Diana Teta, the youngster with a passion for traditional music

At 21 years of age, she is ruling the airwaves with hit singles, performing with big names in traditional music, acting in theatre and writing songs. Diana Teta is the female behind the hit song “Fata Fata” and the only female in Gakondo Music group. The New Times’ Dean Karemera sat down with her and below are the excerpts;
Diana Teta
Diana Teta

At 21 years of age, she is ruling the airwaves with hit singles, performing with big names in traditional music, acting in theatre and writing songs. Diana Teta is the female behind the hit song “Fata Fata” and the only female in Gakondo Music group. The New Times’ Dean Karemera sat down with her and below are the excerpts;

Who is Diana Teta?

Diana Teta is a young Rwandan musician who sings both traditional and mainstream music. When I’m recording as a solo artist, I record mainstream music such as reggae, RnB and jazz and when I’m with Gakondo Music group I do traditional music. 

Most young people wouldn’t consider doing traditional music, why is it different for you?

Traditional music is our identity as Rwandans and I’ve loved it since I was young and it’s my way of contributing toward preserving our roots. When I was young I used to listen to Ibitaramo nya’rwanda, I’m inspired by the late Kamaliza. When Intore Masamba came up with the idea of Gakondo Music Group, he told me and I didn’t hesitate. Gakondo Music Group has experienced people like Michel Ngabo, Masamba, and Jules Sentore that I learn from on a daily basis.

When did you start your music career?

I started recording in 2009 after coming in the top three in a singing competition that was conducted by a German group. They gave me a recording opportunity and I managed to record two songs although I didn’t put much effort into promoting the songs because I wanted to go for Tusker Project Fame 5. In 2012, I tried TPF but I was eliminated in the first round. When I came back I thought about joining the music industry, after some serious thought, I made a decision to join the music industry. It’s been a year since I started doing music professionally.

You went mainstream with “Fata Fata”, are you giving up on traditional music?

Absolutely not. I love traditional music and through performing both traditional and mainstream, I’m looking for my identity. I want to create my own unique style that will set me apart from other musicians by fusing both styles and this is actually my goal.

Do you have a specific genre of music you prefer?

I don’t think I have any specific genre of music that I prefer because all my songs are recorded in different styles. For example, Call Me is a reggae song, Undi Munsi  is a ragga/dancehall song and I’m currently working on another song with Pastor P that is a fusion of Kinyarwanda and jazz. I’m still trying to find a specific genre that suits me.

How does it make you feel to be considered among the fast-rising musicians in Rwanda?

It makes me feel valued, honoured and appreciated. I get motivated to work harder whenever people appreciate my voice and my work although I still have a lot to learn. It also convinces me further that I made the right decision to join the music industry.

Tell us about your first experience shooting a music video?

It was exhilarating but not intimidating given my past experience in theatre acting. I performed in theatre when Romeo and Juliet was showing in some parts of the country,  I acted as Lady Capulate. That stage experience helped me although I had to learn how to move with the song, position my hands and try to flow with the music. It was a good experience.

What are some of the lessons you learnt from Tusker Project Fame?

I learnt a lot from TPF and it was my first time to perform for such a big audience. I was taught how to balance my vocals, position myself on stage, hold the microphone, and control my voice. It is one of the reasons I joined Gakondo Music Group because we perform regularly on stage which is like practice for me.

How would you rate the music industry in Rwanda now?

I’m still new in the music industry but I can say that as musicians in this age and era, we won’t be able to leave a lasting imprint on society. When you look at Kayirebwa and Philemon, they sang real songs, and it’s hard to forget those songs. These days musicians record songs for entertainment which are easily forgotten. As musicians we should endeavor to create for the sake of legacy and not just entertainment.

What is your take on the decline of traditional music especially among the youth?

I think slowly we have detached ourselves from traditional music simply because of cultural clashes. The youth are more drawn to western songs because they are the most commonly played. Furthermore, we no longer have “Ibitaramo” or screenings of traditional music. Lastly, the Ministry of Culture should put more effort in organising and promoting cultural music, especially among the youth.

So what next after Fata Fata?

I’m releasing my video for Canga Ikarita this Friday and I will try to release a song every month or two to keep relevant and consistent. At the same I’m working on a traditional song that I might release soon.  I have other projects I’m working on.

What is your dream?

My dream is to go as far as I can. There’s a time I was watching MTV and they were showing African divas from South Africa, Uganda, Angola and I asked myself why Rwanda can’t produce a music diva? That inspired me to represent my country and go beyond borders and the continent as well.

Who is your inspiration?

That would be  Kamaliza (RIP) and Cecile Kayirebwa. It was an honour for me to perform with Ceciel Kayirebwa on the same stage at the East African Party. It was a dream come true for me and a good experience doing rehearsals with her. 

Are you dating?

At the moment I’m single and not searching. I’m still trying to build my career as well as complete my education at Mount Kenya. I’m in my first year. After some time I will date because I want to have kids and that means getting married. But not now.

Any last words?

I would like to thank all the people who have supported me till today. The musicians I’ve worked with, the producers, Gakondo Music Group and my fans on social media. I was nominated for Best New Artist after my first hit and this means a lot to me.  Secondly, sexual exploitation should cease to be the basis on which music is recorded or promoted. Female musicians should strive to respect themselves and use their talent. And the same goes for promoters and producers who usually want to take advantage of them.

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