Having produced eleven volumes for the Hosanna! Music series of worship albums, praise and worship legend, Don Moen is in the country for the Don Moen With Lenny Leblanc Worship Concert slated for tomorrow at Citam Karen. His music has total global sales of over five million units. With songs such as God Will Make A Way, Above All and There Is None Like You, he drilled his way into millions of households globally, writes Grace Wachira
You’ve been in the industry for over 30 years. Decade after decade, you’ve amassed an even bigger following. What’s the secret?
Well, for starters, I have a supportive family. I have been married to one wife, Laura for 44 years now and she has been with me all through. Even when I travelled and did tours, which I still I’m doing, she has been there all through.
Also, I work with my children in the company, now our company. In fact, my manager, Jesse, is my son-in-law. Jesse worked in the Bush administration then came to work for me where he fell in love with my daughter. So having my family with me has helped a great deal.
Starting out, did you ever think your brand would rise to global popularity?
No. Nope. Never. In fact, I used to warm up the stage for the main acts. The guys I was with would crack jokes and say my music ‘escaped’ as opposed to I released music because as I warmed the audience, it would be recorded and would somehow got out and be heard. I thank God for what he has done.
Was there a time in your musical career when the spotlight became too much?
I cannot really point out one incident where I created a buzz, but there was this time we were touring the Philippines in 1995. On the runway as we landed, there were all these journalists and I thought to myself, there must be a senior government official on this flight, but I later found out they were there for me. It was humbling.
When we toured Nigeria with Lenny Leblanc and CeCe Winans, among other great artistes, I saw a billboard with me as the main act and the rest in small pics and I sunk in my seat. I mean, they are also equally great acts. I know that I have been killed thrice and even said to have divorced my wife, but, well, that is not true.
What would you say is the difference between yesteryear and today in terms of the kind of content we churn?
I cannot really say that there is a difference because times have changed. However, back then, inspiration came from the prayer closet. When I pray, music comes to me then. Now we have a lot of young people as the audience and probably the aim of making Christian music has changed.
The sole purpose of gospel music is to spread the word, to cause healing, invoke hope and faith. It should feed emotions and sprout growth spiritually. Nowadays, social media is the label most are signed to. Back in the day, we had labels from companies and they were the ones in charge of your music and money. Today most people livestream the particular jam they like and download it. Times have really changed!
What are some of the challenges you’ve gone through?
I will single out one challenge where we lost our nephew. He was a teacher of the word and led a great life, but he left us. My family was in pain and it was challenging having to be the one that gave them hope.
At that time, I prayed and that was how God Will Make A Way was birthed. Initially, I wrote it just for them and sung it to them in private after the funeral. It was tough feeding hope and faith to them at a time like that. I know my wife, Laura, along with the rest of the family questioned God then, but we pulled through and seeing them heal gave me healing too.
What are some of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on?
I have worked with Lenny Leblanc, who also happens to be my best friend and is with me on this tour. I have worked with CeCe Winans and Hillsong too. For 20 years, I was the president of Integrity Media and it was hard to say goodbye to that family.
I loved working with Frank Edwards from Nigeria and an all-female group from South Africa. I would not mind working with them again. I learnt Igbo (laughs). I also look forward to working with more artistes.
What are you currently working on?
When Laura and I were bringing up our children, we used to lull them to sleep with my music. We had a blessing that we would always say to them before they slept. A lot of it is derived from books in Psalms. We do the same thing now to our four grandchildren. As of last year, I have been working on a lullaby album for them and for all other children. Next year, we will have a whole album out.
How do you strike the balance between your music and family and ministry?
Some say I have all the pastoral characters, but outside mentorship and the Worship In Action charity foundation we have, I mentor young artistes who look up to me. We teach them how to write music as well as serve God through their ministry. I have my priorities in check.
That was how I was able to run Integrity Media as well as be a present family man. First, on my list is my service to God then my duties as a husband and father and now grandfather then my music. It is of no use to make great music and miss out on my blessing from God and lose my family.
What’s the one thing not many know about you?
I love to cook. When my children were still little, I would make them breakfast. Fridays in our home became ‘Pancake Fridays’. Up to date, every Friday, they all come down to our house with their children to have my pancakes! It’s safe to say I do a pretty neat job if they still come every Friday.
What are you most looking forward to during your stay?
The last time I was here, I enjoyed myself and I look forward to Saturday’s concert as well. I know people have been praying for it and we too have. God will surely make a way for Kenya.
What a better time to visit Kenya! We are praying for Kenya and the downpour is proof that there shall be showers of blessings. Only a few days ago, we were in Singapore. It feels great to be back.
Know any Kiswahili words?
Yes. I know asante sana (thank you very much) and I am learning how to say Bwana asifiwe (praise God).