NexDim caught up with ace Cameroonian gospel sensation GENI SOUMA for an interview. She takes us through her musical journey and exploits.
Briefly introduce yourself.
Geni Souma: My name is Genevieve Souma and I am mostly reserved and an introvert. However, I am very outspoken and not afraid to share my opinion about stuffs. One of the things I am known to be very outspoken about is abuse in the church/ Christianity, abuse within the family and in other spheres of the society. My favorite hobby is reading.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a seasoned gospel singer.
Geni Souma: My journey as a Gospel singer is really a journey of bringing together my passion in music and my passion for the Gospel. As a child, I liked singing (and at the top of my voice too) but my voice was truly not nice hahahaha… I later joined the Junior Choir of PC Buea Station in 1997 while in Secondary School. And in 2003, I became a member of Youth Aglow’s “The One Voice”Choir. While in The One Voice, we also performed our original songs and the very first I wrote was for originally for the One Voice, titled Praise To Our God, which I renamed, EVERYTHING. https://youtu.be/50v4a8UA2Gg
I went to manage the Y.A. Squad who were a Gospel rap group from Youth Aglow. In 2013, I had just come out of a period of deep hurt and betrayal with the help of my family and I decided to go to God in Thanksgiving at my Church. I didn’t have a lot of money and I wanted to bring an offering to God that was costly. So I prayed and asked God to give me three songs which would be sung live during the service as my Thanksgiving offering. And within two weeks, I wrote three beautiful songs titled;
1. Great are You, Lord
2. You Never Change
3. He Heard Me
The first two were released in my first EP titled, Devoted. https://a.co/d/2wsNt4i
After performing these songs live in Church, I started thinking that they could be songs of edification and encouragement to other people and I quickly realized that the only way to make that happen was for me to record the songs and put them out there. I got really busy with my job as an Accountant and I also lacked experience as a musician. I only got around to record these songs in 2016. In the course of recording them, I came to discover that I seemed to possess a gift of songwriting as I ended up writing a couple more songs, of which I chose to record six for my EP, Devoted.
What inspired you to indulge into gospel music?
Geni Souma: The choice of me singing Gospel is because of my belief in God and my passion in teaching the Bible and more specifically the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Anybody who meets me for the first time would probably start having a strong conviction after talking with me for five to ten minutes that I must be a Christian even if our conversation is not about religion and even if the name of God has not been mentioned.
How do you describe your genre of music?
Geni Souma: Soul Music, Soul Gospel (if you prefer)
Aside music, what else do you do?
Geni Souma: Project Manager, farmer (poultry), songwriter and Bible Teacher. I have written music for Sakerettes, Sobans – https://youtu.be/p5Vd60_HTOQ and also for the Jesus Kids Club cartoon series – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmILGrwCX6OGc6-m36XltiA
Is gospel music receiving attention in Cameroon?
Geni Souma: Absolutely! However, it is clear that Cameroonians know more of the Gospel songs by foreign artists than they do songs by the local Gospel artistes.
Tell us about your latest single « Blessed»
Geni Souma: The song, Blessed, is more of an upbeat and danceable song (the first of its kind that I have written) and it’s a song of celebration and thanksgiving to God for the blessing of being alive. I wrote this song at my sister’s request for her husband’s fortieth birthday celebration. She was planning a surprise birthday party for him and I had to perform the song live.
Writing the song was a little tricky for me because I wanted it to be a song that people could join and dance to during the birthday party to celebrate Dr. Ronald Gobina. By the way, Ronald is not only my brother in-law, but we have been friends for over twenty years and he has been my mentor for eighteen years. So that’s the background story for the song.
How has the reaction been since you released your debut single?
Geni Souma: I have released several songs over the years, eleven released singles and one EP. Every time I have released a song, there have been a few people who would reach out to me to tell me how touched they have been by some of my songs. That always brings a warmth to my heart which humbles me.
Who is the ideal artist you wish to collaborate with?
Geni Souma: So far, I have collaborated with Brian Aboringong – https://youtu.be/3HW4e9xoBcw
I hope to collaborate with other artists in the future as the opportunity arises. For now though, I would just focus on improving on myself and on my skills.
Who are your fave Cameroonian gospel artists?
Geni Souma: Dolly Parton has my “bestest”Gospel song. Then there is Abigail Philips, Brian Aboringong, Don Moen, Sinach, Frank Edwards, Nathaniel Bassey, Rochie Osvalin etc in n particular order.
Which Cameroonian artists do you listen to?
Geni Souma: Minister Etta, Abigail Philips, Vernyuy Tina, Brian Aboringong, Rochie Osvalin, Emma Gospel, Prosper Menko, MT Shyns, Ayuk, Maureen Forbah, Min El Brandon, Akuba etc. To be honest, I listen to a lot of Cameroon music and I am always looking out for new releases so the list of artists I listen to is way longer than this.
What are the difficulties you face in the artistic field and how do you overcome them?
Geni Souma: My biggest challenge so far has been with promotion and marketing. I still do not know how to go about it.
Are you working on any forthcoming music project?
Geni Souma: Not yet.
What’s your key message to fans of your music?
Geni Souma: I would like to encourage them to not give up on life no matter the challenge, to not give up on hope and above all to not give up on God.
Thanks for your time . Have a nice day.