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Denno: Beyond sight

By - Updated Thursday, December 13th 2012 at 20:43 GMT +3

Dennis Karanja aka Denno, 24, changed many peoples’ perspective of the physically challenged and inspired thousands with his emotional hit collabo with Daddy Owen, Mbona, released early this year

Few knew him before, but now he has a Kisima Award in his fledgling trophy cabinet. Come Sunday, he will mark another milestone in this fairy tale journey when he launches his debut album, Naona Mbali, at the Nairobi Pentecostal Church, Valley Road.

As our Spotlight artiste of the Year in this anniversary issue, Pulse takes a reality check on the singer’s challenging life and music journey 

1. Denno was born on July 21, 1988. He is the second born in a family of three children; two boys and one girl.

2. He was born blind. It took him three years to learn Braille. He graduated from Thika Primary School for the blind in 2006 and proceeded to Thika High School for the Blind for his secondary education, which he completed in 2010. He is currently enrolled at the Kenya Society for the Blind — doing computer packages.

3. Since he was small, he aspired to become a musician and dreamed that one day he would record songs that would inspire many hearts. His faith in God remained his driving force as he turned every challenge into opportunity.

4. In 2007, he began writing songs. He composed ten songs that were never produced as he didn’t have the capital the producers asked for and also because many production stables shunned him.

5. He went on to work on yet another eight songs, which he hoped to release but he didn’t. Throughout 2009, he continued to write more songs and knock on more studio doors to no avail. He was un known to many and only a few friends and family members encouraged and cheered him on in his musical quest.

6. The following year, he was featured on the Citizen TV Show, Kubamba. While there, he met gospel star Daddy Owen, whom he had always wanted to do a song with. All along he had been inspired by Daddy Owen’s songs most of which he could sing, word for word.

7. He had written a song called Lord Come Down with the intention of doing it with Daddy Owen and here, staring at him, was the opportunity. That meeting was the genesis of the award-winning song Mbona, the great inspiring hit that is arguably the biggest gospel track in the region this year.

8. He is scheduled to launch his debut album titled Naona Mbali this Sunday — at the Nairobi Pentecostal Church, Valley Road. The event has attracted top gospel and secular artistes, as well as dignitaries.

9. There will be no gate charge at the album launch. The album will be available to the public on that day at a cost of Sh300. It will comprise eight new songs, one of which is Mbona. The album features several artistes with whom he has been working with, among them his mentor Daddy Owen. 

10. Denno, now one of the most respected and sought-after artistes — thanks to Mbona, and his positive vibrant focus — aspires to be a music producer running his own production studio some day.

11. Together with MTV Awards winner Daddy Owen, he has started the national Mbona Campaign to reduce the stigma on physically challenged people. 

12. As a person living with a disability, Dennis desires to nurture the talents of people with disabilities as well as fight the discrimination that comes with living with a disability.

13. One of his favourite phrases is that he does not seek pity; all he seeks is an opportunity. He is a firm believer in the fact that disability is not inability.