Called to worship is a segment on my blog that highlights the lives and ministries of worship leaders who are making an impact in Kenya, Africa and beyond. The idea is to interact with worship leaders whose faith and stories inspire us to be better ministers. Here is my interview with George Omolo Dulo on songwriting with excellence.
At first glance, George Dulo, worship minister at Nairobi Chapel-Ongata Rongai, comes off as a soft spoken man, but a few minutes with him betrays his deep love for God, community and excellence in song writing. George has written songs like Wewe watosha and Mwanzo na Mwisho, songs that are currently being used in corporate worship and are in fact, anthems in many churches in Nairobi. Here is my interview with him.
Nita: How long have you been leading worship?
From high school…that’s close to over twenty years. Before that I used to be part of small groups at church and part of a choir.
Nita: How did your music journey begin?
I gave my life to Christ in 1991 but I wasn’t singing then. I actually started off preaching, but in high school, I started singing. I was part of the drama club and I would be asked to take part in musicals and things like those. I started off by singing in the background as other people acted and went on to acting and singing at the same time. There are things I learned like projection, my weaknesses and how a dump room can affect your voice.
Later, after high school, I joined a group called the Nakuru Praise Team and started singing with them. After that I came to campus. I joined friends of mine who were musicians and started singing. There was a student fellowship that used to happen on Thursday’s and after the fellowship we would stay on and just randomly do songs…whatever songs came to mind. I used to write lyrics before when I was in high school, but I never knew that I would take this up and start singing songs I had written.
Nita: Is music your full-time job?
No, it is not a full-time job. It’s something that I have also struggled with. For a long time I looked at music as something I wasn’t supposed to do. I was born in Mombasa and where I lived there were music bands whose members used to live in the same neighborhood as myself. There was a group called Safari sounds and Them Mushrooms. We would play with some of these people’s kids.
I used to perceive musicians as carefree, wearing dreadlocks and saw myself as easily drifting off and didn’t want to adopt a different personality because I am a musician. I don’t know if my family would live with me if I became like that. I have an album but it took me long because I was struggling with “Am I supposed to be going into music full-time or not?” What I do now is I’m an emergency nurse, that’s my specialty. I also teach- we offer national higher diplomas for students in the school of nursing at Kenyatta National Hospital.
Nita: Some of your songs are being sung in corporate worship, tell us more about this.
After high school, I met with some friends of mine and started writing some of these lyrics. When I was joining campus I felt like there was a period I went through and some of the songs I wrote then are finding their way into mainstream church music. When I was part of Salt (Serving a Living Transformer) we used to write music with some friends of mine. We would share some of the songs we had written with Nairobi Chapel for their recordings.
Being at the Chapel I felt like there was a place for me to express my gift in community, but also to people who would appreciate the way I was doing music. Some of that music was released then, but it seems to be getting to churches, I would say over ten to fifteen years later. I never thought my songs would go as far as they have. It was never at the back of my mind.
Nita: What has your reaction been to this kind of reception?
I get lost more in the worship and then you have friends who tell you “that’s your song!”…but then you think “Is that really my song?” Because I have come to appreciate the place of sharing the music in community.
Nita: What’s the inspiration behind your music?
Scripture, experiences and being around good musicians.
Nita: Any advice for emerging songwriter’s?
Be wrapped around God, wrapped around his word and a community of believer’s who are rooted in the word.
Nita: What’s the name of your album, how much is it and where can one get it?
Good Ground, and I sell it at my church for 500 KES.
What are you listening to?
Joyous celebration, Tye Tribbett, classical music…
What are you reading?
The grace of giving by Oliver Kisaka Simiyu
Listen here to some of George Dulo’s music.