Nice to meet you Leyla Mohamed. Tell us a bit about yourself
I am 13 years old and I go to St Teresa’s Girls Primary School in Eastleigh.
Your rendition of the famous Kenyan patriotic song Wimbo Wa Historia, originally written by Enock Ondego, has recently gone viral online. What inspired the song?
I had been doing vocal classes for nine months during school holidays at PPMC (Permanent Presidential Music Commission), before I was given the song to record.
It was inspired by the upcoming Mashujaa Day, which will be a good reminder of how far we have come as a nation.
Did you expect the response it received?
The response has been beyond anyone’s expectation. I have even received an invite to perform for the president and the whole nation at the Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kakamega!
How did you get into singing?
I began singing at the age of three, and my greatest influence came from listening to the radio, which my mum loved playing.
How many songs have you recorded so far?
Only the one that has been released; Wimbo Wa Historia. I plan to record more songs once I have finished my KCPE exams in November.
How do you balance school and music?
I study when it’s time to study. I also get guidance from my mother, teachers and mentors to ensure I strike the balance.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a young artiste?
A lot of exposure has forced me to learn how to handle large audiences and people who love my singing. While some people have been good, others have been extremely scary in how they behave when they meet me.
There is also a misconception out there that working on your talent while still young is a bad thing. I’m still trying to balance my life to ensure it all works out well for me.
How have you been handling your newly found fame?
My family and close friends keep me grounded and in check. I don’t even have access to social media yet; these are all handled by my manager.
Who are your mentors?
I have three mentors: My mum, because she was the first person to spot my talent, and has encouraged me and taken me to functions where I got to perform.
Secondly, DJ Pinye, who spotted me through a friend and introduced me to PPMC, and also sponsored and directed my first project. Third is Christine from PPMC, who is my vocal teacher.
What do you want to be in future?
A pilot who is also a musician.
Which subjects do you like in school?
I love Maths and English. They are my favourite.
Advice to other upcoming young singers?
Trust God, be humble and follow your dream. I have been raised by my mother to always follow my dreams and become whoever I want to be, regardless of the religion I was born into. I have been given the permission and free will to make my own life choices.
My mother is Muslim, but does not impose her own beliefs on me, instead, encourages me to make and follow my own path. Therefore, I don’t view my religion as an obstacle, but rather, a way to express myself and show other young children that they can grow up to become their authentic selves.