I am married to one husband with whom we not only produce great music but many children,” she chuckles as she sips her coffee.
She pauses for a moment, lost deep in thought as if trying to figure out the right words to say. The reality of her seemingly innocent statement hit her hard. She replayed the past seven years of marriage to her soulmate, Agundabweni Akweyu. What stood out at that moment was the gaping reality of their childless union.
Yes. They had accomplished fetes that they could not even begin to fathom as a couple and were indeed grateful to God. Yes. She loved her husband to the moon and back but that statement affected her differently on this fateful day. She quickly snapped out of that whirlpool that was threatening to pull her into the murky waters of discouragement and refocussed on the interview.
She smiles broadly and admits that she was really not ready to talk about children. She, however, lightens up and grants us the honour to engage her on the sensitive subject. Motherhood is a topic that is dear to her. The three-time Groove Award winner reveals that she uses that quirky statement not only as a confession of her deep-rooted faith and trust in God but as a reminder of His goodness and as a source of inspiration to others. She explains that she has resolved to trust God’s timing and promises while in the meantime choosing to live her life to the maximum, free from any fears and doubts.
“It has not been an easy journey especially being in the public scene. At first, it was difficult for us to face the reality and pressure from society to have children. I believe that children are a gift from God and He blesses whomever He chooses at His own time. I wish to inspire women who are still waiting on God for children to hold on and keep trusting,” she says.
The Mungu Mkuu hitmaker is of the opinion that there is more to motherhood than giving birth to a child. She, however, does not downplay the important role biological mothers play in raising children. As she patiently waits for the day she will hold her own, Evelyn has vowed to be a ‘mother’ to many. It is of great importance to her that she invests her time, energy and resources to her loved ones and to mentoring upcoming artists or anyone who reaches out to her for assistance.
“Motherhood is a beautiful ability that God has given women. I believe there are other aspects that make women. Apart from giving birth, women can mentor others, give back to society, use their skills and gifts to bring positive change. My greatest desire is to see others uplifted and I always feel fulfilled when I help others achieve their goals,” she beams.
Away from motherhood, the sassy musician seems to have carved out her own destiny with great success. Evelyn attributes this to God, proper work ethic and also applauds her husband for holding her hand in her journey. Working together with her husband has proven to be the best decision that she has ever made. She reveals that her husband does not hold back from correcting her when need be. He is also her number one fan and pillar of strength. When it comes to working, he is strictly professional and always aims for excellence, which she is forever grateful. In as much as the two spend quite a huge chunk of their time together, they just can’t seem to get enough of each other.
“I married my best friend. You can’t be bored when your best friend is around. My husband is very playful and funny. We laugh and cry together. We never let the day end when we are angry at each other, no matter how big or small the issue is, we just have to solve it,” she beams.
In an industry where not only gospel musicians but artists, in general, seem to be struggling to remain relevant, Evelyn clearly understands her calling and like fine wine, she is only getting better and better with time. The singer reveals that her personal walk with God is of great importance and she would never trade it for anything. According to her, spending time in prayer and reading the Bible is the secret sauce that has elevated her above challenges and her peers. Her website and Evelyn Wanjiru app on Google play store have also contributed greatly in promoting and marketing her music.
“My purpose is to win souls for the kingdom of God. My music is based on the word of God that is why it is able to remain relevant and minister to many people years after release. Respect, hard work and humility are the values that have kept me grounded in my ministry,” she says firmly.
We pick her brain on the latest scandals and sex allegations that have plagued the industry. We can clearly tell that we have touched a raw nerve but she tackles the question with grace and unprecedented poise as if she knew something that we did not. In as much as she does not condone the behaviour, she is of the opinion that all is not lost and chooses not to judge anybody.
“It is a global problem that should be dealt with from the root. It breaks my heart to see what is happening to our brothers and sisters. Instead of pointing fingers, we should seek them out and restore them with love. We need to find out exactly what is going on and walk with them, that is, if they are willing,” she says.
She laments on how unfair it is for the entire gospel industry to be deemed rotten from the mistakes of few artists who mess up.
