WHEN two persons love each other, nothing is more important and delightful to them than giving – giving always and everything.
This wisdom is repeated in many songs of Tanzanian diva Stara Thomas, one of a few well-known local artists who highly respect African culture.
In an interview with THISDAY over the weekend, the charming and cheerful songbird exuded an aura of a pure African woman.
Dressed in a simple denim jeans and a blouse, with her hair neatly done in a modern African way, the singing sensation says music is one of the best ways of teaching appropriate expression of love.
“In as much as music should be danceable, it should in more ways than one also impart a positive influence on all spheres of life,” Stara says, smiling.
Fondly referred to as “Tanzanian Zouk queen” by her adoring fans -- a justly deserved title -- Stara is aware of the role she has to play as a famed artist and African mother. Indeed, she is proud of her cultural roots.
Unlike most female singers, who usually put on revealing outfits when in action, showing their tempting bodies, Stara never wears any obscene or too revealing outfits during her public performances or even in her videos.
“As an African woman, I'm supposed to embody a true African spirit. After all, wearing short or revealing dresses is not music,” she said when asked why she is not interested in putting on what the likes of K-Lyn or Ray C wear when in action.
Stara, winner of the Kilimanjaro Music Awards 2003 for the Best Female Vocalist, said as long as she can sing and people like her songs, she feels there's no need for her to market her songs by exposing her body.
And she really embodies a true African spirit – determination, energy and commitment to her continent of birth.
Even as a young girl growing up in Mwanza and later in Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian diva, now in her early 30s, was determined to make a success of her life, and never considered failure.
“Even then I saw music as my destiny,” the third born in a family of four children (three girls, one boy), recalls proudly.
Born 32 years ago in Mwanza, Stara started singing at a tender age of seven while pursuing her primary education at Lake School in Mwanza.
She studied at Lake Primary School up to Standard Three before she left for Dar es Salaam where she joined Upanga Primary School.
Later, the multi-talented artist joined Mzizima Secondary School in Dar es Salaam before attending various courses in the city, including Tourism, Airlines and Computer.
A few years later, she worked as a public relations officer in various companies in Dar es Salaam before joining East Africa Radio as a presenter.
Stara, then a young lady, hugged her job with both hands, but she still had music at her heart.
Her burning ambition was to be an artist, but she found it difficult to inform her parents about her desire to venture into music.
And when she finally did, their response was typical of what she had expected. They tried all they could to discourage her from venturing into a field that is deemed, to some people, as irrelevant.
“But I had made my choice, and my parents, who were both teachers, had no option but to let me fulfill my dream,” she recalls.
Luckily enough, her decision to take music as a serious business paid dividends and today she is a singing sensation known throughout Swahili-speaking Africa.
“Whilst at Mzizima Secondary School, I used to feature for In Afrika Band during their live shows at Kilimanjaro Hotel (now Kempiski Kilimanjaro Hotel) during my holidays,” she recalls, adding:
“In 1999, I decided to take music as a serious business by composing my own songs and releasing albums.”
It was around this period that she composed her first song 'Children's Rights', and two years later, she released her second single 'My Body' -- both in English.
Stara names American singer Mariah Carey, the best-selling female performer of the 1990s, as one of the artists who inspired her to venture into music.
“When I heard her songs on radio, I always sang along and just had a great time impersonating her,” she recalls.
The other artists Stara used to admire during her childhood are Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Papa Wemba, Tabu Ley, Mbilia Bel, Tshala Mwana and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
But it was not until in 2000 when she hit the limelight after she started singing in Kiswahili, and soon had a number of hits being played repeatedly on local radios.
The songs include 'Sikia' and 'Mimi na Wewe', which are off her 'Nyuma Sitorudi' album.
Her talent received some recognition in 2003 when she won the Kilimanjaro Music Awards for the Best Female Vocalist in Tanzania.
Three years ago, she released a hit single about safe motherhood and infant health at the request of White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in Tanzania.
Titled 'Play Your Part', the song became a hit only days after its release.
The song talks about how a pregnant woman’s health is supposed to be taken care of by specialists in order to reduce the number of women and children dying during delivery time.
In one of her recent shows, Stara, dressed traditionally in an orange gown with a gold sunburst embroidered along the bodice, matching her sunny disposition, left those advocating for African culture contented.