With the annual Christians pilgrimage, Easter, which seeks to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ approaching next week, many disciples such as Alan Ranthepa, affectionately known as Alan Kay are busy gearing up to praise Him (God) and celebrate his revered name with both song and dance.
Alan Kay, real name Keikanne Alan Ranthepha is driven by passion to praise and worship God. He is a stout praise and worshipper with two gospel albums under his belt and a wealth of experience in the music industry. The Sefhope-born and bred lad wants nothing but to inspire ordinary men and women, young and old to come closer to God through his genuine ministry of Praise and Worship. Another thing that got clearer during the chat was that his music is not only centred on contemporary gospel but has fused other genres and musical elements; which in turn made it unique and audibly attractive.
It comes as no surprise that the smooth crooner has won the Best Contemporary Gospel Award in 2015 during the annual BOMU Music Awards. Born on April 9, the Aries man said he has had a turbulent childhood after losing his father while he was still an infant and being raised solely by his mother, who at all times insisted a devotion to the Lord.
He said his mother insisted that he became well versed in the Christian faith from his earliest years and not only thrived spiritually in the church environment; he also displayed talents, which included poetry, piano playing and singing. “I grew up listening to Dipina le Maboko program on Radio Botswana One (RB1) and I was inspired by the various instruments which our musicians played on the show and that really nurtured me musically,” he explains.
Recognizing Alan’s artistic anointing, his then church elders at the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM), allowed him to minister in the praise and worship at the tender age of 15 years while he was still at Matshekge Senior Secondary School. He said it was at the same school that he developed a love for the piano, his gateway instrument into the world of professional music. He was to later hone his skills in the church’s praise and worship team and as they say the rest is history…
How would you describe yourself and where were you born?
I was born and raised in a village called Sefhophe in the land of Batalaote. I prefer to describe myself as a simple and calm person.
What’s sets you apart?
My name Alan Kay, and some people think I am a foreigner.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
If you are born poor it’s not your mistake, but if you die poor it’s your mistake, one of my favourite quotes by Bill Gates. It pushes me to work very hard every day of my life.
What do you listen to or do when you are looking for inspiration?
I listen to gospel music. I love music because as the Bible states love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about you?
I don’t like being shouted at and looked down upon.
What can’t you live without? How many of you are there in your family? Are you first born or last born? Tell me a little bit about your family?
I can’t live without Christ in my life as He is the pillar of my strength. I am born in a family of 7 and I am the 2nd born. Apart from my Sefhophe family, I have my own Dominion-wife and two sons.
Who and what inspired you to become a Gospel singer?
As a Christian the teachings and opulence of Christ inspired me to sing and record Gospel music. I believe I was fulfilling scriptures where the Bible instructs that the gospel need to be preached to all humankind. As such being an embodiment of Christianity urged me to partake. I have two studio albums, ‘Saved by Grace’ and ‘My Testimony’. The latter won the Annual BOMU Best Contemporary Gospel Award in 2015.
I am currently working on my Neo Soul single title #RatoLame to be released in a few weeks’ time. The upcoming album is heavily based in soul music, neo soul is distinguished by a less conventional sound than its contemporary R&B counterpart, with incorporated elements ranging from jazz, funk, hip hop and electronic to pop, fusion and African music. It has been noted by music writers for its traditional R&B influences and conscious-driven lyrics.
How did your first music big break come about?
When I started to be a recording artist. Most of the time I have been a backup singer and a secessionist. So recording made me up my game in the industry because there are instances where I get criticism to perfect my art.
Who is your role model and why?
My mother, because she has been there for me from day one. For your own information my next single after #RatoLame will be about her and a profound dedication to her.
How do you communicate with people? Are you patient? Are you friendly? How open are you to clients’ requirements?
I believe I am a people’s person which has been much influenced by my professional academic qualifications and my work experience in the field of Public Relations (PR). I have been working with people all my life and that has mentored me into a friendly and accommodating individual. As such I have a lot of friends out there. I am very open to client’s requirements because I believe I have been made to serve people, of course within professional boundaries.
Do you eat nutritiously? How often do you exercise or go to the gym?
I try to eat nutritiously but it is not easy particularly due to the kind of industry I am in which entails lot of travel and engagements. However, I do have a gym routine – thrice a week. I also wish to build some packs you know.
Do you have any limitations? Would you pose naked for the cover of a magazine for instance?
Of course yes. That is because of my Christian principles and being a married chap I will not pose naked for the cover of any magazine.
What has been your biggest or favourite highlight of your life or career so far?
It’s when I won the Annual BOMU Best Contemporary Gospel Award in 2015. I was so excited because it was the very first time I participated in the awards and I won. Subsequent to this victory, I started getting recognition and my music also got the deserved airplay even in neighboring countries.
