Eric Mashukano is a gospel music promoter and founder of Moriah Entertainment Group that is behind the success of some of the big gospel acts in the country.
He shared his 12-year experience and contribution to the industry.
Tell us how you first began promoting music.
I began in 2006. I was a young university student and passionate about music, but being a Christian I was more drawn towards gospel music. At the time, I was working with the creative industry, and comparing secular music to gospel music proved that there were loopholes in Christian music, in terms of professionalism.
It became a burden to take gospel music in this country to higher standards. I started out with gospel singer Aline Gahongayire when she still had raw talent and we have worked together ever since.
Along the journey, many more artistes joined us and we partnered with churches to promote their music using technology and through concerts. In 2009, Moriah entertainment was founded, after we realised that artistes can profit from their music if done professionally.
Who are some of the artistes that you have worked with?
Moriah entertainment works with all artistes, church ministries and choirs but there are some artistes that we work closely with. They include Aline Gahongayire, Gaby Kamanzi, Aime Uwimana, Serge Iyamuremye, Fanny Wibabara, Luc Buntu, Fortran Bigirimana, among others.
How can you describe your experience in the Christian music industry?
I have seen the industry improving its standards tremendously. We had to look for a common ground to help gospel musicians do music and promote it without compromising their faith. The art of doing music professionally like secular artistes yet still spiritually stable is no easy task.
Another challenge is promoting our top gospel artistes internationally, to pave way for upcoming artistes.
What would you say is really exciting about the gospel music scene in Rwanda?
It has improved tremendously because gospel singers are moving with the times. The industry is becoming more professional and gospel music is selling in the country thanks to the support from the church.
We are currently moving from a place where the music not just blesses Christians but the artiste too when done more skillfully. We also have artistes who perform in other countries and our aim now is for our artistes to feature other Christian singers so they can carry the message of the gospel to other countries.
What are some of your other plans as a gospel music promoter?
Moriah Entertainment is a gospel artistes’ and events management company that deals with churches, gospel artistes, ministries, and media with entirely Christian values.
Our vision is to see all those platforms move forward and our mission is to create platforms, that are not church-based, where Christians can serve God through art and entertainment, as one of the ‘seven mountains of influence’ in the Christian faith, where we are positioned.
We are currently working with gospel artistes on their annual projects like Gahongayire’s national music tour, and Bigirimana’s ‘Fragrance of Worship’ show.
We will soon introduce a new bi-monthly platform, the Ikuzo experience, aimed at giving a chance to gospel singers to minister and showcase their talents, especially the upcoming ones.
What can you say is inspiration behind the annual ‘Fragrance of Worship’ music show?
‘Fragrance of Worship’ is a vision of one of our artistes, Fortran Bigirimana, and is an annual project that aims at bringing big international gospel singers to Rwanda and Burundi. It began last year with some big francophone artistes like Olivier Cheuwa and musical couple Chris and Laura Christensen.
The second edition is slated for July 1 and the vision is to expand it to other countries. We will be introducing it in Belgium in September this year. The event also brings together worship leaders for an ultimate worship experience.
We want the platform to profit the local audience which is why we include local gospel singers, and we conduct a worship workshop so our local artistes can learn from international singers.
By The New Times’ Sharon Kantengwa