Q & A: Kyriah Dee, The New Gospel Sensation

Inspirational: Kyriah D

Inspirational: Kyriah D

She has a vision of Gospel music taking off in Ireland, a business mindset and a song for listeners’ lives to have a “Turn Around” in 2011. Released on New Year’s Day, the song by Kyriah Dee, singer and entrepreneur from Ireland has managed to get people of all ages and races grooving and turning around on their living room floors the world over.

The artist’s calendar has begun to fill up and we were lucky to catch up with her on Friday night, the eve of the first leg of her mini tour with fellow gospel artists, Victizzle, Utter Once and Tunde Esho among others.

Her aim, she said is to promote gospel music in Ireland, which she lamented, “was not being given enough space on radio stations, award ceremonies and other platforms”. With her team, ABRA (African Bred and Raised Artists) they are also doing business in various areas of art and entertainment.

We got a chance to carry out a full interview with the artist and here is what she had to say.

First of all, happy new year.

Kyriah: Happy new you to you too.

It’s good you have got something to be happy and proud about as the year 2011 begins. The release of your new single “Turn Around” and the video. Tell us a bit more about that.

Kyriah: Yes, I am really happy. The song came to me very randomly. It took up to 4 months between recording the vocals and recording the video. At this moment we are talking to distributors about releasing the song via several networks.

What do you mean the song came to you randomly?

Kyriah: Well actually, I believe God gave me that song. I got the melody and when I went to the studio, I suddenly knew what music I wanted on for the track, I knew what instruments I wanted and the chords e.t.c. At the time I recorded it, my manager wasn’t ready to press on with the song. He was more keen on building my album, but after a team meeting everyone fell in love with the song and the whole team made a decision to put aside the album project and pursue the release and promotion of “Turn Around” as a single.

Do Inspirational: Kyriah D[/caption]you think it is doing well?

Kyriah: Yes. It has gotten a good response from many fans. For example, when we showed the video to Betty Makoni (Zimbabwean gender activist and founder of the Girl Child Network), she was very impressed. She has an empowerment thing she is doing for women in Zimbabwe. She decided to use the song with Girl Child Network campaign. In turn, I pledged 10% of the single’s sales to the cause and my label ABRA pledged it’s 20% share towards the same cause.

Why did you make the pledge?

Kyriah: I went through a lot as a woman. I had very bad experiences growing up in Zimbabwe. You know, sometimes they make it hard for women in my country. Some of my aunts only finished primary school, and did not get a chance to carry on to high school. There are a lot of issues regarding rape and virgin myths.

Tell us a little bit about the experience and these virgin myths?

Kyriah: I was in a bitter and abusive relationship for about 6 years and organisations like Betty’s helped me out of the situation. Some of the work that she does is unbelievable. As for the virgin myths, some men believe that if they have AIDS and sleep with a virgin girl, they will be cured. A lot of young girls get raped because of that. It is very disheartening and devastating. Betty fights to protect girls like that using funding from donors. Imagine how little it costs to send a child to school and yet many kids don’t go.

Is that what shapes you as an artist?

Kyriah: Yes, it motivates me to write songs. I am motivated by people like Betty. She is fearless. She is the kind of person I want to become one day. Sometimes you get caught up in worrying about what people might think. She is teaching me not to. I work with men who respect me but then I have and continue to come across some men who are disrespectful to women.

(Noise from the background, kids talking)

Wait, let me talk to the kids. I am babysitting. My nephew, my niece and my son.

Oh you have a son?

Kyriah: Yes I have a son. He is 3. (chats with the kids)

What’s behind the name Kyriah Dee?

Kyriah: Ok, I was born Samantha Boka. Kariah means – noble lady. It’s Hebrew. I replaced the “a” with a “y” to make it look and sound slightly different. When I read the Bible I understand that it is someone’s density to change their name when they have an encounter with God. Examples are Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel and Saul to Paul. I thought that Kariah was the name God wanted for me.

Where does the music influence come from?

Kyriah: When I was growing it (music) was all around me. My half sister Prudence Katomeni is a jazz singer. My aunt used to sing a lot. My grandmother is from South Africa and South Africa is rich in music and art. At home, everyone was always singing. For me it began at around 15 or 16 when I started singing in church. My inspiration was God. I went from singing in the choir to doing solos and special pieces on Sundays.

And how did this develop to what it is now?

Kyriah: Later on in life, I did 2 months vocal training. I was always yelling and making noise in the house. I met Jusa (Zimbabwe/UK Dancehall producer) 3 years ago. He taught me a lot about recording myself at home. I bought the kit and I learnt how to mix. He would send the raw files and I would work on them. It was very good training. I would work on Dancehall “Riddims”, Dub-Plates for DJs and Radio and hooks for raw hip-hop tracks. I would just put my vocals on a lot of beats and sell them. I actually did the hook for Doseone’s Catch Me Now. You won’t believe it’s me. (She shows me a video on youtube). This track has gone the furthest so far

Focused:Kyriah

Focused:Kyriah

So you are also into Hip Hop?

Kyriah: No, hip hop conflicts with my beliefs. I believe in certain principles

What about Kirk Franklin’s type of hip hop?

Kyriah: I would do that. I do some similar sort of stuff with my cousin. I am very careful about what I do. When I worked on the hip hop hooks, I was doing it to take care of my son in difficult circumstances. I stopped doing that about 9 months ago.

So, the combination with Doseone, how did it happen?

