Samson Uche Mogekwu, popularly known as Samsong, is an award winning gospel artist, in this chat with Uche Uduma and Nanna Selkur, he talks about his passion for gospel music.
Can you tell us about your self?
Am an accountant by training and by calling, am a gospel music artist. I attended Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma and I worked with a bank for sometime then I resigned from the bank and went into gospel music full time. Interestingly, am from a very comfortable home and am the seventh of nine children and I grew up knowing God. I also gave my life to Christ at age 14, 15 and since then it has been very interesting.
Who would you say influenced your growing up?
A lot of people influenced my growing up, like the late Papa Benson Idahosa. I was under his praise team for some years and watching him the way he did his things was a major influence both in my life as a Christian, and in growing up.
Also, as I grew up, I met people like Chris Oyakhilome, he’s been a great influence in my life as a Christian gospel music artist. Musically, I have people like Donnie Maclurkin, Marvin Winas Kenneth Smith, they have really been a great influence. I have a lot of influences I can’t start calling all the names now, but these are the basic ones.
How did your journey into the gospel music industry begin?
I started singing at the age of eight, then I was in the Church choir, and at the age of 15, I released my first album with my church choir. In 1990, I started a group called the prince creation. It was filed under the Ivory Music Label and then in 1996 the album was released. In 2000/2001, I released my first solo album; Count Your Blessings. Two years later, I did my second album titled, Still counting, and since then, it’s been quite interesting.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a collaborative album with one of our major gospel music artists. We are doing an album together, while I will be working on another album simultaneously releasing singles and shooting videos. Also, I just flagged a clothing line, Boogie Down by Samsong. We make lovely shirts, we make suites and a lot of nice stuffs, I just started that like three months ago.
What’s the most outrageous experience you have ever had with your fans?
Well, I went to a school and then I was singing, by the time I finished and was leaving, the whole crowd came running after me. When I turned and saw the whole crowd running towards me, I also, had to run. It was a funny thing you know, everybody was running, it was as if the world was pursuing me. It was outrageous and it was interesting it just shows that the people liked it.
How would you describe your kind of music?
Contemporary gospel, R&B music.
Who is your favourite Nigerian gospel music artist?
Dr. Panam Percy Paul. He inspires me a lot so he still remains one of my favourites. Then internationally, Marvin Winnas.
The Nigerian music industry is not as big as the circular music industry. Why is it so and how can it be better?
We need to understand something. Our message as gospel music artists is not readily acceptable so when you say the gospel music industry is smaller than the circular music industry I do not believe that. It’s just that our message is not readily accepted.
The world wants to hear about violence, the world wants to hear about sex and all that, but we have a message, we have a message we want the world to hear. So for us to hear and be able to spread the message, we need to be very subtle. Subtle in the sense that the bible says; We need to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove.
That means we need to package our music in the way that people will be able to accept it. It might sound like what they hear and what they like to dance to, but then our message that is embedded in the music is different by the time they are singing and saying Jesus is lord, they are making a confession before you know what is happening, with the mouth, confession is made and with the heart unto salvation, you understand!
So, for us to reach out to more people, I believe that we need to package ourselves in a very interesting way so that people out there will appreciate it. Some people just want to hear the beat they don’t even want to listen to the song so when we put our message which is God’s message in it, you know it is interesting and everyone will be dancing, I believe that’s one of the ways we are reaching out to the world.
I was once given a contract to sing songs but I refused, they said I was a fanatic I simply told them that talent, knowledge and beauty fails but what you do for God does not fail. And I am a fan of Jesus Christ. Every man has the ability to be everything he wants to be in life. In the next two, three years, I believe Samsong will still remain one of the best things that have happened to gospel music in Nigeria
What message do you have for upcoming artists?
I always say that we love singing, we love money, we love the glory but I dare to say that for everything I should do put the love and the passion for that thing first. Samsong says I love to sing. If you love to act put passion to it, if you are a comedian, put passion to it.
The truth is that when you wait the first year, the second year and money is not coming and you are driven by money, you will easily get frustrated.
But if you are driven by passion for what you do, by the time you wait the first year, second year, third year if money is not forth coming the love of that thing keeps you going because you know that if you diligently keep doing it, money will definitely come, the fame will come and the glory will come but you need something to keep you going and that is passion.
So everyone of you there aspiring to be an artist, comedian actor or actress, put the passion of what you do in front of you then money will come.