INVADING a star-studded, talent-filled gospel music industry which boasts of the likes of Rose Muhando, Bahati Bukuku just but to mention a few and leaving an indelible mark is not easy but can only be done by an exceptionally talented and devoted person with an insatiable appetite to conquer.
This rightly applies to Saphina Abraham, a renowned gospel musician whose advent into the industry was not only historic but catapult her to unassailable levels. Those who have had the opportunity to listen to her music will confess that the lady possesses unique talent that can take her to the promised land.
In a field that has been invaded by some unscrupulous artists who hide behind the word to eke a living, the songbird, a born again Christian has only one aim -- to preach the word of God.
“I sing the word of God and I don't sing stories from magazines. I encourage and worship God as well as prophesying through music,” said the soft spoken Saphina in an interview recently.
This is evident in her bible-rich lyrics that have irresistible impact on listeners who are not only left yearning for more but singing a different tune all together. The irresistible forces of the music would have changed them.
Born Saphina Abraham Maluli on May 8, 1983, in Iringa District, the musician has a natural talent that has made it easier for her to invade the music circles and make her presence felt as most of her songs have been rocking Bongoland's music airwaves for a long time now.
In a quest to conquer the world and define her destiny, Saphina enrolled at Ilula Primary School in Iringa where she did her primary education before moving to Tepas Secondary School in Dar es Salaam for her secondary education.
The first born in a family of six children, Saphina like any other born musician started singing at a very tender age. She recalls singing when she was seven years old at church.
“ I was born in a Christian family and I started singing at the age of seven while I was still a member of the Sunday school. Later on I discovered that I had the talent and I developed a zeal to sing and become a successful musician,” says the musician.
Having discovered her talent, Saphina, a member of the Living Faith Church popularly known as Winner's Chapel, joined several musical groups where they sang during events such as parties, church gatherings and so on.
In her road to stardom, the ever smiling musician joined Namusho musical group that was based in Temeke before severing ties to join Dominion Praise Band.
As if that was not enough she has been a member of the Winner's Voices Choir (Winner's Chapel Church Choir) for a long time. Because of her abundant talent, she rose through the ranks to become a praise leader at her church.
“ All these experiences have come in handy for me as after realising that I had enough experience and ammunition, I decided to record my debut album in 2005,” she adds.
According to her, the coming on of her debut marked a turning point as it sent warning messages to the industry that a star was in the making.
The eight track album entitled Acheni Mwenzenu Niseme was an instant hit when it was released and the title track that proved a darling of many music fans is rich in message.
The singer in this song speaks of God's goodness, who raises the poor from the dust. She also praises God for uplifting people and praising Him for His greatness.
Another song that failed to go unnoticed was Amesikia Kilio Changu, in which the musician thanks the Lord for hearing her grievances. The song highlights God's goodness and how He listens to people who seek Him.
“The album was well received though as musicians we always aim higher. I have decided to move on and I have produced my second album that I will be launching soon. I have also completed the production of my DVD album for my debut album and it is already in the market but I am planning to launch it at the same time with my second album,” says Saphina.
The second album, entitled Mungu Utanitembelea – literally translated means God will visit me, is also an eight track album and just like the first one is a scorcher and a must have for gospel music lovers.
In the title track, the musician prays to God for Him to visit her early so that He perfects all things that concern her.
“I was just reminding God of His promises,” she adds.
The other songs penciled to change the landscape of gospel music in the country are Wazidi Wakuitavyo and Nimekukimbilia Bwana, just but to mention two. What is different with Saphina's music is that her songs are not about the bible but she sings the bible.
On the problem of piracy that has crippled our arts industry in this country, Saphina bemoaned the existence of this hideous social anomaly describing it as a threat to the industry.
“I have seen people with my music on their phones, computers and so on who would not have given me anything. This is a disadvantage to us since the people entrusted on safeguarding our rights are doing nothing about it,” says the songbird.
“COSOTA, an organisation formed by the government to protect our rights, they say they are doing something to stop the rot but we haven't seen their efforts or results because music is being pirated everyday. I think government is the only solution. The government has the means to help us and we are waiting upon them to act and help us.”
She also does not have kind words for music distributors who for a longtime have been blamed for exploiting musicians.
“Distributors are riping us off. They can duplicate our music and sell it without our knowledge. At the end of the day we will be working for them. The percentage they give us is not encouraging and is more of enslaving us than a fair deal,” adds Saphina.
She however, pointed out that musicians should unite and fight this social rot. Without unity, she said, the musicians will continue being exploited.
The musician, who is currently studying towards a Diploma in Counseling at Eaglewings College in the city,took time to encourage those up and coming musicians and those who are planning to venture into the field to do so.
“I encourage anyone who wants to venture into music to do so. We are many but everyone is gifted in his or her own way and the market is wide so don't be afraid,” she says.
The musician castigated those who venture into gospel music for money wondering where they get their lyrics if they are not born again Christians.
Beside being talented she is a down to earth person. Her humility has seen her staging many live shows during weddings, parties, church events such as crusades.
“I believe my duty is to preach the word through music and for me to do that, many people request me to sing during their weddings, parties and so on. I have and will always be ready to sing for anyone anywhere because it gives me the opportunity to preach the word.”
It is against this background that she did not only stage shows in most parts of this country but has extensively performed in Kenya. She is also planning to hold shows in DRC and Swaziland later this year.
The musician has paid tribute to her sisters who always accompany her and are her backing vocalists whenever she stages live shows. With the aid of the natural talent she possesses, Saphina is destined for grater heights.
And she rightly says: “To me, only the sky is the limit.”