Written by Phanice Chepkemoi
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Members of the Chuytayeet Choir, formerly Lutheran Church Choir Kopsiro. Photo | Phanice Chepkemboi
Few people might recognize the name Chuytayeet Choir, formerly Lutheran Church Choir Kopsiro, but the name of the groups’ lead singer, composer, soloist and bukaantiit player- Silas Kiprop arap Chai , or simply Chai most definitely doesn’t escape the mind of any keen Sabaot music enthusiast.
I had a chance to speak with Mr.Chai who revealed a lot concerning the group.
“The choir was formed in 2003, under the name Lutheran Church Choir, by members of the church from Kopsiro, recently it was registered as a self help group and renamed Chuytayeet,” Chai told West Fm.
The group, is made up of 20 people, but has 16 active members, and has produced two volumes and a dozen singles of Christian songs.
“Apart from gospel songs we also sing educative songs. We have composed hits that encourage people to take children to school, educating the masses about H.I.V and AIDS and also songs urging the residents to live in peace. We sing in Sabaot and Swahili,” Chai said.
As expected with large teams, there is problem with managing a team of many members. I ask if they experience any problem with members and Chai, a tenor singer, replies to the affirmative.
He says at times turn out for practice sessions is low because members of the choir group are committed elsewhere for most of them are family people and that some of the group members get disgruntled when they fail to travel to perform in far places.
Silas Kiprop arap Chai
“We have a very big problem with travelling and transport. There is a time we were called to perform in Kapchorwa Uganda, and due to logistics, four of us had to attend the function. It naturally did not go well with some members, who felt they could have also gone for the gig,” he affirms.
Apart from performing in Uganda, Chuytayeet choir has sung before audiences in Kakamega, Kitale, Bungoma, Kapenguria and almost everywhere in the Mt.Elgon Region.
Some of the V.I.P’S who have been entertained by the choir include former President Daniel arap Moi, the late Prof. George Saitoti, Eldoret North Mp William Ruto during the launch of Sabaot Bible among an array of others.
He tells me that they perform at weddings, bashes and funerals most times voluntarily, especially at home.
“We once received Ksh.24, 000 after performing in a cultural day, that was the highest amount of money we ever got paid. Divide that by the members and see how much each gets,” offers Chai.
“At home here we get paid in blessings and complements from people who are impressed or touched by our songs, if the complements and praises persons heap on us were riches, we could be very rich,” jokes the musician.
And for sure I counted more than five people who approached us, where we were seated, each thanking and praising the group leader for singing so well the previous day in a meeting that was graced by George Saitoti in Kopsiro.
Chai who enjoys listening to Anthony Kimmetto- a celebrated Kalenjin musician- songs and Tanzanian gospel music hits, says the written word of the Bible, inspires him. He reveals that he miraculously comes up with an original tune and then takes it to members who modify it.
The group has done one powerful song, that talks about the chronology of the orgy of violence in Chebyuk at the height of the Sabaot Land Defence Forces madness, entitled Sayeet ak Riiraak (prayer and tears).
Those who have listened to the song, that gives the history of the war, mentioning how it spread from Chebyuk to Trans-Nzoia and the names of those who lost their lives, have been moved to tears.
They have also done collaborations with other artists including Lydia Sabila Ngania aka Cheptabkoreet and Nomorio A.I.C choir.
According to Chai, they have never shot videos of their songs but they are planning to release one.
“We wish to put our songs in video and CD’s because now they are in cassettes. God willing we will also own musical instruments and equipments: guitars, keyboards speakers and microphones. Lastly we hope in the next 5 years to have our music store where people will get our music in the major towns near Mt.Elgon.”
“It’s the wish of Chuytayeet choir group members to reach out to many people as possible with their touching songs and gospel message, but I establish that they do not have the ability,” says Chai.
“I appeal to those inspired by our songs, our fans to come and help us broadcast the word of God, entertain, educate and inform our people,” he added.
“Let Sabaots’ love us, by supporting us, through buying our music so that we are also known like other kalenjin musicians. Let Sabaots’ advertise our music and even invite us to functions wherever they are.” Chai concluded.
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