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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Top 12 Nigerian Artistes Who Moved From The Church (Choir) To Secular Music

Most Nigerian musicians started from the church, either as singers in choir, praise leaders or as drummers, before moving over to secular music much later in their lives.
Here is a list of top Nigerian musicians that started from the church.

Where did music start for you?

I started music in the church. In the choir at some point… (Pauses) you know what? I don’t want to spill everything yet. I’ll be writing an autobiography, my dad and I are working on it. There’s no name for it yet but he has called it ‘The Making of a Don’

Tell us a little about your background and how you got into music?

I went to Nigeria Military School, Zaria. I always thought I was going to be in the military just like my father but that didn’t happen. But I definitely believe that’s where all my energy is from. I lost my brother who was also in the military to a plane crash when I was still in secondary school and I think that’s where everything changed for me musically. He died in 1994 and I was in school when it happened. I went home for his burial and when I got home, what I saw was that they laid down all his belongings on his bed in his room and the harmonica was one of the items I saw that i was drawn to. I took it back to school and started playing with it. No one taught me how to play the harmonica but the more I played, the better I became. So for me I think that’s where the love for music grew.

I joined the choir and played every instrument I could lay my hands on. At every opportunity I got, I tried to express myself through music. Then I left for the United Kingdom, when I got there I realized that I was more than just a singer and that I had the ability to entertain, so I started trying to study what it took to be an entertainer. It was there I met my friend and partner Don Jazzy and together, we found and built one of Africa’s biggest and most successful record labels ‘Mo’Hits Records’. We came back to Nigeria in 2004 and launched my first single‘Tongolo (What is the koko)’

How did you start your career?

I started with singing. Actually,. My mum was a Choir mistress so I think the seven of us caught the singing bug from her. I’m the third in the row and the second son. From singing, I took to playing musical instruments. And I got into production while in secondary school in Onitsha. . Along the line, I went to three schools when we moved to Enugu. Later, I did prelim in Mass Communication at the Institute of Management and technology (IMT) and then had a direct entry rather than internship.
In the six years that I spent there , I was fully into production because it’s in Enugu that you have legends like Pat Obasi .Then, Glorious Praise was the name of my production and I tried not to be among the noise makers. I produced for only gospel singers back then and I’m still actively involve in Church choir till today. I play the keyboard for my pastor and for my God father. I had a rough time growing so, Dr David Ogbuenu, a pastor put me through school.

The‘Ukwu’singer who was a guest on the 9th episode of ‘The Juice’ season two with the host, Toolz, talked about his success and musical journey.
When asked about his music career. He said:

‘I started from church, before starting up as a backup for Eedris Abdulkareem for three years before exploring my music career.’The singer presently has three albums and one collaborative album with Dem Mama Soldiers.

When did you finally decide you were going to do music?
I started when I was 11 years, in church; and from then on, I’ve been in love with music, and everybody in my family knows that. I dropped an album in church. I performed in church. I go from church to church for performance. I did a couple of concerts and later, when I told my parents that I wanted to take music serious, they refused. They told me if I wanted to do this professionally, I had to stay in school. I had to stay in school and again do music professionally. So, it was like a double task for me. I’m thankful to God for where I am now.

Starting from the church to secular music, what was the transition like?

–If you listen to my songs, you will see I’m always thankful to God. My relationship with God is private; it’s between me and God and I don’t feel anybody should come and judge based on what I do. The music I make is for the pleasure of it. The music I make, I thank my God as well.

"But our musical gene came from the person we call the heart of our family, our mum, Josephine Okoye. She used to be a member of a choir when we were growing up. She would go to rehearsals and she took us along. We would watch her as she sang with the choir. So, we got the music disposition from her. When she was younger, our mum was a seamstress,a tailor. But in later years she was deeply involved in the running of a ministry called Friends Of Jesus Catholic Prayer Ministry. She was a pastor, in her own church. She had wanted Paul to be a pastor, and me a Lawyer. When she started her ministry, we were her choir, her choristers."

