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The year was 2002. The country, Ghana. A nondescript 14-year-old Liberian boy had newly arrived, having fled the civil war in his country, to join thousands of other refugees living in the sprawling Buduburam Refugee Camp. This was his second time seeking refuge in Ghana. The first time was in 1995 when he was only 7. But, this time around, his parents were not around, with only an older sister to care for him.

What does such a refugee boy do to regain a sense of normalcy back in his young life, which had been uprooted by the violence of war one too many times? Enroll in school? Yeah, he did that. Hang out with his peers? He also did some of that. What about joining a church and becoming the choir director? Out of the question? Well, not if you’re a 14-year-old with a precocious aptitude for music.

So, that’s exactly what William Sanvee did!

“Even though I had been involved with the church choir in Liberia, after we fled to Ghana because of the war, that was really when I grew up both mentally and physically, and also matured as a musician. That’s when I started spending all my time doing music. And, it was when I became, possibly, the youngest choir director in Ghana, who was also a foreigner,” said Sanvee.

A Childhood Imbued With Music

But, for those closest to Sanvee, it was no surprise that he would assume the responsibility to lead a church choir at such a young age, because, even as a child, he displayed a natural aptitude for music, and had been singing in church since he was 3.

In fact, truth be told, this was not Sanvee’s first time leading a church choir. It was something he started doing as a 12-year-old in his native Liberia. And, by

“simply having a dream is not enough…you have to work hard to make your dream become a reality”
2kee, Liberian singer & songwriter

then, he had been a member of the choir for several years, refining his musical talent under various choir directors. He had even joined an a cappella group and began making forays into doing music professionally before fleeing the violence in his country.

“I give my mom credit, including my dad, because they really liked listening to music. And, as a kid growing up, we used to have devotions at home and it was easy for me to pick up the melodies of the songs and that’s when I realized I had this gift,” said Sanvee of the discovery of his musical talent as a child.

“And, by the time I was 8, I started writing songs. I would listen to songs by artists like Whitney Houston, Brian McKnight, BabyFace, Michael Bolton, and R. Kelly, write my own lyrics over the melodies and then sing my own version,” he added.

So, by the time 14-year-old Sanvee arrived in Ghana, he had already spent his childhood refining his God-given talent. And, his was a talent that had been forged through the fire because, during those turbulent years of his childhood when his country was caught up in a whirlwind of violence, music became what he referred to as “a place of solace.”

In Ghana, Sanvee would leave the refugee camp almost daily to travel to Accra, located 27 miles away, and other cities just to get to choir practices. Sometimes, he made the trip on an empty stomach, other times, he had to eke out his fare and jostle for a seat on buses, but rather than quitting, he forged ahead. It is an experience he credits with making him more disciplined, which is an attribute that has helped him stay focus and work hard to reach his pinnacle as a musician. His dedication paid off because he would meet Sammy “McVangelist” Crentsil, a gospel singer and composer, who taught him to play the keyboard and drum, and develop into a better musician.

Becoming 2KEE To Share His Music With A Broader Audience

After several years of living as a refugee boy without his parents and honing his musical skills in the church choir, Sanvee finally made it to the US in January 2007 to reunite with his family.

“The day I arrived in the US is one that I’ll never forget because I was finally able to reunite with my mom and the rest of my family. After many years of my mother working to get us to join them in the States, we were a family again and that was such a wonderful feeling,” said Sanvee.

Shortly after arriving in the US, Sanvee joined the Christ Jubilee International Ministry, his mother’s church, and began helping out in the music department. Later, he also started contributing as a vocal director to the Boston Night of Worship, a gospel musical event founded by Zenzo Matoga, who Sanvee said, also became his musical mentor.

Then, in 2010, during a time of meditation, Sanvee said he experienced a premonition to use his musical talent to reach a wider audience. And, almost as a sign, a day or so after that, he received a call from a close friend, who wanted to connect him with a producer named Bam Savage, founder of WickedEye Entertainment.

“My life changed from then on. And, I did my first record with Bam for my mixtape called ‘1st Round’ which initially had 10 songs, but I’ve since created a reprised version of that and it now has 18 songs, featuring all my collaborations as an incentive to my fans,” said Sanvee, who adopted the artistic moniker “2kee”, an iteration of “Tukee”, his childhood pet name.

In uncanny ways, 2kee’s evolution as a musician shares parallels with musicians such as Whitney Houston, Brian McKnight and R. Kelly, who also got their musical start in the church, a foundation he cherishes and which still influences him as an artist.

“If it wasn’t because of me starting to do music in the church, I wouldn’t have the discipline I have now as a writer. I write the lyrics to all my songs and try to refrain from using profanity in my music as much as I can because of my foundation in the church,” he pointed out.

But, rather than simply sharing a musical foundation with those great musicians, who he idolizes, 2kee has been working with Savage over the last 5 years to craft original beats and melodies that he hopes will propel his musical trajectory, not unlike his idols.

“My upcoming album is called ‘Intermission’ and ‘Till It’s Gone’, which I just released, is the first single off the album. Most of the beats on the album are originals, crafted by Bam and the production team at WickedEye Entertainment. The album will be released in the last half of the year but before that, I’ll be releasing a couple of singles from the album,” said 2kee.

The evolution of the artist called 2kee has been a torturous and improbable one that would have certainly caused many others to falter and cast their musical aspirations into the dustbin of despondency. But not 2kee.

“As an artist striving to reach my pinnacle – and I know how it feels when people are not enthusiastic about your dreams – but for any young person with a dream, I’ll tell them to never give up on it. But, simply having a dream is not enough. You have to realize that no one else is going to fulfill it for you so you have to work hard to make your dream become a reality. And, you also have to be humble and willing to listen to people. I believe it is those things that will make me become successful,” said 2kee.

William “2kee” Sanvee has undoubtedly travelled a circuitous journey towards realizing his dream. But, like every journey of a thousand miles, he took his first steps many years ago, and even if one cannot predict how close to the end he is, it is not hard to see that he is farther along his journey than he’s ever been!

To follow 2kee and find out more about his upcoming album, you can find him on Facebook. And, to sample more of his music, check out his Youtube and Soundcloud pages.

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