Just like the two sides of a coin that aren’t seen at the same time, Jeanne d’Arc Ingabire Butera, better known by her stage name Knowless, stunned family and friends when she unveiled her singing side in 2011. The 24-year-old Tulia hit singer is currently one of the ten contestants in the ongoing Primus Guma Guma Super Star, PGGSS5– a local annual reality singing competition. The event is sponsored by Bralirwa’s Primus lager with the aim of promoting music entertainment in Rwanda. Butera had a tête-à-tête with The New Times’ entertainment scribe, Hassan Mutuhe.
How was the performance in Rubavu?
Rubavu was fantastic. I liked and enjoyed the stage. I personally enjoyed my performance because I gave it my best.
How did you end up in the music industry?
Growing up, I knew I’d be someone great one day. I couldn’t tell if I would ever be an artiste but I had this regular inner voice that kept echoing within me, telling me that I was destined to be an extraordinary character.
Even though my mother was a church singer and I was an ardent fan of Cécile Kayirebwa and Kamaliza (Annonciata Mutamuliza), I could never imagine myself as an artiste. Even when I started singing, I didn’t see it as a longtime career until I released my second song, Komeza. Its reception was massive and I was like ‘ok, I think I can sing for a living.’
What do you think you be if you didn’t become an artiste?
Well, I used to admire soldiers a lot. Most times in my childhood, I could imagine myself as a soldier; a decorated officer. I also idolized doctors and nurses so much; the professional empathy with which they handle patients. Perhaps I could have ended up becoming either of the two.
How did your family feel about your career choice?
They were surprised. See, I was this reserved, shy and timid girl. At first they thought I couldn’t make it far because to them, my character was contrary to what is expected of an artiste. I was never the kind of hyper girl who’d go on stage and thrill fans. At least that’s the kind of impression they had about me. However, it didn’t take them long to realize that I loved and was determined to keep on doing what I was doing. They became supportive.
And your friends... were they shocked, too, that you had chosen to become an artiste?
Sure they were. I was a secondary school student when I started my music career. And like I've already said, I was a very quiet person so my schoolmates couldn't believe that the introvert girl in me could actually sing. Actually there was a debate amongst students as to whether it was me they were hearing/seeing on radio and TV! Some had to confront me to confirm if I was the one. That's how amazed they were.
Now that you've seen what it means to be an artiste, would you opt for something else?
Music has groomed me into the person that I am. I can't see myself holding an office job, sitting behind a desk all day long. In other words, I can't imagine myself doing any other job passionately. To me, a job you're not passionate about or which you have no talent for isn't worth doing.
So you're saying you'll be an artiste forever?
I can say that I don't see myself quitting the music scene any time soon. Maybe I'll sing till I'm too old to sing anymore. I'd love to sing for my kids, my grandchildren.
What would you tell your fans who are reading this?
That thanks for nominating me for Primus Guma Guma Super Star all these times; it's a gesture of endless support. Then I'd also request them to include me in their prayers so that I win the show's fifth season, (PGGSS5).
Vote Knowless by writing 6 and send to 4343 (on all networks MTN, TIGO and Airtel).