Gospel music industry in Rwanda: Where are we so far? And what are the challenges?

Gospel music in Rwanda is making progress. Over the years, more singers have been emerging, and more songs produced to worship God and to encourage believers in Jesus Christ.

Christian music has been around for sometime in the country. It can be traced to as back as the 1880s when missionaries taught music to their subjects.

For sometime, it seemed to lack recognition, and was being affected by issues related to limited financial resources.

Today, things have continued to evolve.

Gospel musicians are recording live music, hosting big concerts; in addition to having platform to protect their music for example, radios and TVs are giving airplay to the music.

The industry is characterised by a number of successes and opportunities.

However, there are some challenges too.

During RTV’s Sunday Live Show, some people with knowledge on the industry shared some views concerning the state of gospel music in the country.

The show hosted a panel made up of invitees including Pastor Godwin Mutagoma of New Jerusalem Church, Gospel Journalist Frederic Byumvuhore, and music producer Camarade who talked about a number of issues in the industry.

During the show, Producer Camarade said the industry is fairing well and there is zeal among the musicians despite the challenges they face for example inadequate resources,

“I thank the musicians. They have zeal. Someone can say they want to sleep in the studio trying to work, despite the situation they maybe facing in regard to inadequate resources,” he said.

“Some are not having a very nice financial life, but it doesn’t stop them from giving what they have (musically),” he said.

Gospel journalist Frederic Byumvuhore spoke about competition, as a good aspect in the industry – if it is done with the right motives of serving God.
“When you have more than one person doing the same work and serving the same society, competition can’t fail to be there. This is because the workers themselves are on different levels of knowledge of what they do, and therefore, those that are at lower levels need to look up to those that are higher and get encouraged to work harder in order to also attain such success,” he said.

“We sometimes think competition is bad. But it shows zeal. It is good to have zeal and work hard and learn from others when your motive is to serve God’s will, not promoting your own image,” he added.

Photo: RTV Sunday Live hosts (Julie,DJ Shawn, Becky), together with the invitees (Pastor Godwin, Producer Camarade and Frederic Byumvuhore) during a panel discussion.

Pastor Mutagoma talked about the proper way gospel musicians can minister to the Kingdom through music, and how they can make money from music.

For him, making money from gospel music is okay, but the first purpose is to bring people to the kingdom of God.

“There is gospel music that is done in form of evangelism to people to Jesus. And then,there is music done for those that are already saved so that they can rejoice,” he said.

“Musicians should be clear on what is the purpose of the Gospel music they are doing. Someone can choose to do gospel entertaining music for Christians, and he can make money from it. And there can be one that does music to bring souls to Christ, and so, making money is just an added benefit for him. Both are of these are okay. Musicians should be clear on what they are doing,” he said.

The hosts, Julie and Becky, in a group photo with the invitees, Producer Camarade, Frederic Byumvuhore and Pastor Godwin. All pictures by Stony Pictures