Award winning singer Amani dishes out her music, love-life and what it’s like to be and stay on top of her game, writes SHIRLEY GENGA
What have you been up to lately?
I have been busy in the studio doing new music and videos. 2010 was a big year for me and I needed some time out to get back to basics. I have been in and out of the country working on a few projects.
So can we expect an album from you next year maybe?
I honestly do not know because I have many loose ends that need to be tied and I do not want to be Amani
those artistes who promise a release date and doesn’t deliver. My first album Amani, released in 2007, was a video and audio album had lasting power and was very versatile. It was the best thing I ever put out there; with so many big hits, I have managed to live off it for four years. That is why I am in no hurry to put out my new album until it is on point.
Which producers are you working with on you new album?
I am still working with Ogopa. They are my musical directors and we connect on a musical level. If something is working why ruin it? However, I will collaborate with artists from all over Africa who all bring something different to the table.
The first single you released back in the day was techno/house music, can we expect some more now that the genre is gaining popularity locally?
I like to keep a secret and surprise people, so I will remain mum on that.
How do you think you have grown since your first album?
I believe that vocally I have grown. I am working with a vocal coach and I am also a better live performer.
Tell us about being part of ‘Hands Across the World’ with R-Kelly and other African artists?
They picked me to be a part of the song because they believed I was popular across Africa. That was a great honour. I credit the honour to God. You know you dream about some things but you never really think it will ever come true. I had always dreamt that one day I would not only meet R-Kelly but also work with him and it came true. I also got to work with big acts from Africa like: Ali Kiba, Navio, Fally Ipupa, 2face Idibia, JK, 4*4 and Movazeleine.
Where did you record the song?
We recorded the song and video in Chicago. We stayed in a five star hotel, ‘The James Chicago’ for five days. I kept pinching myself just to make sure that I was not dreaming.
You won a PAM award last month, how does that make you feel?
It was wonderful feeling to know that my music is appreciated across the Kenyan border.
What does winning an award mean to you?
I love winning awards because it means that fans appreciate your work and those who work with me. What has been you lowest point in your career so far?
This year has been a tricky time for me because I was going through a lot of changes after my career peak in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, I won a Mama award and last year, I was able to work with R-Kelly. Getting to a peak is a wonderful experience but the only problem that remains is, what happens next. I had reached a high point in my career last year and the year before, I needed to take it to the next level. As a result, 2011 has been stressful, there has been a lot of expectations and pressure not just from outside, but from within myself. That is why I took a break to reflect and get back to the basics. I am so glad that 2011 is coming to an end.
How did you get out of the funk?
I am learning to stay positive no matter what. The high of achieving a lot eventually comes down and you have to stay positive or you cannot survive in this industry.
What are the challenges of the exposure that has come with you accomplishments?
I have met all kinds of people, some are good and some are bad. The challenge is in sieving the people I meet. I am particular about the people I surround myself with because you are whom you surround yourself with. I surround myself with old friends. In fact two of my closest friends are people I have known since I was a little girl.
Do you think it is important as a public figure to keep your private life private?
Being in the public means that you barely have a private life, your life is officially public so it is important to protect what you can. I try as much as possible to keep whatever little privacy I have to myself.
You used to work in a bank a few years ago, would you go back to banking when you are done with music?
I worked at a bank for nine months after completing my degree at USIU and it was the hardest nine months of my life. I cried everyday because I was unhappy. I believe in destiny and I guess working in a bank was not where God wanted me. If my music career were to come to an end, I think I would branch into fashion.
Are you dating?
I am single, I am dating and it is fun.
Is dating harder for you because you are a public figure?
Yes, it is sometimes. Some men view you as a conquest. If I notice that all a man is interested in is with the image of me being Amani and not really with me as a person, I give him the boot.
What is the worst relationship mistake that you have made?
Getting completely immersed into a relationship until you forget yourself.
Best relationship advice given to you?
Let the man chase you. It does not matter how hot he is, whether he is Idris Elba or Usher, let a man do the chasing.
Biggest lesson you have learnt so far as a woman?
To love myself as I am. I am a curvy woman, I have never been skinny so it would be pointless to go out of my way to look skinny. I have come to the point in my life where I have decided to be as healthy as I can be. I go to the gym at least three times a week.
Have you had any extreme stalkers?
Yes, I have had my share of stalkers but there was one in particular who was quite scary. He would call, text me and once he followed me. I was at Mobil Petrol Station on Mombasa Road when he called me to tell me what I was wearing and where I was. I was so spooked I drove out of there like a ghost was chasing me. I am so glad that he eventually got tired and stopped.
What do you have planned for 2012?
I am dreamer, I love to dream of the impossible .I used to dream of working with R-Kelly and that came true. I believe that if you can dream about something then you can achieve it. I thus dream that one of this days I will win a Grammy. I also hope to grow my career as far as God is willing to take me.
Any advice to young girls who want to make I in the music industry?
Work hard, stay positive and surround yourself with good people who want to see you succeed.
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