Willy Paul: This too will pass

Who is Willy Paul?

My name is Wilson Abubakar Radido. I’m 19 years old and the last born in a family of three children. My late father was half Tanzanian and half Kenyan while my mum is half Ugandan and half Kenyan.

I grew up in Area 3 of Mathare North. My dad was a carpenter and my mum used to work as a salonist before illness confined her to bed early this year. I dropped out of school last year while in Form Three and I have been supporting my family through my music.

That’s a big load to carry at such a young age, how do you cope?

I’m used to struggling. Even when my dad was alive we encountered a lot of struggles sometimes even going to bed hungry. My first-born brother is an Electrical Engineering graduate but he hasn’t been fortunate to get a job.

My younger brother was also supposed to join college this year but due to limited funds he is yet to. But despite the many challenges, we still manage to get by somehow.

A local magazine wrote that you get your clothes from abroad, how do you manage with so much on your plate?

It’s true that some of the clothes I wear in my videos are sourced from Atlanta but I owe that to an organisation which sponsors my music career.

Which organisation is that?

His name is Karanja. I met him in Mombasa during the recently concluded Groove Awards Tour.

So do you travel often to Atlanta to do your shopping?

No. Actually I have never been to Atlanta. He just sends me the stuff. Of course not all my clothes are from outside the country. I also shop locally.

Speaking of which, you seem to have a very deep Tanzanian accent in your songs, does that have anything to do with your middle Muslim name?

My middle name has been in our family for many generations. I should mention, no one in our family is a Muslim so it has nothing to do with religion.

As for the Tanzanian accent, I’ve grown up my entire life in Kenya so it also doesn’t have anything to do with nationality.

I was a fan of Bongo music for a long time so when I decided to sing Gospel, God told me in a dream that that is the style I should use. After praying about it I was able to put together some lyrics then I hit the studio.

How did you end up doing a collabo with Gloria Muliro?

I felt she was the only artiste who could blend with my unique style. She actually wrote her own lyrics.

So you did the song, it was an instant hit then you started quarrelling over money. What was that about?

I’d rather not talk about that. It’s in the past now. Yes, I had some issues with her about the song but we sorted all that and arrived at a 50-50 split on all revenue from the song. We Gospel artistes always resolve our issues amicably.

Tell us about Pendo…
What about her? I don’t know her. The first time I saw that lady was at the Kisima Awards gala night. She walked up to me while I was in the company of J.

Blessing who has been a mentor and a friend to me and asked if she could take a photo on the red carpet with me. I obliged assuming she was just being an enthusiastic fan. I was quite flattered actually. The next thing I’m seeing all this stuff about me and her in the media.

Are you denying that you and her had something going on? Because she seems to be telling a completely different story.

That’s all just childishness. I’m not bothered because I know it will soon pass. Such things cannot bring me down.

What about the allegations she has made that you asked for some money from her and offered to take her on a trip to Limuru? Apparently she even has text messages to prove it.

Those are merely rumours. I leave it all to God.

But why would anyone go through the trouble of making all that up?

Haters. That’s the only explanation. But I don’t care. Even if the devil himself tried to derail my efforts to serve the Lord, I would not allow him to succeed. They may try but they will never prevail.

Aren’t you worried about the message this sends about you and the impact it may have on your music career?

My image has already been tarnished. But God is beside me. I don’t want to talk about that any more.

Are you saved?

Yes I am. I got saved when I was in Form 1.

What does being saved mean to you?

It’s about walking in the light and respecting God’s will. It’s about following the teachings of the church and practising what I preach. It’s how I carry myself.

What’s your next move?
I’m working on my new song titled “You never know” which will be out later this month. It’s about life and the fact that despite what you experience today you never know what tomorrow may bring.