Kyriah: We bumped into each other in the studio. I was just humming some melodies and ad-libing. He liked what i was doing. He asked me to do a hook. I wrote it as I was singing and he liked it. He had very little time left in the studio and I used that to complete the entire hook.

Back to “Turn Around”, Was the song directed to a particular audience?

Kyriah: I didn’t want it to be a message for Christians or gospel listeners alone. I wanted it to be for any person that breathes and eats. I didn’t want it to be confined to a certain group of people. It’s just a message to say every situation changes. I want to inspire people. I hate the way the world is so dark. I felt when God gave me the message it was for this particular moment.

I have had testimonies. A friend had a huge fight with his girlfriend recently and they split. I told him to pray and God will turn the situation around. At first he saw it as a joke, but later on took my advice. He prayed and within an hour his girlfriend texted, and now they are back together. From that time on he started believing in God. Everything seems dark because people don’t believe in God. I want the world to start having faith again. That is my passion. I will always embed a message from God in my songs, even when the song is talking about general love issues.

How about for you personally. Have you had a turn around moment?

Kyriah: When I was going though an abusive relationship, I was writing “dark songs”. Jusa and members of my team even asked me at one point “if I wanted to give people suggestions to kill themselves”. I have had that turn around moment already. Struggles are there but I continue to have a turn around.

Who produced the song?

Kyriah: Chris Kabs. He is a Congolese born artist. Actually, I am not sure if he was born in Congo but his parents are Congolese. He is very good, plays a lot of instruments, guitar, drums e.t.c.

Is he your main producer?

Kyriah: No, Jusa produces for me as well. As my mentor he advised me not to rely on one producer because the beats needs have a different feel. I work with about 8 different producers.

And who directed the video?

Kyriah: Jusa directed the video over 8 hours.

What concept were you tyring to deliver?

Kyriah: The video portrays 4 versions of myself. In black – Im the radical activist, in Kyriah Dee T-shirt – I am the perfomer, With the child – I am the mum, In the chair – I am a businesswoman. Life Turning Around.

Are there any other singles we should look out for?

Kyriah: “This is personal”, is my next single. Also look out for “Bad boy, good girl” featuring Vizzy Crown.

What is it all about?

Kyriah: “Bad boy, good girl” is for people to understand how the Christian girl gets by. I wrote it for the Christian-girl who is pursued by Mr Bad-boy with his charm. It’s a track that’s so real. I have an idea for the video.

Have you got a fan base or are you breaking new ground?

Kyriah: I am trying to break new ground. I was singing in church. My audience was mostly grannies (does a voice ”so sweet”). When I changed my style and message with tracks such as “Waiting For You” people my age started listening to my music. With “Turn Around”, my fan base has broadened to all age groups.

I am looking forward to the tour and looking to see how people are gonna feel. We will also do remixes, a southern African remix and another version with Magnum (West African artists) to be a part of the physical release of the single.

How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?

Kyriah: 23 and I don’t mind you asking.

For the guys out there, are you single?

Kyriah: I am, I am with God.

Which artists did you grow up listening to?

Kyriah: I listened to Aaliyah, Mary J Blige, Alicia keys, Mary Mary. I listened to hip hop. Snoop Dogg. I remember singing Gin and Juice. A lot of RnB, MASE, Puff Daddy. I used to mediate on music by the likes of Kiki Sheard & Hillsong.

And who is on your iPod right now?

Kyriah: I have a lot of African stuff, JJC Skillz. A lot of Jusa obviously, I am biased. A lot of Winky D, I don’t know why. I have got a lot of Gospel, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin. Donnie McClurkin. I listen to everything but if it has dirty lyrics I will switch it off. I liked it when Alicia Keys sung Super Woman. India Arie, is very good. I don’t have Beyonce on my iPod, i don’t have Lady Gaga. I am quite particular about lyrics.

Do you preach?

Kyriah: I do, preach. My pastor is about training up everyone in the church. I have to be in church. I preach to my friends. I try to practice what you preach (does a voice)

You are from Zimbabwe but live in Ireland, do you miss home a lot?

Kyriah: I miss home very much. I miss the land, the sunshine the culture. (There) I can let my son play outside, without having to watch him. Here in Ireland, He stays inside most of the time.

My grandmother is here with me and so is my mum. My brothers and sisters are in Zimbabwe but we communicate regularly. Ireland is good, not bad. It’s not as busy as in the UK. I live in the country, just outside Dublin. It’s calm. A lot of farmers and cows. It’s very quiet and, you know, very bad transport.

What languages do you speak?

Kyriah: Shona English, I try and speak French.

What is your favourite African dish?

Kyriah: I was going to saying Jollof rice. But since I am from Zimbabwe, I will say Sadza and Jollof rice. I have so many Nigerian friends. My pastor is Nigerian and every time she passes by, she drops me some Jollof rice.

And have you got a favourite Irish dish?

Kyriah: Oh gosh. Chips, No that’s not an Irish dish. Ha ha ha!

Which artists would you like to get into the studio and do a song with?

Kyriah: I would love to get in with Kirk Franklin. I am actually working on that (jokes), Papa San. Ummmm female artists, oh what’s her name again Dorinda Clark Cole. Her vocals are amazing. She is my role model.

What is your message?

Kyriah: Support the girl child network. Do not steal from me please, download the single legally on iTunes. Do not deprive the Girl Child Network of that 30%. My heart is really on that. I want people to support good music. Share the video link. More music this year

Thank you for doing this for us.

Kyriah: Thank you for bearing with my waffling.

Download “Turn Around” on iTunes

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