recording in his studio comes with a condition. Somelody Studio will only be used for recording gospel music. She explains that other forms of contemporary secular music have enough studios elsewhere to get good recording deals.
“I made a personal commitment to God. I promised to use my studio for his work. That’s why we’re going to record gospel music, ”she adds.
Renowned producer Isaac Kaberere says the new studio has state-of-the-art equipment capable of recording and producing music that meets international standards. He says local gospel musicians will get affordable rates to record in the studio.
He says such an initiative is a huge boost in promoting and encouraging the growth of talent in rural areas, unlike in the past where musicians were forced to travel to big cities to find recording studios.
“It’s the best way to promote local talent in gospel music. Young people can come and record their songs without the inconvenience, ”he said.
By Wagema Mwangi