Sarah Kariuki is a recording artist and songwriter. She has recorded CD’s and DVD’s in English, Swahili and Kikuyu languages. Sarah performs gospel music songs and is a praise and worship leader. She embraces musical diversities as well as maintaining her Kenyan musical styles. Her music is broad and covers all aspects conducive to positive living. The songs are inspirational and motivating, and will encourage you to think about God’s salvation, his blessings to mankind and his majestic power.
Sarah’s music has been played on radio and television stations. She performs in churches, conferences, schools, crusades, open-air meetings, weddings, and other events. She has been instrumental in participating on musical events held in Canada, USA, Kenya, and other countries. At her musical performances, Sarah sings with so much energy that she is able to engage her audience in singing along. Her vision is to be an inspiration to many and encourage people through song.
I committed my life to Jesus Christ when I was in high school at the age of 16, while attending a high school camp, at Thika School for the Blind Kenya, which was organized by the Kenyan Christian Students Fellowship. While at the camp, students who had given their lives to Christ during the sessions were asked to present testimonies and I was one of them. I asked if I could sing a popular song I used to hear on the radio “Burden’s are Lifted at Calvary” by John Moore. It was my first time to stand before an audience to sing, and interestingly enough, as I was singing the song, it became very clear to me that I had a musical gift. From the feedback I received back from the audience, that song had really moved them, and since then, anytime I sing that song, it has always been an inspiration to the listeners. In the year, 2009, I was privileged to meet the song’s composer, John Moore and to lead the congregation in singing this song at a church he had been invited to, as a guest speaker.
I enjoy my daily Christian walks with the Lord, and my prayer is to remain deeply-rooted in his word. The Lord has promised to remain faithful, to keep me and sustain me for the glory of his name. I will move forward and promote the Christian Gospel Music for God’s glory. Ever since I was a high school student, I have always been involved with musical activities – be it in school, church, the community, or anywhere else, and, these experiences have continued to advance my musical talents. I learned a lot about music dynamics when I was singing in my church choir and from the music courses that I took at Daystar University, and I have continued to utilize these skills in my music ministry. I enjoy praise and worship that involves the audience’s participation and action. My musical activities have enhanced my gifts and talents and opened other doors for ministry. I receive invitations to sing in churches, schools, crusades, open-air meetings, weddings, on the radio and TV and other events.
I grew up in the Anglican Church (ACK St. Peter’s Church, Uthiru) and during my days as a KAYO member (Kenya Anglican Youth Organization), I sang a lot at youth meetings and I was always invited to many Anglican and Presbyterian churches, as a guest speaker. The greatest messages I chose to speak about and feature on, were: “How Much Are You Worth?” and “Making Choices”. I also spoke on some radio programs at Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) providing inspirational messages from God’s word. When I started performing, I sang in a group of four and we first called ourselves “The Reapers” but later changed the name to “The Sanctified Voices”. One day we were in the studio singing on a TV program and we were asked for the name of our group. We didn’t have one at that time and the name we came up with quickly was “the Reapers”. After several months, we felt we didn’t like that name and we came up with another name “The Sanctified Voices” and we all liked it better. As a group, we traveled to many places and had fun singing together.
I also backed up other professional artists on their musical projects and this enabled me to get to know what was going on in the music industry. As a very young artist, I met many people who liked my voice and were interested in recording and producing my music but I felt it was not the right time to work on those projects. I remember one weekend a producer took me to all the music studios in the city of Nairobi to select the one I would want to record my music from but still I felt it wasn’t the right time to record. This happened to me again with two other different producers who were interested in recording my music and again, I felt that was not the right time to work with them. That was a time when many young artists were taken advantage of and exploited by people if they were not aware of what was going on in the industry. It was also a time when the music industry was blooming. Most producers could not understand why I was refusing to accept the free ventures; however, I felt inclined to wait for the right moment and to work with the right people. Our choirmaster once told us that music never grows old; we all know that, as precious as real gold is, it has to be tested through fire, and the same case applies to us and our ‘precious’ gifts and talents, and some examples can be musical encounters for a recording artist. I thank God for the musical productions I have made so far, but my first priority and upmost desire is to sing under his anointing and to remain a person of integrity in the music ministry that others can emulate.
When I was a teenager in Kenya, I sang more often on the Joy Bringers’ Family and Sing & Shine programs. Some of the TV, radio programs, and FM stations that are playing my music are; KBC, Citizen, Kameme, Biblia Husema Studio, Waumini, Hope, Coro, Inoro, KISS, Nation, Easy, Classic, Baraka, Family, Fish, Milele, and others. In Canada, I have been featured on CTS TV, Café Streaming radio, CBC, and other FM & AM stations. In the United States of America, my music has been played on American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and I have had the privilege of being interviewed about my music.