“There are genuine gospel artists who put in the work and use their gift to minister to people. Some of us have worked so hard to get where we are and I honestly think it is quite unfair to discredit the genuine ones based on a few bad experiences,” she says.
She also notes with concern that the younger generation are missing the mark in that they are not patient or willing to be mentored until they are mature enough to handle their calling. She stresses on the importance of mentorship and submission to a church where they can grow spiritually and serve others in humility.
“Upcoming gospel musicians should realise that gospel music is a lifestyle and not just an avenue to get rich and famous. They should also be intentional in cultivating a strong relationship with God and guard their hearts against pride, which is what destroys great musicians,” she advises.
A product of mentorship herself, the artist swears by the positive impact it has had in shaping her into the phenomenal woman she is today. She reveals how serving under her pastors, working with her husband and being mentored by industry heavyweights such as Sarah K have helped her grow over the years. Together with her husband, the couple has started a mentorship school that trains gospel artists as well as youth in the creative industry on excellence, worship and business skills.
“The greatest legacy you can ever leave behind is empowered people. I am passionate about using my gift to spread the gospel. It means a lot to me to see the youth reach their full potential. I know once I help one person they will help another and it will have a ripple effect,” she says emphatically.
Evelyn is passionate about Africa. Which clearly oozes right from her dashing sense of style inspired by the bold and colourful African prints to her latest project – Praise Atmosphere, which is an annual event that seeks to bring together worshippers from different African countries for a worship experience as well as celebrate diverse gospel musicians.
“I strongly believe it is time for Africa. We held our first Praise Atmosphere event in November last year and it was just as we had envisioned. By God’s grace, we are planning to go bigger and include more African countries this year,” she says ecstatically.
In her ever expanding repertoire of projects, the Waweza hit maker has also dabbled in the fashion industry under the label Bwenieve Collections which was launched in 2013. It is a joint collaboration with her husband with whom they also co-founded Bwenieve Records.
“Bwenieve Collections was designed with the African Woman in mind. Our aim is to embrace our African heritage and help women feel confident in their diversity. Our designs are chic and contemporary and can be incorporated into the everyday wear as well as special occasions,” she says.
Evelyn behind the scenes
But behind her powerful voice lies misconceptions that the 29-year-old is too churched up to have any fun. Although she was born and raised in a strong Christian background with her entire life revolving around church, she is just like many other women her age. She has passions and hobbies that help her unwind and cool off the pressures of life.
She loves travelling and cooking for her husband whose favourite meal is ugali, fried goat and kienyeji. She cheekily admits that rice and beans will be her undoing as she can’t seem to get enough of this delicacy. Of late, she has started developing a keen interest in movies. Evelyn reels us further into her world by confessing that she is quick to forgive and forget when offended. She does not stay anry for long and does not hold grudges.
“I love travelling with my husband. It helps us relax and rejuvenate ourselves which is important as it not only brings us together as a couple but also helps us to reenergise and reevaluate our lives and set goals. I also love listening to Don Moen, Sinach and Emmy Kosgei who are my role models in the industry. My mother has also been a source of strenth in my journey” she muses.
Being in the limelight has had its fair share of pros and cons. She has gained loyal fans who stand and support her at all costs. She has met people whom she would never have met in a million years, travelled the world and mentored dozens of young artists and youth who have reached out to her. Most importantly, she has been able to use her gift to impact nations and spread the gospel.
The downside to fame is that it has attracted critics and stalkers who at the beginning of her career, proved to be quite a challenge to deal with. Over the years, she has, however, mastered the art of dealing with naysayers. She readily accepts positive criticism and ignores all the malicious clamour.
“I actually thank God for critics. They build you up as they tell you the truth. I am careful not to give them too much airtime though as it can leave you discouraged. My husband has access to all my social media accounts and we usually have a laugh at what stalkers and fans have to tell me,” she giggles.
The future is looking bright for Evelyn. As she looks back to how far she has come, she can only smile and celebrate. She is hopeful that God will fulfill His promises but until then, she will do what she knows how to do best – worship.