This article explores Pentecostal sounds and voice in postgenocide Rwanda. It centers on the question of why gospel singers were criticized for crossing over into “secular” music after beginning their careers in the church. Joining scholarship that examines the relationship between media and religion, it suggests that in Rwanda debates about the kind of music Pentecostal artists should perform must be contextualized in relation to (1) a Pentecostal “theology of sound,” or the belief that particular music and sound practices bring individuals closer to God; and (2) changes within Rwanda's postgenocide media landscape. The liberalization of the media in 2002, coupled with advances in recording technology, created new possibilities for Pentecostals to become individual “gospel stars,” as opposed to choir members, in ways that they had been unable to before, prompting debates about the nature of the postgenocide Pentecostal voice itself. These debates are considered alongside Pentecostal radio, and within a wider context in which the Rwandan government has become increasingly concerned with policing “noise pollution.” Paying closer attention to the materialities of sound and voice helps us trace the specific ways in which Pentecostalism attempts to “go public” and the kind of public it calls into being.

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