Catherine Kawawa’s paycheck


The hope, for the most part, is that money flows naturally. I mean, if one is creative enough to compose songs, they must, surely, have sticky pockets that can attract money from all over the place.
It follows, therefore, that because people think that nothing is out of the reach of artists— who, traditionally, are considered the lynchpin of everything creative— artists who cry foul over exploitation are sometimes regarded as unreasonable.
This line of thinking could, perhaps, be to blame for creating a tableau of bliss in the creative industry, when the truth is that this is not always the case.
Which is why people have to work hard— sometimes sweating blood— to get a fat cheque in the creative industry.
Maybe gospel artist Catherine Kawawa had a real picture of the situation when she decided to dedicate her life to God through music.
After all, she did not just start from the top, but had to start from the ground, working with this artist or that. I am talking of artists who were relatively established the time she decided to venture into the music industry. Even when she did not participate in events as the headliner— getting, instead, satisfied by any role relatively established artists could throw at her— those in the audience could not escape the impact of her contribution in their lives.
I say so without fear of contradiction because, once or twice, I happened to be part of the audience when Kawawa backed Favoured Martha at one point in time; before I happened to be where Maggie Pangani was having a performance and Kawawa had to, as I knew better, back her.
Surely, both cases qualified for those moments when people lead from the back, stealing the show from those who attract all the cameras because they are the main actors.
Which was not bad because, if she were someone else, Catherine, [who at the time of making her foray into music had a close relationship with money, having served as payroll officer at G4S] would have let the sadness that clouded her life after her father’s [Mr Kananji] death in 1999 distract her from her goals.
You know how, sometimes, people are taken aback when they lose those they care for.
But Catherine, surely, encouraged by the light that is Jesus Christ, moved on with life.
In her faith, she started backing the likes of Favoured Martha and Maggie Pangani while learning the ropes.
And, then, boom! She rushed to the studio, where she started recording the album Afuna Iwe.
The album went to the market, tasting the waters I should say. Maybe weeks went; no real income.
A month. The money not coming.
Which is contrary to the perceptions of some people, who feel, as I said earlier, that artists can do anything— even when what they have to do is out of their power.
Take, for example, someone who releases an album. They expect to get something because, in the end, they eat and drink and hope and dream. Like us.
And sometimes the money does not come as expected; or when we want it.
Catherine waited.
And, then, boom! She started selling CDs of the album Afuna Iwe. She kept on hoping for the best; for a sunny day.
And, then, as she said [herself] on January 20 2013, when she was 34, she wanted to shed the tears of joy when she counted money she had in her hands and discovered that it amounted to K40, 000. The first chunk of money from her first album.
Her efforts had paid off.
No wonder, it was a happy moment; moment of relief, for there is more work ahead.
Her happiness lied in the fact that, with patience, she had waited and waited, until she saw the burden of anxiety laid down forever, under the ‘heavy’ weight of a bunch of notes amounting to K40, 000.
And K40, 000 was a lot of money then!

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