SAN Fernando bass guitarist Kohl Hosein briefly played with Nailah Blackman's Sokah Band in 2018. For Hosein, a devout Christian, the milestone was significant.
Now 24, he started playing music in 2008 at age 14, but he rarely played outside his church, the San Fernando Open Bible, and the church's musical ensemble Gates Praise. He had, however, done some studio recordings with local musical artistes.
When offered the opportunity with the Sokah Band, he saw it as faith meeting opportunity and as an avenue to gain new musical perspectives.
But he quickly received opposition from church members and his own family about his decision to play soca music. Eventually, after his brief stint, he succumbed to the external pressures and quit the Sokah Band.
Hosein, shared his experience of leaving the Sokah Band, his journey in music and Christian faith with Sunday Newsday. He works at UWI, St Augustine as a web developer and holds a BSc in land management valuation and an MSc in creative design entrepreneurship.
To him, there was nothing wrong with being a Christian and playing soca music. He simply wanted to see the music world from a different perspective.The opportunity also represented his growth from his starting days in music, at Naparima College, San Fernando.
“My mother wanted me to play an instrument. I started off on drums and two years later my music teacher at the time asked to have a music jam session where I would play the drums and he would play the bass.
"He pulled out his bass guitar and I asked him to play. He showed me a few things and I immediately picked it up," he said.
From there, playing the bass guitar became a freeing experience.
“I like how the bass guitar sits in groove of the music. The way it makes you swing and sway. I can tell you when I hear bass, if bass not helping me to move my waist or give me a certain feel inside, that kind of vibration, then I wouldn’t have liked it."
He describes playing bass as an adrenaline rush.
"I don’t know if you ever put on headphones and you turn the music up all the way up, and you feel like you want no one in your way – it’s that kind of feeling. If I’m in an open field, and I put on my headphones, and I hear a good bass, I can just go running."
Wanting to expand his skills he did not think twice about playing with the Sokah Band when he got the offer.
“I honestly just wanted to play for Nailah, or a soca band, for an experience. I didn’t know what it was like to step out of the gospel arena."
He was not expecting the reaction he received.
"I got a lot of opposition from people and church, and a bit of my family. It wasn’t the best experience, on that side of it, the music itself was cool," he said.
To help understand the opposition he was receiving, he sought guidance from other musicians.
One of them, Jason Bishop, was one of his first bass guitar mentors. While Bishop did not chastise him, which he appreciated, Bishop still did not find it ideal.
Even his spiritual leader had an opinion.
"Even my pastor was saying that he didn’t want me to do it but he was praying for me. My pastor didn’t treat me bad but there were some other people, their treatment changed for the season (when I was in the Sokah Band)."
Under pressure, from all directions, he decided to walk away from the band but does not regret his experience.
“I didn’t judge anybody (who criticised me) or stop loving anybody, I was just like, all these people are human.
"I don't regret playing with the band but I would not go back. There are people under me and watching me. It might be young ones, people aspiring to play bass or just somebody who wants to be a Christian," he said.
Despite his recent challenges, his love for music has not changed and he has even larger goals, for himself.
“I want to get as much creative opportunities in terms of playing for anybody in studio. Right now, Gates Praise is working on new songs and hopefully a new album but I don’t want to just work with Gates Praise.
"If I can go all the way up to the top gospel artistes like Johnathan McReynolds, Fred Hammond or Kirk Franklin. I want to be able to go on tour once or twice with them just so I can experience that tour feeling," he said.
Earlier this year, with Gates Praise, he performed in San Antonio, Texas, at a men's conference. Touring is something he'll like to do more of.
“I like to tour, you meet so many different people and gain different experiences and you learn much more. Touring it eases my mind, just being in a new environment all the time."
Through everything, he also has not lost his love for his Christian faith.
“As a Christian, I would simply put it, is what keeps me sane. Being a Christian has helped me to remain focus. I’ve learnt that your words actually mean something and your words have power."