South Sudan Celebrity Watch’s Martin caught up with Dennis in an exclusive interview and here is what he has to say:
Martin: What is the name of your Band and when was it formed (Who are the members)?
We are called Star Eagles (not Eagle stars as many call us). We formed this band since 2005.our real names are Denaya Dennis and Tony Manasseh as the brains behind the band. I (Denny) come from Morobo and Tony from Lainya, Central Equatoria State.
Martin: What inspired you to come up with the name Star Eagles?
We came together in 2001; I was quite a little boy. Those days I hardly heard a song in my own language; instead all songs were in Lingala, Kiswahili and Luganda. As a boy something spoke to me asking “why can’t you be a singer and sing in your own language?” that voice kept pushing me until I met Tony in the choir. After realising we have the same call, we founded the band Star Eagles.
The meaning of Star Eagles is derived from the two different words “Star and Eagle”, as you read below:-
When Jesus was born, the bright star represented Him showing that the King was born, so here the Star (Jesus Himself) gives light to the world so that men will no longer live in darkness, and therefore the Star represents Jesus and we want to be the shining Star to bring to light what is in darkness.
The Eagle is one of the wisest and strongest birds that God created and it almost always stays up the sky where many people can see it.(One day stand up and see how far the eagle flies above us, you will realize the eagle won’t get tired even for the whole day and that’s how we want to serve). Therefore Star Eagles means that, “As the Star gives us light, we can soar like an eagle as far as the sky to tell the world what is happening. Our heart is to lift up the banner of Jesus Christ as high as the sky is distanced so that many nations of the world will know Jesus hence the name Star Eagles.
Martin: How would you describe your music?
It is a music that cuts across all categories of people, God is not only concerned about our spiritual life, but also about how we live our lives socially, politically and economically. So our music has a very strong Christian background. That’s why we sing Mama boy, Love of today, Likiso etc.
Martin: Thinking back to your childhood, what songs did you listen to and have they influenced your music today in anyway?
I was mostly listening to Congo music; I didn’t understand what they mean so no much influence instead created the war in me to sing in languages my country people will understand.
Martin: What was the first song you ever recorded and what was the experience?
Our first Album was Dahiman-Dahiman telling our story before we received Jesus. It’s something we were waiting to do, man! It felt like we have already started the journey. It was a challenging but good experience being in the studio. From there we knew our weakness and how we can cope up with the industry.
Martin: Why did you get involved in Gospel music?
We want to translate the Gospel in a simplest way that everyone will understand. Above all it is a call to minister through music. Secondly our community is daily polluted with immoral songs; therefore we want people to listen to good songs that promote good moral ethics in our Christian society.
Martin: Where and how often do you perform?
Hahaha! We perform everywhere and currently we have a plan to tour all the ten states of South Sudan God-willingly, we have started with Central and Western Equatoria. We have other shows within with invitations from fellow singers and we go out in big days, good seasons and when ever we feel like.
Martin: What can someone expect to see at your live performances?
We always make sure we are well prepared before we go on stage, we put all our efforts to do the best each time we have a show. You will never go hungry in our shows. We make sure our fans are not bored.
Martin: In your recent song “Disability”, where you featured “Stema G” from Nairobi, what message are you trying to send to the public?
Hmmm! We as well are concerned about the people around us. We are creating awareness to the public that “Disability is not Inability” as people with disabilities have been under looked in so many ways. A campaign we want to carryout in South Sudan through music. We are seeking for like-minded bodies/institutions/parties/ or NGOs to partner with us in carrying this campaign. This project is ready at hand to be presented to those interested.
Martin: Music is a very a powerful tool that unites people of all walks of life. As musicians does any of your music address the issue of tribalism that is hindering the steady development of our new nation?
Most of our songs address issues contained in our society. “Nalo rambu lungase” tells us to live in love and not like Cain and Abel. Mama boy exposes the strengths of women and some weaknesses of men, saidu al maskin teaches people to give to the poor, needy, widows, orphans etc. We have received comments from many people about how good our songs are.
Martin: What other social problems do you address in your music?
We look at broken families and how we can say something to mend these families. As such we address issues about love, giving (being generous, which is another important part of the Gospel that people ignored), we don’t forget that we need peace, forgiveness and many others as you listen to our songs.
Martin: Besides English, what other language do you sing in?
We sing in simple local Arabic and Bari mostly. Kiswahili and Luganda and other languages come once in a while.
Martin: What is your vision and Mission?
To reach the unreached through Christian music that promotes spiritual growth and good social moral ethics in our societies with the message of Hope, Healing and Forgiveness.
“Singing and creating arts that can transform our society through spiritual and positive Christian songs that promote moral ethics”.
Martin: As a Band/musicians, what challenges do you face and how best can these challenges be addressed (by the relevant institutions)?
Generally the Gospel music in South Sudan lacks promotion. You have to struggle as an artist to make sure your songs are played on the radios but thanks to Radio Miraya and other stations for the work you do for us. Financial support is hard to find in South Sudan and is one problem we have. Another problem is with our churches which can not promote music; this is serious because as a gospel singer where do you expect me to minister my songs? Another general problem, being the lack of laws to protect the Music Industry.
For possible solutions, people need to invest in the music industry by opening companies that can manage Artists organise shows for them and sell their music, radio stations need to play 90% local songs and people should have to change their negative attitude towards local music. The church needs to promote all the talents to help young people keep busy in church.
Martin: Artists who start as a Band in most cases break up. What is the secret that keeps you going?
We have a goal and for this reason we need each other. No one is better than the other; we believe that two of us can do better instead those who tried to join us left because we have principles to guide us as a band.
Martin: What musical instruments do you play?
I can play the piano and the guitar. My younger brother Amos is teaching me the drums now.
Martin: South Sudan Celebrity Magazine was privileged enough to listen to some of your songs, like “Nalo Rambu Lungase” “Nina Kulu Wahid” “Mama Boy”. (What inspires the naming of your songs)?
The story we want to sing normally we write it down and then get a shooting title for it and that remains as a title for the song. It has to be short and should sound attractive.
Martin: Where can your fans get your CD and cassettes and any message to your fans?
In South Sudan there are no music shops where songs from within can be found besides there are many thieves today in the streets who sell music without the artist’s permission. We only sell our CDs and tapes when we go out for concerts and we appoint sale agents but currently our CDs are out of stock.
To our fans, we are in the next gear so far and before the end of this year, expect more from us, mara tayi, kan bedir de etc are the songs we are working at now. Otherwise keep the faith burning!