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Bahati and Willy Paul Groove Awards lockout has tongues wagging

Award-winning gospel music sensations Willy Paul and Bahati are not new to controversial stories that make headlines.

And so, after the two were locked out of the biggest gospel award show in Kenya, the Groove Awards, it was not much of a shocker when they again set social media ablaze.

The young musicians were conspicuously missing from the nominees list over what many presume to be questionable misconduct and not leading a Christian life.

Further, fans, especially on social media, are uncertain whether their music, more so Willy Paul’s (real names Abubakar Radida Opondo), could really be categorised as gospel.


But according to Kevin Bahati, popularly known as Bahati, that notion is pure hogwash.

“I’m saved and Jesus Christ is my saviour; the fact that I was not nominated does not mean my music isn’t that great,” said Bahati. “I’m past the Groove Awards, which means I’m growing, and my fans, who are very loyal, see that I’m moving towards new levels in my music.

“God is promoting me.”

The Itakua Sawa singer, who was not in the running for any award, said: “I wasn’t expecting a nomination because I never submitted any of my songs.

“I was not even at this year’s Groove Camp, although Willy Paul was there. I’ve won the awards two years in a row. I’m now giving a chance to the young, upcoming artistes; otherwise, I would have won.”

Starting soon, fans might no longer see stories about the dreadlocked star.

“From this year henceforth, I do not want to be compared to anyone,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons why I haven’t been giving interviews.

“I represent a crowd that is mature. I want to be different. Bahati isn’t all about Groove.”


For him, rumours about not living a Christian life are false. Bahati said he was focusing his time and attention on mentoring upcoming musicians rather than award nominations.

“I believe I’m past it,” he said. “I’m now mentoring artistes.

“I’m at peace with it. It’s time I let other people grow, because it will help them. If I won it this time, I don’t believe it would help me that much. I already won four awards and my songs top the Skiza tunes.

“My calling right now is to be a role model and that’s what I’m focusing on. That’s what’s keeping me here. I don’t want to be involved in drama anymore. I want to make gospel music big in Africa, so watch this space.”

Last year, there were allegations that Willy Paul had plagiarised Bahati’s song that he went ahead to re-record with the same producers.

Willy Paul consequently claimed Bahati made those allegations as a stunt to win last year’s Groove Awards. Calls to Willy Paul however went unanswered.

Andrew Alovi, a member of the nomination panel, said it could have been any one number of reasons why the two stars missed out on the nominees list but clarified that “it’s not in our place to expose the reasons”.