Upclose – Singer behind the song Spirit of Victory Jephthah Idahosa Aigbe chats with Alex Amos of SelahAfrik
– Talks about his new song Reflections, roles played by his mother & mentor Apostle Joshua Selman in his career
You have heard the song “Spirit of Victory” but are you acquainted with the man behind the song? Jephthah Idahosa Aigbe used to be just a passionate boy going about his business in Zaria, Nigeria. However, young Jephthah had always been hungry for revival.
On a cold December evening, while fellowshipping with couple of friends, “Spirit of Victory” was heard for the first time from the mouth of the young vocalist, backed by words of prophecy for the new dimensions of his life. At the time, Jephthah had neither written nor recorded any song in his life. He did not even consider himself an artiste. He had his fears about venturing into the world of a Gospel music minister, but his mentor and mother’s words proved a worthy stronghold.
“Spirit of Victory” has gone ahead of Jephthah to prepare a place for the young minister in the Gospel music ministry, and Jephthah is catching up these days. He recently won the award for the next rated Gospel music artiste organised by SelahAfrik. In a chat with Alex Amos, Jephthah explains in details the inspiration behind the song, his new release ‘Reflections,” plans for the future and his close relationship with the revered Apostle Joshua Selman.
SelahAfrik: Can we get to meet you?
Jephthah: My name is Jephthah Idahosa Chinedu Aigbe, popularly known as Jephthah Idahosa Aigbe or just Jephthah Idahosa. I was born on the 21st of May, 1998. My father, Mr. Sunday O. Aigbe of blessed memory was a Bini man from Benin, Edo state. My mother, Mrs. Patience Aigbe is an Igbo woman, from Abia state. I was born and brought up in Zaria, Kaduna state Nigeria, where I have lived all my life so far. I am the second of three boys in my family.
SelahAfrik: What was growing up like in your home?
Jephthah: I grew up in a devout Christian family. My parents were both children ministers (my mom still is) and they led us to Christ very early as children and made sure we learnt basic Christian disciplines and values like the importance of having a personal relationship with God, quiet time, periodic fasting, godly character. I however made the decision to seek God beyond mere religious activity and commit my life to Him when I was a teenager. I was about 13 years old. A lot of things led to that decision and I believe that unknown to me, God had His plans for my life and was working through every phase of my life to ensure I took the path He had marked out for me.
SelahAfrik: Tell us about your education:
Jephthah: My schooling has basically been within the confines of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. I started my nursery school at what was then known as the Redeemed Child nursery and primary school (now Redemption Nursery and Primary schoo) which is located within the premises of the Chapel of Redemption, ABU Zaria (which happens to be my home church). In my Nursery two, I was moved to Total Child Bible School, Samaru Zaria, a school belonging to the Children’s Evangelism Ministry (CEM) which is the ministry my parents served under as children ministers. I continued my education there till my Primary 4 after which I went to ABU Staff School. I finished from Primary 6 in 2009 and got admitted into Demonstration Secondary School, ABU Zaria. I finished from DSS ABU in 2015 with the best WAEC results in my set and a good JAMB score of 273. My dad passed on in January 2015, shortly before I wrote my JAMB and WAEC exams. But God helped me through it. I initially applied to study Architecture at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. I wanted a change of environment since I had been in Zaria all my life. But when my dad passed on, I had to reconsider, because I didn’t want to leave my mother who was recently widowed all alone. My elder brother was already schooling in University of Benin and my younger brother was about to be admitted into a boarding school in Kaduna so if I also left home at that point, my mother would’ve been all alone in the house. So I changed my first choice of institution to Ahmadu Bello University.
I was given admission to study Architecture at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 2015.
SelahAfrik: How did music start for you as a career?
Jephthah: My music career basically started during my time in the university. I was appointed as the music director of the band at the university chapel, Chapel of Redemption in 2016. I released my first single ‘Spirit of Victory’ in 2017 when I was in 200 level.
SelahAfrik: Was It that easy for you to combine a course such as Architecture with music?