Women groups are always organizing many activities and events that I am asked to sing in. I have had the privilege of meeting many great women who have been both role-models, and an inspiration to me. I am not only involved in music activities but I also volunteer in other community initiatives that promote the common good and well being of humanity. I have been involved in peace and conflict resolution activities. In 2008, I spearheaded the Girl-Child Kenya Project in Ontario to raise funds for constructing sanitary facilities for less privileged girl-schools in Northern Kenya. In that project, I worked in collaboration with the Girl Child Network Kenya Organization and Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (Ontario) and four different schools benefited from the project; I continue to support and to be involved in other charitable initiatives. As I sing and perform, I do embrace music diversity and I am still interested in maintaining my Kenyan musical roots.
I started writing songs when I was in primary school in fifth grade, and little did I know that I would some day, be a singer. My songwriting comes up naturally; I will start by humming a new tune that I haven’t sang or heard before and then I will insert words. The words might be from texts that I may have read from the Bible, day-to-day life experiences or what is going on in the society. Thereafter, when I have the time, I will sit down and write the musical lyrics and probably revise the tune in a way that it will inspire both the listener and the singer. Sometimes I do forget the original tune, but as long as I have the text, it is very easy to come up with a brand new tune. Other times, the newer tune ends up becoming much sweeter than the previous one. When I started writing songs, I used to find it challenging and difficult to come up with good lyrics but as I continue to do it often, it keeps on getting easier. It is always easier for me to write a good song at a place where it is quiet and there are no distractions. The very first song that I wrote is called “Binadamu Hatosheki”; it is on my first Swahili CD “Yesu Aniona”. It was drawn from a story narration that we dramatized in a school group activity project. The teacher had asked each group to prepare a Christian drama on godly contentment.
The first English song that I wrote is called “Do You Ever Wonder”, and it is on my English CD “One Step”. Do you ever wonder what other people think about you, that’s the question? I wrote this song when I was 18 years old, after I finished high school. I was contemplating on the way life can be challenging after high school once you are no longer under the care of your parents and one has to learn new responsibilities. I reflected on how sometimes we wear a plastic smile as though everything is going on well, yet no one knows that things are not well but only ourselves.
The first Kikuyu song that I wrote is called “Niki Giki Murata Wakwa” and it is on my Kikuyu CD “Ndombirwo Ngocage Mwathani”. ‘Niki Giki Murata Wakwa?’ is a question that I am asking my friends - what is it they are looking for from the world that they have not yet attained. I wrote this song when I was in high school. I was asked to accompany one of my school teachers to an event that she had been invited to, as a guest-speaker and I had to sing a song.
All the songs that I have written have a story behind them and I look forward to writing more stories and singing many more songs.
When I was growing up I always desired to play many kinds of instruments, but, the musical instrument that I loved so much to learn was the guitar. My church had two guitars that were only played by the men and they would not let the ladies touch them. After all, I think I was the only lady interested in playing the guitar then, but they would not let me. I kept asking them to teach me and they were not willing to show me, and even though I got frustrated, I never gave up. One man from my youth group, came up with an idea that I should get a piece of wood, the size of my arm, and draw six lines, then divide the lines into frets, exactly the way a guitar looks like, and use that piece of wood to practice at home until the day I will get a real guitar. We got the framework and prepared it accordingly. I had a basic book “Learn to Play the Guitar” that was given to me by a friend, and I used it to practice. I would look at the pictures from the book and try to place and move my fingers on the wood frame exactly the way they appeared on the book, and kept on moving my fingers. I would read, look at the pictures and then develop the movement. I practiced that often and I was able to move my fingers on the piece of wood without looking. And, this is how I taught myself how to play the guitar.
It took several years until one day, one of the youth leaders who was aware of my determination in playing the guitar, gave me one of the church guitars to use for practice and that was a prayer answered as I held the guitar for the first time. Those who knew how to play were still reluctant to teach me, but I continued to teach myself. I think probably because I was a female and the others who were playing the guitar in church were males is the reason why they were not taking me seriously. Later in life I was able to afford and bought myself my own guitar – a Yamaha and I love it. During my musical performances, I have come across men and young people whom I have inspired to start learning and playing the guitar, and most of them are very good guitarists today, even better than I am. I find it very encouraging when I see that my guitar learning efforts were not in vain since I have inspired some other people to play the instrument, and I have attended singing events where some of them have given testimonies that I either taught them or inspired them to play the guitar. I pray that more become inspired, not just men, but both women and children as well.
I am always amazed by the way God has given each one of us very spectacular and “unique” talents. My goal is to use my singing talent for his glory. Family, relatives, colleagues and friends always tell me to continue singing and I will keep on. Children, enjoy listening to my music, too, and I have written a song to inspire the young people which is on my English CD, and is called “One Step”. I always find that, whenever I perform and there are children in the audience, they come to me and tell me how they felt when I was singing and it’s always sweet to listen to these youngsters’ commentary.
“As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you” (1 John 2:27)