In Summary
  • The work environment and the pay were good, but it took a lot of effort from me to keep my head in the game. I decided to take the jump — to quit and pursue music full time.
  • My parents gave me four months to figure things out, [failing which] I would go back into the corporate world. I had no plan whatsoever.

  • After a month of staying home, I received a call asking me to audition as a singer in an opera.

Maryolive Mungai developed a deep love for classical music after high school. As she puts it, she fought to have music as her career of choice for a long time.

The 31-year-old talks to the Saturday Nation about chasing her dreams. She also fills us in on her upcoming recital, “Faces Of Love”, which takes place on Sunday tomorrow at Kenton College in Nairobi.

SORE THUMB

“I’m a lover of life, music and art. I’m also a thespian, though the last film or theatre production I participated in was a long while back. But to me, classical music is acting as well because we are telling stories through melody and emotions.

Growing up, I always loved music, especially rock and RnB. Classical music came to me much later, when I had just finished high school in 2007. My friend introduced me to the choir at the Nairobi Music Society. I was hesitant at first because the classical genre just didn’t sit right by me. But I signed up immediately I heard the choir sing.

I started singing with the choir more frequently, up until I met my voice teacher, Nancy Day, helped me discover my voice, open up and explore the classical scene. The first two years of my vocal studies featured pop music, interestingly.

One day, Ms Day randomly said, ‘Hmm. You have a really interesting voice. Why don’t we try classical music?’ And I was scared because all I had practised in my life was pop and RnB. We gave it a shot anyway and it was definitely awkward. (Laughs). It is a very interesting technique and it took a year for everything to set in and make sense.

Doing something that is not very common makes you stand out like a sore thumb, so I soon started getting calls asking me to perform at different gigs. I started performing a lot through the Kenya Conservatoire of Music.

UNHAPPY

I paid for my classes for a while, but it became too expensive for me. I was studying actuarial science at the University of Nairobi at the time, and my parents were not as supportive at the time.

I stopped the classes altogether. Unbelievably, the director offered me a full scholarship at the institution, and this really fuelled my growth in music. I was able to do the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) examinations and exposed to more concerts. I’m eternally grateful to them.

Sooner than later, I completed my degree and joined the corporate world. It really was not for me, and I came to realise how unhappy I was a year and a half later in 2012. The work environment and the pay were good, but it took a lot of effort from me to keep my head in the game. I decided to take the jump — to quit and pursue music full time.

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