– Including hints on the single “Hail My King” featuring Frank Edwards, Kenny K’ore and Eben…
Quite a number of years have passed since SilverBird Television and Syndicated broadcast of Soundcity advertised the ThoroughBreds debut video – “StreetHop” which also had Obiora Obiwon, spitting some 16’s on it. Little did anyone know that who we were watching was the birth of one of the most successful R&B artiste Nigeria has known… Considering the fact that so many artistes have had failed attempt in the genre.
From “Oyinye” to “Obi Mo,” Obiwon’s distintive tune ruled the airwaves but when we thought we had seen the best of this banker turned R’n’B crooner, He dropped an album that raised the question; “why so much Gospel song in a R’n’B album by Obiwon. The next 4 years gave a lingering answer to the silent question. Obiwon has rebranded and crossed over to Gospel Music!
SelahAfrik‘s Alex Amos engaged the Gospel Music Minister who is about to launch his new album, “Gold Water” in a chat, it was quite intense as Obiwon did not only talk about the album but also went into the intricate details of his transformation to full fledge Gospel Music Ministry. You will also find his definition of Gospel music and secular quite intelligible with the right amount of spiritual touch to it. He feels his definition may bring him some controversies but I am of the opinion that he was objective and therefore, was not prejudiced.
SelahAfrik: I guess the real question everyone wants to know and wants you to shed more light on is why the transition to Gospel music in an era where everyone is blinded by the facade that only entertainment is raking the big bucks?
Obiwon: I got genuinely born again in 2008. That was after I had already made some mark as an R’n’B artiste. I initially resisted going all out gospel and simply wanted to sing a few christian songs here and there. However I had no rest or complete peace until I eventually gave the very thing I was still holding back, which was my music to the One who gave all to save me and wanted me to use it for His glory.
SelahAfrik: What or when was the turning point in your career? Tell us the events that led to this decision.
Obiwon: After my first album was released and we scored a hit with “Onyinye”, I had to leave my regular job then and was blessed to win two major awards almost immediately. I got involved in the “entertainment lifestyle” and I started realising that I would most likely end up having an end similar to the celebrities and artistes I used to read about and look up to. I wasn’t making much money then but I found myself right in the middle of this lifestyle and not being able to resist it by mere willpower. It’s not like I was righteous before then, but I found myself going deeper into the carefree and careless living that the fame and industry provided. I believed I had a powerful gift from God and had an idea where He would take it to, and I wanted Him to be the One to take me and my gift places. However I also knew the life I was leading then wasn’t pleasing Him. One thing I’m very grateful for is that God didn’t allow me to become so big and comfortable then, I probably wouldn’t have done the soul searching that led me to Him. So I gave Him my life first, and then realised that to truly walk with Him and experience His power, I would have to give Him everything. After I did this He started revealing Himself to me and His plans for me like never before.
SelahAfrik: Compare the experiences being a secular RnB artiste and now, a gospel artiste.
Obiwon: For me, I believe I’ve been called into gospel music as a ministry and that requires a lot of walking in faith, focusing on the transformation of lives and winning of souls more than anything else. It requires placing these goals way above yourself, personal needs, your brand or musical ambitions and at the same time not compromising excellence. The point of emphasis in any other type of musical endeavour is usually self, fame, accolades, business profits or for some simply the love of music, whether as a secular artiste or a gospel artiste. It’s not like having any of these things is bad of itself, it’s about the point of focus, motive and what the driving force is. I believe that in true ministry, it’s about living for something way bigger than you and constantly putting self in the background, when on stage, everywhere else and in every decison. That involves a lot of sacrifice, a lot of patience and lots of endurance, but God gives strength through Grace and He is a rewarder.
SelahAfrik: Obviously you struggled with the decision of becoming a full gospel artiste, can you shed more light on how this reflected on your debut album as a gospel artiste – “Rebirth.”
Obiwon: Yes as indicated earlier it was a struggle I had to deal with before that album was made. It was an album I was already planning on and writing songs for even before I put out my first album. I initially called it “The Renaissance” and my first album was supposed to be like a stop gap that would get me ready for it. However after the decision to go gospel, the entire album had to be recreated and God started teaching me how to minister to Him in song and to others as well. One thing became clear as I journeyed along to know God and His purpose for me, and it’s that I’m also called to minister songs that speak to various aspects of life from a Christian’s point of view. However it’s important that the world firstly and constantly identifies me as a minister of the gospel of Christ, so praise and worship from thereon began to form the bulk of my repertoire.
SelahAfrik: You took a 4-year hiatus after the album, what where you up to, during the break?
