Musician Philip ‘Filah’ Tuju Sijenyi, developed an interest in music early in his life through his parents, who sang in the church choir. At family altars, Filah and his siblings were encouraged to sing in harmony.
He received basic music theory training at Lavington Primary School and Kilimani Junior Academy primary school before music was scrapped from the primary school system. He did not receive any formal music education until he got to high school where he took his music theory class seriously and also sang in the school choir of Upper Hill School – Nairobi.
It was at Upper Hill that Filah discovered the beauty of harmony and took special attention to songwriting and composition, improved sight reading skills and was soon appointed chairman of the Upper Hill School Choir.
As chairman he led the choir to first position nationally at the Kenya Music Festival, in a song that he exclusively taught. At Upper Hill, Filah was also invited to join the school’s celebrated christian union Acappella singing group, Voice In The Light, in his first year of high school. He went on to be the leader of Voice In the Light in his fourth form.
Through Voice In The Light, he was invited to be part of Votaries, a vocal group consisting former members of Voice In The Light members who had cleared high school and those still in school. Following the great success of the Voice In The Light group that he was then leading, Filah together with current members opted to form their own vocal group to continue performing once they left high school.
It was in 2002 that he and his friends left Votaries to form Pentamony. Immediately after graduating Pentamony was slotted for major performances, opening for some of the most established artists at the time. Still with the success of Pentamony, Filah continued to be a volunteer choir and voice trainer at his former school Upper Hill and also at Moi Girls School Nairobi. He was 19 then.
That same year he led both Upper Hill and Moi Girls’ to win at the Kenya Music Festival. With the fulfillment that he got training aspiring singers more or less his age mates, Filah felt that as much as he was not getting paid for his services, it was the perfect opportunity for him to improve on his vocal technique, sight reading, and conducting while teaching.
He has since then volunteered at various secondary and primary schools that include, Upper Hill School – Nairobi, Starehe Boys Centre, Moi Girls school-Nairobi, State House Girls School, Ngara Girls High School, Highway Secondary School, Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, Uhuru Gardens Primary School, St Georges Primary School, Nairobi South Primary School. Over the years Filah has run several charity programs in not only vocal music but also instrument instruction.
At his church he run a program to teach, Violin, Piano, Voice, Flute, Clarinet, Guitar, Drums and other instruments to kids who were home for the holidays. At Upper Hill he carried his five violins that he had used his saving to buy, to teach his singing students how to play.
Through his volunteering culture particularly at Upper Hill, he gave vocal foundation lessons to various notable singers and musicians lilke Sauti Sol, Josh of Amos n Josh, Bryan of Elani, Anto neo soul, Ciano, Scott the Violinist, Christ Cycoz and Enos Olik .While Pentamony had achieved a lot of success, they also began running into the challenges that many of young musicians suffer in this cut throat music industry.
Noticing the groups excitement at performing at every venue available, music promoters took advantage of the young lads and more often than not did not pay them the full amounts agreed. This often left the group members dejected. Pentamony was however blessed when they met a Nairobi based producer Michael ‘Rizeye’ Kariuki, who was impressed by their talent and accepted to work on their debut album free of charge.
At Rizeye’s studio, Filah got introduced to recording techniques, learned the dynamics of studio recording as compared to the live stage setting that he was fairly used to. He also got introduced to music technology, quietly watching as Rizeye and his team worked on the productions.
Pentamony finally completed their debut album ‘Everything We Feel’ in 2007, and was well received among the Kenyan urban audience. Success of their album and vocal prowess earned the group numerous awards including, Kisima Music Awards, Chaguo LaTeeniez.
With that success followed an invitation to tour Norway, through a Kenyan born Norwegian Classical singer Rhoda Ondeng Wilhelmssen, who was mesmerized by their harmony. On the group’s return from a successful tour of Norway, they disbanded after a number of successful singles and performances. The reasons were largely due to one of the members moving to another country and the others having various commitments. Filah attempted to reconstitute the group with new members but did not manage to make it achieve the synergy he desired. it broke up shortly after.
Filah then finally decided to pursue his performance career as a solo artist. He immediately embarked on writing new material and teamed up with with former fellow Pentamony member, Benson Mutahi and Robin Marcel to be his guitarists and music critics. He began performing and got to headline various shows in the country.
Filah also set his home studio Four Red Studios, where he has produced numerous singles for himself and other artists. It is at his home studio that he worked on his debut album ‘Every Dream’ that features his students, the Upper Hill School choir that he named, the Redfourth Chorus. The album is an gospel a cappella album of twenty six songs, most of which he wrote with his group while in Upper Hill School. The album was dedication to music in Upper Hill and his gratitude to all who helped him hone his gift of music. apart from contemporary music, Filah has also been actively involved in the Kenyan Classical music scene. Filah had a short stint at the Kenya Conservatoire of Music as a violinist, and taken part in various operas staged in Kenya as a baritone soloist. The Operas he has performed include, Papageno in the opera ‘The Magic Flute’, Leporello in the Opera ‘Don Giovanni’, Don Alfonso in the Opera ‘ Cosi Fan Tutti’, Figaro in the OPERA ‘MARRIAGE OF FIGARO.
Recently Filah took part in a reality music Tv show called the MaishaSuperstar Competition, where under the mentorship of African legend Nameless, Filah won the hearts of many by doing his original songs in the final stages of the competition that, enabled him to be the 2nd runners up. His gift for songwriting and arranging was noted by accomplished musicians that include Eric Wainaina, Chris Adwar, Carol Atemi and many others. He got to collaborate with these artists on his four songs that were hits at the competition. His latest release is Fatuma an Afro pop composition produced by the legendary Robert ‘RKay’ Kamanzi. Harmony, honest, pure, soulful, celestial are the many understatements that describe vocalist and instrumentalist PHILIP FIL-AH TUJU.
Filah is a scholarship recipient from the prestigious BERKELEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC.
You don’t want to miss watching Tuju, who will be a judge in The Search, the new reality TV music show that will start airing on Sunday January 15th, 2017. And here is another deal: You can also watch it on FaceBook Live, where it will be streamed live!