BN: How did you get into music?
Banky W: I’d been flirting with music all of my life. I don’t remember exactly how old, but I know I was incredible young when I knew that I wanted to be a singer. What tends to happen is, as a child, you have dreams of what you want to do whether its being a policeman or a fire man but you take care of life. You go to school, work but you don’t do anything about the dream. Everybody who knew me knew that I sang because I was always singing in school or church. When I was in university in New York, I got together with a friend of mine and was like, ‘we are always joking about this music thing, if we don’t put money towards it, it will pass us by’. So at that point I hit the studio, I probably started recording seriously around 2002 and it built it from there.

Iyanya used to sing in his church's choir and was the choirmaster for the children's choir at age 5.
In an an interview, he spoke about his transition from being a chorister to doing circular music:

From rapping as a chorister to R&B/Afrobeat

"I did not think I was prepared for rap. Even when I started as a rapper, I had somebody who wrote the rap for me. It was not like I wrote the rap myself. It was not even my idea. It was the idea of somebody who said he liked the way I carried myself and he thought it would be nice if I rapped. Then I always wore baggy jeans with big t-shirts, so he thought I would make a good rapper. Even back then when I was rapping, I was in the choir."

Wande coal like most great musicians, he started singing in the teenage choir in church where he was with a group member, Chuddy K. He got his break in the Nigerian entertainment industry as a dancer. He continued improving on his vocal skill and got signed to Don Jazzy’s Mo’ Hits Records in 2006.He featured on D’banj’s ‘Rundown’ ‘Funk You Up’ album and on singles like ‘Loke’, ‘Tonosibe’ and ‘Why Me’. His first singles ‘Ololufe’ has been described as one of the greatest love song written bya Nigerian, while his debut album ‘Mushin 2 Mohits’, released in 2009 sold over 3 million copies. He is now a staunch member of Marvin Records.

And yet, before the (free) madness, before the fame, before being made, Terry was merely saved. Saved as in born again C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.

“I come from a christian background. My dad is an elder in church while my mother is a deaconess and at one time she used to be a choir mistress.” It was Mrs. Amanyi that put the love of music in her four children, but it was her first born that took to it the most.
“I used to go all the time to the church with my mom. I already knew how to sing so I ended up in the choir. Quickly, I started developing interest in musical instruments. I picked up the drums, graduated to the keyboards and even played bass [guitar],” Terry recalls holier times.
Tobi Banjoko, make-up artist and video girl, was a member of the congregation at Redeemed Christian Church of God, Praise Palace Parish, where the Amanyi’s worshiped and remembers Terry from that period. “He was a great talent. All he ever wanted to do was music. At that time he was already thinking of going professional with it and he had like close to fifty songs with a lot of them being gospel.”

“[Back] then I was this good boy, this church boy,” Terry tells of his hallowed beginnings.
“I used to do gospel music and love songs. I was already thinking about going secular, but I didn't want to go fully. So I was doing gospel and positive love songs without the 'romance' angle.” His musical and vocal influences at the time - Ron Kenoly, KurtCarr, Kirk Franklin, and [gulp] Celine Dion - would appear incongruous given his current unhinged incarnation. “You had to know what it took in order to sing. Nowadays in the secular music industry we don't sing.”

How did your romance with music start?

Having a father like I had, I got to hear things like “who is going to take after your daddy?” That got me thinking and asking myself if I could.
It started when I was about eight in the children’s choir of my church. While at CMS Grammar School, I led the choir. We would perform at functions. I was also a member of the choir of the Cathedral Church of Christ. Not satisfied, I enrolled for music lessons with the Musical Society of Nigeria, MUSON. I capped it by studying music at the University of Lagos. Some friends and I came together and formed a singing group called Chord Webs. We were doing everything,you just name it. My meeting with Adeniji landed me a regular gig at a night club in Victoria Island.

Waje was born in Akure, Ondo State in Nigeria then moved to Benin city, Edo state where she was raised by her parents, Mr & Mrs Iruobe. As a young and gifted singer, she once sang gospel tunes to the delight of the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa of the Word of Faith Church, Benin who was quite impressed by her gift and decided to cater for her all through her secondary school days. After which she moved to Nsukka for a degree in social work at University of Nigeria. While in school, Waje was very much with her musical side by making sure she performed in school concerts and fellowship. She made sure she listened and learned from legends she describes as her mentors, e.g. Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, etc. culled

Do you think they would have made it big if they had stuck to doing gospel? drop your comment below. Thanks

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