At 22 years of age, Christian Ishimwe is among the youngest music producers in the country. Chrisau, as he is fondly called, is the music director at The Prayer House youth ministry in Kicukiro. He is also the music producer at Fourth Man Records, a new gospel music label that was launched by The Prayer House last Sunday.
As music director, he is in charge of The Prayer House’s three bands –The Prayer House band, Beauty For Ashes, and Alive and Free.
Last year, Chrisau graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Mt. Kenya University, but is not about to abandon his true passion. Although he holds a regular IT job at Africa New Life Ministries, the soft spoken beat maker wears his musical heart immediately the day ends at his regular nine-to-five job.
“I leave work at 5pm and go straight to the studio and work till I’m tired,” he reveals.
As music director, his main brief is to coordinate The Prayer House’s music operations both in practice and in live performances. “I also work with the other teams like production and lighting and all the behind the scenes crews,” he quips.
A pastor’s child, Chrisau was literally born and raised in church, his father pastor Gerald Kalimba’s church. His mother, Immaculee Mukamurenzi was a chorister in the church, and it is she that introduced a young Christian to music.
“My mother introduced me to the keyboard. She bought me a keyboard when I was three years old, but I broke it because I wanted to know what was inside. She never got me into anything musical until I was seven or eight years, when our church (Jerusalem Church) acquired a new keyboard and I was interested. She found me someone to teach me. The man was around for about a month and he introduced me to music theory.”
By the age of nine, he was already playing the keyboard, and at eleven years, he was already trying his hand at music production.
In 2013, he was introduced to Beauty For Ashes Band by a friend, and the connection was instantaneous. At the time, the band was preparing for a youth conference dubbed Alive And Free”
“A friend called Fabien who played guitar for Alive And Free invited me to their rehearsal session. I went and luckily for me that day, the second piano player was not around, and Fabien told his colleagues that I could play and they said why not? That was actually the first time I saw a live set up. I liked it and started learning about sound, and setting up. After some time I started learning acoustic guitar, then the bass.”
Olivier Kavutse, the founder of The Prayer House community, is all praises for Chrisau, describing him as a child prodigy:
“When he first joined the community he played the second guitar but within a short time he got into so many things. He’s probably the only person in the country who can play synth music. He also plays, piano, keyboard, sometimes during our concerts you will see him having four pianos and playing all of them.”
Recently, Chriso also ventured into sound engineering, executing his first task at the Unstoppable Concert featuring Beauty For Ashes and US gospel band Christafari in August last year. As a music producer, he mixed Beauty For Ashes’ latest album, Renaissance.
“For the last five years we’ve been together, all I know about him is that he is a very curious person, always reading something online, or finding some new course to learn,” Kavutse remarks of the producer.
Fourth Man Records
Chrisau came up with the idea for Fourth Man Records, which he describes as “a gospel music label that is open to everyone, but mostly gospel musicians. It’s less of a business and more of giving back to the kingdom of God. We want to empower the gospel artists here so they can reach out to everyone not just their small communities.”