Jephthah: Architecture is a very demanding course. It wasn’t easy combining it with music and the demands of ministry. Add to the fact that I also had to be the ‘man of the house’ through it all (I stayed at home throughout my time in school). But God’s grace was sufficient. I graduated from BSc Architecture in 2019 with a CGPA of 4.04. I never had a single carryover throughout my time in school. I give all glory to God for this because I know my own efforts alone couldn’t carry me through. But by God’s grace I was able to work hard and balance all the things that called for my attention without breaking under the pressure. I am currently a post-graduate student of Architecture in the same university.
SelahAfrik: Tell us how you came about the song “Spirit of Victory”?
Jephthah: “Spirit of Victory” came in a very unsophisticated way. The song came sometime in December, 2016. I say it “came” because I wasn’t trying to write a song at that time. I didn’t even see myself as an artist or songwriter. I was just passionate about God and music. I had a burning desire for revival; to see a move of the Spirit like the revivals I had read of in books and heard of in messages. I remember I was meditating on the Pentecost experience in the Book of Acts 2:1-2 one day as I was fellowshipping with God when I began to sing the words of the chorus of the song, “Blow blow blow like a mighty wind…”. I had a group of friends that God blessed me with. We often met for extensive times of worship, prayer and fellowship in the word. We met shortly after I received this song and one of us spoke a word by prophecy that God was giving us new songs. That was when I remembered that I had recently received a song. I shared it with them and we sang it together. That was the first time the song was sung in ‘public’ and there was such a great outpour of the Spirit among us that evening. We kept singing those lines for about an hour. That was when I realized that there was something about the song. We usually met to pray together at the beginning of every year and when we met to pray in January 2017, one of us again spoke to me by prophecy that God would have me begin to record and release the songs He gives to me. He said something about God anointing me as a psalmist and using me to release songs that would bless the body of Christ. At the point when he was saying this, I didn’t see myself as an artist. I had never recorded a song; I hardly even knew what a studio looked like. I also didn’t think I was a good singer. But I believed in God’s word and I launched out on the strength of those words. The verse of the song came a few weeks later in a similar way the chorus came. I was walking home from school singing the chorus when I began to sing the verse “We want to see You like a mighty rushing wind…”. I made contacts and found a producer I could afford who was at that time based in Zaria. I spoke to my mother about it and also my mentor Apostle Joshua Selman and they both gave their blessings and support. So I recorded the song. The song was produced by Jakes Akande. It was released on May 14th 2017 and the rest is history.
SelahAfrik: We know the song has become quite widespread. What has been the highlight of releasing the song so far?
Jephthah: I really don’t know if I can pinpoint a single ‘highlight’; there’s so much to be grateful for. I believed God’s word when He said He will take these songs to the nations and that the songs He gives me would be a blessing to the Body of Christ. I believed it, but I had no idea how it would happen, because nobody knew me. Even my close friends didn’t know that I could sing, not to talk of releasing a song. Seeing how God has exceeded my expectations and my abilities, and has taken the song far beyond what I could’ve imagined is a huge highlight. I’ve received feedback from almost every state in Nigeria telling me how they’ve been blessed by the song. I have had people reach out to me from Ghana, Kenya, China, the UK and the USA among other nations because of this song. It’s a humbling experience. I’m still that young Zaria boy but God has made the song a global anthem. It’s a privilege and an honor that I’m forever grateful for. Every time I hear people sing the song, my heart is filled with gratitude to God and I’m always grateful to Him every time someone testifies of being blessed. All glory to Jesus.
SelahAfrik: Tell us about your new single “Reflections”
Jephthah: I wrote “Reflections” sometime in May, 2019. The song was born out of my meditations as the song title implies. It dawned on me that God was not moved by the words coming out of my lips if my heart was not right with Him. I read Mark 7:7 and I saw that worship could be in vain (useless) if it was done in hypocrisy. I was really broken that evening as I pondered on these things and I took my pen and a book along with my guitar and wrote the words of this song. I realized that one day I’ll stand face to face before God and there’ll be no point pretending. No man can look into His eyes and tell a lie. He sees our hearts as they are. These were my sincere contemplation and I just wrote the song as it was laid on my heart. I wrote it as a prayer for God to align the words of my mouths and the thoughts of my heart to please Him. Like the psalmist also prayed “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord” (Psalm 19:14).
