By Suleiman Jabali
Betty Hamisha is one of the fast rising musicians. Her latest single Wasi Wasi has been received very well and has been viral on social media. Our reporter Suleiman Jabali caught up with her and wanted to know more about her:
Who is Betty Hamisha? Is Hamisha your real name ama ni jina la Kisanii?
My official name is Elizabeth Muthoni but people call me Betty Hamisha. Hamisha is an artistic name or jina la kibiashara as Kenyans love it. Betty is a humble Kenyan lady born of two Kikuyu parents from Maragwa, Central Kenya. She moved to the United States where she currently lives.
Tell us something about you musical journey. When did you discover you have a talent in singing?
I have loved music since I was young but I never imagined one day I’ll be a musician. While in primary school, my mother realized that I was listening to too much music. She used to switch off radio to bar me from listening to music. She did not know I had a talent in music. Like any other parent, she wanted me to concentrate on my studies. Had she discovered earlier that music was my calling, and supported me, maybe I would be a renowned musician now. I remember one day after finishing school, a friend of mine invited me for a talk show where I had to sing a little. That is when my talent in singing was detected. The directors told me I have powerful vocals.
Tell us about your first songs:
Basically I started doing professional singing last year March 2020. I thought about it when I was driving to work. I stopped for 15 minutes and composed my first song Achana naye followed by Kikuyu songs Ningwedete, Wi Wakwa, Ningwetereera and now my latest hit song Wasi Wasi that has been received very well. I sing in both Gikuyu and Swahili.
Tell us about the latest hit Wasi wasi:
Oh yes. Wasi wasi is a song that I collabod with a Tanzanian Musician called Bexy who lives in Dae es Salaam. I this song, Bexy and I shared the idea and just like that, Wasi wasi was produced.
Bexy is a great guy whom I enjoy working with. Wasi wasi is a song based on the realities of life that went experienced everyday. Most of my songs are based on real life experiences. For Wasi Wasi, I did not know it to be received well but thank God, it is the best so far. People love it.
You said Bexy lives in Tanzania and Betty lives in the US. How did you guys manage to shoot your video that it came out very well:
Well, you are right; the Wasi Wasi video was shot in Dar Es Salaam and US but was edited by my producer who is here in the US. Bexy had his script and I had mine. I recorded the vocals here and sent them to TZ to our local producer to mix them with bexy’s.
How do you normally produce your music:
That is an interesting question. Normally, I temporarily record my vocals here in the US then send it to my producer back in Kenya for mixing and mastering. If it is a collabo, I do it from here and my collaborator does it from the other end then we send the content to our respective producers in Nairobi and US. video is edited in the US while vocals are done in Nairobi or Dar es Alam. The reason why vocals are locally mastered is because producers know the language hence putting everything in order. But I can tell you it is hectic managing music, work and family here in the US. You know how hard one has to work in the US to make ends meet.
Are you looking to collabo with any particular popular artiste?
Oh yes. In future if God allows, I am looking forward to work with Kikuyu artistes like Samido, Sarafina and Salim Junior. Other renowned East African Artists I look forward to work with include Akothee, Lady Jay Dee and Otile Brown. Any other artiste who is interested, I am an easy soul. I’ve already done collabos with local artistes like King Alfytin. Our song ‘Kwenye streets‘ narates the hardship of the youths in Kenya.
Tell us something about your personal life if you don’t mind:
Well, I’ll keep that private for now.
What are some of the challenges you face when it comes to market your music given that your audience is in the US? How do you reach your fans?
Indeed that is a problem. There are lots of challenges but at the moment I depend on social media to reach my fans. I have a page where my fans engage me and I also have a you tube channel where I post my music. Sincerely, I work extra hard to finance my music.
Are you planning to relocate back home in future if your musical career reaches its peak?
Hopefully if all goes well, I might go back home because I am planning to go back home and open a studio that will help nurture and support upcoming musicians. In my studio, young artises will record their first songs free of charge. I also want to found programs that promote youth empowerment and create awareness on domestic violence.
Finally, what message do you have to parents who discourage their kids from becoming musicians?
You see, when I was younger, I really loved music so much but my mother did not like it. In fact, when young I would save all my money to buy batteries for radio just to listen to music. My mum was unhappy. She wanted me to concentrate on my studies. I used to, and I still do love rhumba, reggae, R&B and Mugithi. If not for my mum, I would become a musician long time ago. Like I mentioned earlier, my mum used to switch off the radio so that I don’t listen to music. I wish she encouraged me. May be I would be a big artist now. I would like to advise parents to support their children’s talents. If your child expresses interest in music, support them. Who Knows, they might be the Diamonds and Size 8s of tomorrow.
Lastly, what do you have in store for your fans? Any new song coming soon?
Well, let that be a surprise. Something good is cooking but let it be a surprise for now.
Thank you Hamisha