When he’s not recording his music or dancing beside his mentor Gloria Muliro, Paul Lusher Majani, 26, is selling smokies on the streets of Ruiru town while dressed in a suit.
He speaks to Caroline Nyanga about his trying journey to musical success and finding his passion in mentoring young men and women into dance
How does it feel to be in high demand, what is your secret to success?
I owe a debt of gratitude to God for his unmerited favour upon my life. That side of my success emanates from my total discipline both in and out of stage. I do a lot of planning and preparations before I step on stage with my fellow dancers, I always want to give my fans more than they deserve.
You’ve mentored a number of gospel dancers across the country, what was that like?
It takes a lot of sacrifice and time but this is one of the things I enjoy and love doing. I train them for more than two hours a day, depending on how prepared they are.
You are a principal dancer to gospel singer Gloria Muliro, how did the two of you meet?
I met Gloria Muliro four years ago during her Usaidizi video shoot that was being conducted in the same venue where my crew and I were rehearsing. Impressed by our talent, she asked for my number as the group leader and like they say, the rest is history.
What is it like, working with her?
Great. It’s an advantage to be associated with a talented singer and minister of the word of God who has been widely praised for her work across the country and beyond. For the four years I have worked with her, I have learnt and understood the art of good and serious gospel music.
Speaking of dancing, has it been easy building a career?
Not really. During the initial stages of my career, I performed in schools within Ruiru and in some dingy areas before I finally made a breakthrough. On a few occasions, I fell victim to con promoters and managers who took advantage of my talent to enrich themselves. However, I am glad that is in the past now.
You are also a singer by profession let us in on your music?
Yes, I am on the verge of releasing my debut album Atakuloketi (a sheng word meaning God will locate you). So far, I have released two singles Haiya and the title song Atakuloketi, recorded at Tacenti Production, Ruiru. The two singles have been well received by the local gospel fraternity.
What inspires and guides your songs?
I am inspired by the daily happenings in my life, and the word of God. I pile these and put them in form of music in order to pass the message to the society. When I wake up I ask myself if my fans would be comfortable listening to the new song I am drafting. Will they be inspired or dejected by the lyrics? That is why I inject my songs with a message of hope for the coming generation.
What does music mean to you?
Music has been a great part of me ever since I was a pupil at St Elizabeth Primary School in Lunga Lunga. But I had to concentrate on my studies first so it was only upon completing high school that I decided to follow my heart’s desire - to venture into professional dancing and music.
In 1999, I formed my own dance crew dubbed Dominion Dancers comprising four boys who specialised in gospel music. I also nurtured three other dance groups at Wonder Tabernacle Church, Ruiru.
What were the challenges you faced?
It’s been a real struggle. For instance, when I released my debut single Haiya, I hardly got any airplay in the media owing to the fact that I was unknown and had no money. The deejays in charge asked for huge sums of money to play my songs. I’m an orphan and I take care of my younger sister currently in high school.
This aside, on several occasions, I have sung in various churches within Ruiru without pay. All they told me is that God would bless me abundantly for the good work. My first real contract was with a gospel musician who was on the verge of shooting seven music videos at Kamakis, Ruiru.
The gig earned me and my crew a meagre Sh300 to share among us. It was hardly enough to take us back home. I’ve also had to deal with a clique of green-eyed fellow artistes jealous of my talent.
What kept you going?
I wanted to give my fans the best. I wanted to reach out to the lost souls through my music and dance.
To prove my intent, I released my second single. Soon after, we started performing in different churches within Ruiru who paid us well for our work. We also featured in music videos for various renowned gospel musicians and were paid well. Since then, it appears, there is no looking back. We’ve been on high demand in different parts of the country.
This has motivated me and to go the extra mile and use my God-given skills to train aspiring gospel dancers for little or no fee depending on their backgrounds.
How have you grown since then?
I have improved all around as far as my song-writing and stage work is concerned. When I first started, I just wanted to make music, but I didn’t know much about anything so I made what I heard other musicians making. I couldn’t really be myself because I didn’t have a well-thought-out and clear direction. Now, I know a lot more and I am more confident in my ability to not only write and record my lyrics, but to mix down my vocals and take chances when it comes to manipulating my voice and my subject matter.
You also specialise in selling ‘smokies’ in suits?
When I’m not performing, I also eke out a living by selling ‘smokies’ within Ruiru town, mainly at Hakairu. This is something I have done for a year to support my music. One day, I decided to wear a suit to work at my smokie business. My clients loved the look so I made it my dress code. Although I initially sold a packet a day, today I sell four packets on a bad day, something that has seen me record my debut album that is on the verge of completion and is due for launch soon.
Tell us about your family
I’m the first child in a family of two born. I was born in a single parent home. My late mother Margret Njeri, was the sole breadwinner. When she died, I was left with the responsibility of educating my younger sister who is a student at Galaxy High School in Lunga Lunga Nairobi. I chose to settle in Ruiru owing to the fact that I am familiar with area and the fact that the people are friendly. ?
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