Marie-Emilie “Gaju” – Belgo-Rwandan girl impresses The Voice Kids Flanders

On 2 mai 2022 at 08:23

Marie-Emilie “Gaju” was only 4, when she first took the stage. She was enjoying music and dancing at a concert with her parents at the Belgian coast, when Marechal De Gaulle Ufiteyezu, a famous Rwandan singer, called her on stage and picked her up so that she could reach the microphone. He encouraged her to sing the chorus with him. She shined, clearly enjoyed the moment, and would not let De Gaulle put her on the floor again. That must be the day she caught the musical virus for good.

Marie-Émilie’s love for music already showed at early a very young age : every day, she came home from kindergarten singing a new melody she learned that day. She started taking singing lessons with vocal coach Dida Robbert at the age of seven, went to the local music school and has never stopped singing ever since. She sings at every opportunity, grabs the microphone at family reunions, events in the Rwandan community in Belgium, or at gigs organized by her singing school.

At the age of 9, she tried her luck at The Voice Kids Belgique on the French speaking Belgian television, but none of the coaches turned around during her blind audition.

Her disappointment did not last long and did not affect her will to pursue a career singing. That’s her character, really. She moves lightly and happily further along her path and already has a clear idea of what she wants in life. After the experience at the Voice, she became even more determined and started listening to the greatest musicians in order to learn from them. She listens to different genres, from recent pop to jazz but her soft spot is American soul music from the 60’ and 70’.

Heavily involved in the Rwandan community, her parents Nadia and Jean-François have always been taking her to community events, and she started to learn some songs in Kinyarwanda. For the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that she attends with her parents each year, she composed the song “Humura”.

The song commemorates the victims and comfort the survivors. Born in 2009, 15 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, she says : “I lost so many people in the Genocide that I should have known, family members whom I would have loved to know”.

This year, Marie-Emilie decided to try her luck once more and signed up for The Voice Kids, but this time on the Flemish television channel VTM. This time, she was lucky : she quickly seduced two judges during her blind audition with her bluesy voice and her powerful interpretation of Piece of my Heart from Janis Joplin. She joined the team of coach Metejoor, a rather new but very successful and promising singer-song writer who is leading the Flemish charts.

“I chose Metejoor because he was a teacher before, so I thought he must be great working with kids, and now that I work with him, I am convinced that I made the right choice.”

The next step after the blind auditions was the “knock-out” where only one out of three candidates is selected. Marie-Emilie interpreted Ain’t No Way from her greatest idol Aretha Franklin, and she did well : she impressed the judges by her soulful performance and confident attitude on stage. Marie-Emilie is now heading to the semi-finals as one of the last 16 candidates.

For sure, her successful adventure at The Voice Kids is giving her a boost, and all who follow her career are impressed by her progress. Even if she is still developing her identity as an artist at only 13 years old, an artist she already is ! Her experience and success make her dream appear much closer : one day becoming a professional singer. Remember her name, Marie-Emilie Gaju, I bet you will hear from her again in the future, that kid has got a talent.

Marie-Emilie, aged 4, on stage in the arms of Marechal De Gaulle Ufiteyezu.
Marie-Emilie singing at a commemoration event in Louvain-la-Neuve.