After Pulse broke the news that Esther Passari’s daughter, Makenna Maria, was going into music, the usual doubting Thomases spoke out. Well, the 16-year-old landed from London a week ago where she is pursuing her studies and music and granted Pulse an exclusive story.

With all the wealth associated with your family, why did you go into singing — a career many Kenyans perceive as less lucrative?

Makenna: I have always loved singing, acting and dancing since I was young. I grew up listening to Rihanna, Akon, TI, T-Pain, Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé and I kept dreaming that one day I would hit their celebrity status.

Are those your idols?

Each of them impacts my music career differently. Akon’s African roots and stardom inspires me. I like Rihanna and Beyoncé’s energy and adore Christina Aguilera’s vocal ranges.

Between music and academics, where does your heart lie?

M: Music. When I told my mother that I wanted to pursue music, at first she didn’t believe me. She is now paying for my studio sessions and related costs. I am pursuing my studies in the United Kingdom where I am also recording my music. I am working with a music writer called Richard Darbyshire as well as Sonia Jones, who also works closely with Sony Music Records.

You released the single Yeah, No, Definitely in the UK some months ago. Was that your debut song?

No it wasn’t. I have recorded eight tracks among them Cool it Down, Yellow Wooden Boat, Boyfriend Number Three and Get Loud. I have also done some collaborations with Cannibal, and Jua Cali is next on line, as well as many others.

You received some harsh feedback the first time Yeah, No, Definitely was posted on YouTube. What was your reaction?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and as much as the song got good reviews, critics and haters will always pop out. The critics never bothered me from focusing on my music success. No one can.

Most of your songs are about love and romance. At 16, what inspires you to think about romance?

I watch a lot of movies and read many books. My mind is open to real life issues. I should note that one of my songs is a peace track. I plan to launch it in Kenya in December. Besides, my music composer Darbyshire does most of the authoring. 

From your music to physical image, someone would think you are a Rihanna wannabe...

Rihanna wannabe? I don’t compare myself to anyone. There can only be one Makenna and one Rihanna. I am cutting my own identity as my dreams go beyond being in anyone’s shadow. I want to live my own legacy.

Do you plan on signing with any major record label?

Right now, my focus is on producing good music and making my name as an international star of Kenyan origin. I’m taking it one step at a time.

But word has it that you look forward to signing with Akon’s Konvict Muzik...

I would so much appreciate that. I am glad that my visit coincides with Akon’s show here and I am told he will be scouting for local talent to sign when in Nairobi. I like what he has done with P-Square in the Chop My Money collabo as well as the Body On Me with Ashanti. I will definitely give it a shot. I would even want to share the stage with him on Saturday (tomorrow) at Carnivore.

How do you plan to connect with local fans here since you are doing all this from UK?

I am in touch with the local music scene. I plan to do a launch here in December. Like I said, I have projects with many local acts like Cannibal, Jua Cali and Habida. I have a team working for me here. Soon, I will cover the ground.

How long will you be in Kenya?

I am only here for two weeks and my schedule is quite tight. My music is now out in local stations and fans should expect more when I return in December.