People Daily

Face behind most Kenya’s gospel hits

Jacob Otieno, alias Jacky B, has made a name in Kenya’s gospel music industry. His wife, Brenda Michelle Otieno takes us through his childhood, their love life as well as being a well established music producer

Grace Wachira @yaa_grace

Briefly describe Jacky B in a few words?

He’s 34 years old, simple, patient and hard-working.

What was his childhood like?

I joined him in his adulthood, so I may not tell you about his childhood in details. But he was born in Dandora, Nairobi and had a good start in life. However, his mother died when he was of tender age and his dad passed on when he was in Class Four.

His once close-knit family was split and Jacob, his brother and sister had to be separated and brought up by different relatives. He, however, reconnected with his siblings when he joined Wynton School of Music, Nairobi in 2007.

How did the two of  you meet?

We saw each other for the first time at Coke Studio in 2012. I was interning, having studied a course in film and television. He, on the other hand, was in the sound department. I later became production assistant then artiste liaison.

So, we were seeing each other often and later started communicating via social media. I did not even know he was such a celebrity. I was a bit sceptical about being involved with a celebrity, but he eased his way into my heart.

He proposed to you after five years of dating. Tell us more.

We were inseparable—not a day went by without seeing each other. His proposal in April last year came as a surprise though. He had been at home all day playing PlayStation with gospel artiste Pitson, yet we had a dinner date, and I was getting angry.

Eventually, we went out for dinner. Well, the place was already set up. And Pitson started serenading me. Jacob popped the question and I said ‘Yes’. We legalised our union on May 6, this year.

What is he like as a husband and father?

He is good at both and balances the roles well. He is good with our two-year-old daughter, Iman Atemi Otieno. He is protective of us. He genuinely takes joy in being there for us.

We were raised in environments where our parents were not there for us—his parents passed on, whereas I was raised by my grandmother. This has shaped the way we regard family.

He is one of the top music producers in the Kenyan gospel scene. What’s that like for you?

Him being in the gospel industry shapes his character as it keeps him grounded. He doesn’t smoke or drink. He also loves to spend time with us.

What is the most ridiculous rumour you have heard about him and how did you deal with it?

That he was a devil worshipper. It pissed me off because I know him well.

What did it take to start his Tamusana label?

A lot of hard work and patience because starting a studio is an expensive venture. I saw him save up while he was working as a tutor at Winton School of Music. And that way, he bought equipment one at a time until the whole studio came to life in 2013. He charges around Sh20,000 to produce a song.

What inspires Jacky B?

A lot of the time, he gets his inspiration from research. He talks to other producers outside Kenya and finds out what is happening. He finds out what West Africans or the French are doing, among others.

What is his biggest fear?

He is self-conscious and sometimes it works against him. He has gotten better, but there was a time he worried about what people thought about him as he fears rejection.

What does he do for fun?

He plays the PlayStation!

How do you spend time together as a family?

Well, most of the time we all sit and watch education and entertainment content for Iman. At just two, she knows all the colours and is learning numbers. I hope to homeschool our children in the future. Basically, just chilling and watching movies together is what we enjoy most. And eating too (laughs).

What is his worst habit?

I think he has obsessive compulsive disorder. He is always obsessed with something at a certain time. It could be the paint that he wants us to change and he will not stop until it happens. He also likes dogs. We’re getting a second dog soon. Until something is done, he will not let it go. When it comes to helping people, he goes all in. He loves to give. My husband has a big heart. 

What else can we expect from him in the future?

More versatile music. As a family, we are expecting our second baby (laughs).

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