What other exciting gigs have you been involved with in the past?
Being part of Remmogo Allstars campaign song ‘Tsaya Tshweetso’ has given me some recognition as I had a chance to share the studio and stage with famous artists like Tshepo Lesole, MMP Family, Lizibo, Dramaboi, T.H.A.B.O., HT, Franix, Ghavorr and Kagiso Morebodi. I also got so fulfilled because it was a project that was combatting some social ills within our communities like, HIV & AIDS, Drugs and substance abuse.
Which countries have you travelled to so far, courtesy of your work and which ones were your favourite?
I been to a lot of countries across Africa such as South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe to name but a few. Outside the African continent, I have been to United Arab Emirates (UAE), Asia, and Toronto Canada in North America. Of all, my favourite has been Toronto Canada because of it’s ethnically diversity – it’s a conglomeration of traditions, languages and music. It is a city of many museums, theatres, festivals, events and recreational activities.
How do you handle the pressure that comes with your work?
By planning ahead of time and having a program to follow on a daily basis.
What excites you the most about being in the limelight/celebrity?
I connect easily with people because they would have seen me somewhere in this showbiz industry.
Life would be simpler if…
Love prevailed amongst all humanity.
What’s your typical weekday schedule?
I wake up and exercise a bit, prepare myself for the day, drop my sons at school and proceed to work till I retire for the day back home. On certain days when I have musical bookings after my corporate hours of 8-5, I do some rehearsals in the evenings.
And your typical weekend?
More gym and I also attend some social events. Weekends are also bonus days for my family time.
What are your favourite out-of-town escapades; tell us where do you usually go to and why?
Sefhophe my home village. That’s where my roots are, I feel complete when I am down there meeting family and relatives, village elders, old friends and people I grew up with.
Where do you enjoy shopping?
I’m usually not specific on that area, I shop anywhere as long as the products are my taste and accommodate my budget.
What superhuman power would you most like to have?
The power of liberation – for the benefit of peace and harmony in people’s lives.
Something that no one knows about me is…
I am very emotional.
My motto is…
Don’t insult the crocodile before you cross the river.
My simplest pleasure is…
From Zero to Hero – seeing a hard worker rising through the ranks of success.
My guiltiest pleasure is…
Borrowing somebody’s great idea to my benefit.
The craziest fashion trend I have ever followed…
What celebrity crushes did you have as a teenager?
By then we did not have the understanding of a celebrity crushes, but instead we envied blockbuster singers or actors. So I can’t single out one.
My biggest regret…
Forgetting lyrics whilst on stage performing.
Before I die, I’d like…
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest summit in Africa and appreciate the creation of God.
What surprises you most about adult life?
You always have to think outside the box to make ends meet.
My proudest moment was…
Being a father. I also believe that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother wholeheartedly.
What made you decide to study whatever you studied?
I like working with people and being the mouth piece of whichever establishment.
What’s been your worst-ever career disaster?
When I joined the military thinking it’s a bed of roses only to find totally the opposite. I later embraced my decision, carried along to serve with love and precision and I am very proud to have been part of such an entity.
What’s been your biggest life lesson in your career?
Team work always wins.
Rodizio, because I love meat though I am trying all my best to cut my meat intake.
What’s your grooming regime/routine?
A clean-shaven head (letwadi), smart shave and of course the smell of a nice scent.
Your favourite fashion designers? Which ones have you worked with both locally and internationally?
This is truly one area I would like to support. I have supported Urban Soul in a number of my outfits and currently looking for one to work hand in hand with full time.
What are you listening to right now? Do you have a favourite Botswana artist; African artist and international artist?
Locally I am listening to Lizibo, Han-C and other locals. Internationally, I play a lot of Tiwa Savage, Boyz 2 Men, Afrotraction, Naima Kay, Julian Vaughn, Joe Mettle, Norman Brown, Kirk Franklin etc. I am diverse, so I listen to most genres.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing Botswana and Africa right now?
Financial ruin – Botswana and Africa are being taken over by the Whites in all aspects of financial muscle, it feels like Colonialism is starting all over again.
Do you support any charities or NGOs?
Not yet but looking around to engage myself on such.
What does it mean to be a Motswana?
A proud symbol of empathy, peace and botho.
What’s your message to Batswana, especially the youth?
Education is the key, above all identify your passion and work around it to a point that it will improve the life of you and your neighbor.
Which international superstar would you like to work with and why?
Tiwa Savage, a Nigerian singer, songwriter, performer and actress. She is such an inspiration- hard worker and her dedication has truly paid off. She gives herself in whatever she does. She simply knows what she is doing.
Which African role model do you look up to?
Strive Masiyiwa – a London-based Zimbabwean businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
Do you have any last words?
Only you understands and know yourself. Don’t live by others, do the best out of what God has made you.