Obiwon: Basically learning the ropes, growing in God. Despite my zeal the Lord has ensured that I’m not coming out as new wine in old wineskin, or new piece of cloth sown unto an old piece. There is a place of remolding and remodeling for anyone truly called to minister the gospel. It took exactly a year after the release of my first gospel album before I was invited to minister at a first gospel event outside my local church circles. Glory to God we have been learning, growing and making impact in various places through Him since then.
Obiwon: “Gold Water” speaks of something out of the ordinary, a supernatural, incredible and amazing sight. It speaks of restoration and glory at once, something that only God can do and take the glory for. I’m hoping some of the songs and music will be able to do a better explaining than I can do with words.
SelahAfrik: What next after the album? Any concert, tour, project we should be aware of?
Obiwon: We are believing God for a concert, videos, then other projects that have been lying in wait that “Gold Water” will give birth to. Somehow we are constantly on tour and we’re believing God for more openings, then perhaps a dedicated album tour.
SelahAfrik: May God perfect all that in Jesus name… Amen. We have heard the song “Testify” which featured Mike Abdul, which other artistes and producers should we be expecting on the album?
Obiwon: There’s a song called “Hail My King” that is featuring the incredible talents of Frank Edwards, Eben and Kenny Kore at once. That should be something for young urban music lovers to look out for. There is worship, praise, a love song, as well as other major collaborations to the glory of God.
SelahAfrik: How do you juggle being a minister and also taking care of your family?
Obiwon: My family is part of my ministry and a source of inspiration. God blesses us directly and indirectly through ministry so they both complement each other. We try to be the best we can for God in family and in ministry and trust Him to take care of us. I’ve been blessed with a loving, supportive wife who believes entirely in my mandate.
SelahAfrik: What do you do for relaxation?
Obiwon: Spend some quality time with wifey, play peek-a-boo, jump over and other fun games with my one year-old daughter.
SelahAfrik: Are you a football fan like most Nigerian men? Which club do you support?
Obiwon: The Nigerian National team Super Eagles only. They are the only ones that I make out time to support and watch when I can. Following club football is quite time consuming.
SelahAfrik: What’s the most recent gadget you bought?
Obiwon: A phone.
SelahAfrik: What are you most comfortable wearing, suit or jeans and T-Shirt?
Obiwon: I’m comfortable in all. The audience I’m ministering to mostly determines my look. However I brand mostly with an urban formal look.
SelahAfrik: Yes, I have noticed. If you were to rate your top 3 artiste, who amongst the majority will make your list?
Obiwon: That’s difficult because there are diversities of artistes and styles making impact locally, regionally and internationally. Any artiste truly touching and transforming lives with good music are my favorite.
SelahAfrik: Tell us about your perception of Gospel music juxtaposing it with secular music
Obiwon: True gospel music is music that has the Spirit of God in it, whether praise, worship, love song, inspirational, HipHop, Rock, any genre and any topic that is within the principles of the Christian lifestyle. The lyrics is the first indicator but it’s not always all about the lyrics, you may not be able to place your hand on it but you know it’s there and it’s from the right source. Purely secular music is from the spirit of man from which various motives, thoughts and influences can proceed, sometimes good, mostly evil, since God’s Word indicates that the heart of man is desperately wicked. The lyric also is the first indicator. In this sense, it is possible to make a song with gospel lyrics, but is actually secular in a sense, depending on the motive and the spirit. It’s also important to note that God can choose to use anyone anytime and as He pleases. Certainly anyone who has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in them and the right motives will produce mostly Spirit-filled songs. I pray my definitions don’t cause controversy and pray God will continue to direct and give us His music ministers Spirit-filled songs.
SelahAfrik: Do you think Gospel artistes are effectively taking their place in the music industry?
Obiwon: The gospel music industry should be the standard for any other music industry anywhere in the world. We are called to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, so we should be influencers and with our own pace, not necessarily to “take our place”. I’m always of the opinion that we should produce the most creative sounds, styles, beats and dance steps, since our Heavenly Father is the Source of all creativity. We actually should be so creative that the secular industry copies from us. What we need most is unity, sacrificial love and the power of agreement. If we’re united in purpose, then there’s absolutely nothing that can be an obstacle for us. It’s also important to note that the responsibility for lifting gospel music does not only belong to the music ministers, but rather the Church and the entire body of true believers. To do this means that a lot of squabbles between musicians and churches should seize and there should be understanding on both sides. However it surely should start from the music ministers coming together, having one voice, doing things together. There is a reason why Christ prayed “that they may be One”.
SelahAfrik: Give a Shoutout
Obiwon: To the entire body of true believers, and my family, friends, management, everyone directly or indirectly linked to and supporting my vision… thank you and remain rapturable!