SelahAfrik: Can you attempt to measure the reception of this song so far?
Jephthah: I sang the song for the first time before an audience in September, 2019 at the Christian Music Weekend, an annual concert organized by my church. I was amazed at the response to the song. So many people connected to the words and I received a lot of feedback about how the song ministered to them. I realized that believers are in need of more real and sincere songs that we can use to communicate our hearts to Jesus. I knew God wanted me to record and release the song as soon as possible so I started working towards it. I recorded it in December 2019 and released it on the 5th of January, 2020. It has been a blessing to so many since then. I was able to release an official video for the song which premiered in April 2020. God used certain people to make this possible because I didn’t have the resources for a music video. But the director of the video, Victor Egbunu, reached out to me in January after hearing the song and said he felt led to do a video for me, free of charge. And that’s how the video happened.
SelahAfrik: What inspires your writing abilities where music is concerned?
Jephthah: Four things basically; love for God, love for people, the knowledge of the word and the knowledge of music. These four things influence my songwriting. A good number of my songs are just me singing my heart to God. It comes easily to me because it is an overflow from my heart. Some of my other songs like “The King is on His way”, “Just Believe” and “Love” speak directly to people, mostly encouraging people to believe and trust in God’s love, power, and care.
SelahAfrik: Can you say that your your growing up pattern also has its influence on your music?
Jephthah: My background and upbringing got me exposed to the word of God early. Growing up I read a lot of scripture daily. It is still a culture to read the Bible every day. For some years I was engaged in a national bible competition for children that had me memorize many chapters of the bible. I probably memorized more than a hundred chapters back then. To memorize a chapter, you have to sit with it for a number of hours and keep revisiting it so you don’t forget. As a child, it was all about the competition but now I know that God was grooming and preparing me. From that experience I developed a love for the word of God. I began to read the Bible a lot, beyond just preparing for a competition. Being full of the word of God helps me to write songs that are rooted in scripture. Even if I don’t quote the verses directly in the songs, I can show anyone who cares to ask the exact scriptures that each of my songs are built on. I believe that gospel music is more about the message than it is about the music, so we must be very careful to make sure our lyrical content is accurate with scripture.
SelahAfrik: Being so influenced by God’s spirit, do you agree that a good knowledge of the aesthetics has also played a part in the widespread of your music?
Jephthah: Yes, my knowledge of music influences my songwriting, although this too can still trace its origin back to God’s spirit. As a music director, part of my responsibility is to score songs and teach them to my band every week. I’ve done that consistently for three years. So I’ve had the privilege of scoring a good number of songs. I’ve observed and learned a lot from some of the best songwriters in gospel music and it has greatly influenced my own songwriting.
SelahAfrik: Tell us about your relationship with Apostle Joshua Selman
Jephthah: Apostle Joshua Selman is a mentor and father to me. When I decided to seek God beyond religious rituals, God began to connect me with my circle of friends (the guys I spoke of earlier). These guys also had a hunger for more of God. They talked about Apostle often and they introduced me to him via his messages. This was sometime in 2011 and early 2012. I began to listen to few of his messages almost on a daily basis till I knew one or two of the messages almost word for word. In 2012, I sat under Apostle Selman ministration for the first time. My fellowship at school invited him to minister at a program. I loved the fire with which he spoke. It made me want to burn and hunger for God even more. I was really drawn to him. Although I was in Zaria, my parents didn’t permit me to attend Koinonia because the meeting usually closed very late. I felt God would have me meet Apostle and be mentored by him but it didn’t seem possible. I was a young teenage boy with no connections. Around that time, I learnt that Apostle was staying somewhere close to where I lived. One evening in 2013, I and two of my friends were passing by his house and we noticed his door was open. We decided to check if he was home and just greet him. He welcomed us warmly even though he didn’t know us before then and we hadn’t informed him of our visit. We spent about 30 minutes at his place that evening and when we were leaving, he told us that he was looking forward to our next visit. We were elated. That’s how a few years of mentorship began. I would visit Apostle Selman at his house and he would share wisdom and counsel with me, sometimes for hours. Those times of mentorship changed my life. I won’t go into details so this will not be too lengthy, but I am grateful to God for granting me the privilege of access and mentorship at that critical point in my life. I’m doing things that I normally would not be doing at my age if I had not gotten such mentorship early. I’ll always be grateful for that. When God laid on my heart to release my first song “Spirit of Victory”, I was afraid that stepping into music will negatively affect my academics. I spoke to Apostle about it and he assured me and encouraged me to go ahead with it. He also charged me to seek to be excellent by global standards. I committed myself to practice the things I learnt from him and the results are evident.
