Sarah Mbogo:
singing her gift

From an early age, Sarah Mbogo felt called to spread her faith through song.

"It's a gift," says Mbogo, who was born in Kenya, East Africa, and now calls Lowell, just outside Boston, Mass., home.

"I loved to sing when I was a little girl, particularly gospel music," she recalls during a telephone interview from Lowell. "I've been singing all my life."

Although she has been singing since her youth, particularly in Christian church choirs back in Kenya, it wasn't until 1995, at age 25, that Mbogo realized music was her calling. "I knew I had a gift to pass the message of Jesus Christ to other people," she says. "And I know my music has touched people."

That calling gelled in 1997, when she came to the United States for the first time.

"I did not come to sing. I had friends here, and family. I came to visit my family," she says. "I came here to visit, but when I got here, there was so much for me to do."

Mbogo initially sang in her native Kenyan language, Kikuyu, as well as Swahili. And, although she says the message feels the same in any language, "people encouraged me to sing in a language they could understand. Most people here don't understand Kikuyu." So she added songs in English to her repertoire, singing now in all three languages.

"It sounds good. Most of the times I sing in Swahili or Kikuyu, and people love it ... even if they don't understand," she says.

Although her roots have always been gospel, Mbogo says her relationship to the music has evolved over time. "It's different. As years have come and passed, I've grown so much spiritually," she says. "I'm walking closer to the Lord."

Some people, she says, simply respond better to a message wrapped in music, she adds.

"People are different. Some people get messages mostly from singing, others from preaching," Mbogo says. "Singing is powerful."

Even if people don't understand the words, she adds, she always hopes her audiences will participate in the songs.

"It's so much better ... when we worship together," she says.

interview by
Tom Knapp

16 April 2011

what's new