SelahAfrik: From your close proximity, tell us about the Apostle
Jephthah: Apostle Selman is a man of principles. He genuinely loves God and people. Back then I didn’t know the sacrifice he was making, giving hours of his precious time to mentor this young boy he had no relationship with and no obligation to, but I appreciate it much better now. Apostle Selman is a hard worker. There was never a time I met him idle. He’s always working on something. He is committed to growth and excellence. He honors people, great and small. He has a way of making you feel valued and loved, even when he’s rebuking or correcting you. He places value on prayer and intimacy with the Holy Spirit. He is committed to standing on the word of God and seeing the word come to manifestation in his life and the lives of the people around him. Apostle lives a simple life. He is generous and humble.
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SelahAfrik: What are your future plans concerning your music?
Jephthah: By God’s grace I intend to keep doing music for as long as God permits. I love music. It’s a powerful tool for communicating the life and light of Jesus to the souls of men. There are lots of plans in the pipeline. There’ll be many more songs to come and a number of albums by God’s grace.
My debut album is ready and will be released soon by God’s grace. It’s a compilation of my previously released singles and a number of new songs. The album would’ve been released in May 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted plans. I believe that all things work together for good however. I’m also preparing for my first live concert which by God’s grace will hold in Zaria once things return back to normal. We’re also working towards music videos for some of my songs. I trust God to be able to shoot a Live Recording video for the song “Spirit of Victory” before the end of 2020. The limitation in all these is usually finance. I am an indie artist and I really have no idea where the funding will come from; but that has always been the case from the very beginning when God told me to launch out. So I am confident that God will provide all that is needed to make these projects become realities, the same way He has been providing and making a way from the very beginning.
Apart from putting out songs and videos, I’m also learning music production and I intend to build that in the coming years. I also love teaching music. I’d love to keep teaching and helping to bring up other young music ministers as God gives me grace.
SelahAfrik: What do you think of the Nigerian gospel music industry?
Jephthah: Some of the Gospel music ministers are doing very well and are role models to me personally. Some others are not doing so well. The gospel is about the message and life of Jesus and I believe that every gospel artist is first a minister of the gospel before a musician. Some of us seem to put the cart before the horse. But there are many others who are getting it right. The gospel music industry has in many ways become just an industry to some people. So there’s a lot of competition and wrong motives among many artists in the industry. I believe we can still balance the industry part of what we do without losing sight of the ministry that is entrusted to us.
Also there isn’t an established system or culture of mentorship in the industry. Some veteran artists are doing a good job at this but I believe that more can be done to mentor young and upcoming artists like myself so that they can avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Thank God for a number of platforms that are rising in the industry to help young and promising artists utilize their potentials.
I’m glad to see a number of young gospel artists coming up with unique styles in their music and sound lyrical content. I believe the industry is growing and getting better consistently.
Finally, I am grateful to Selah Afrik for the great work being done in promoting the gospel through music and helping young gospel artists like myself to rise higher and reach a wider audience. Thank you so much for this privilege. May God continue to bless and increase you.
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