It’s not all about the D’Banjs, the Banky Ws and the 2Faces. No, Gospel music has become a major part of Nigerian music, and it has its own heroes, home and abroad. They have soul-lifting songs in their albums, many of which are a delight to listen to and have won awards over time. Yinka Ayefele, Lara George, Foluke Umosen, Soji Israel, Segun Obe, Samsong, The Infinity, The Midnight Crew, Da Rooftop MCs, Solomon Lange, Jeremiah Gyang, Jardel,The Bossman, Bouqui, Segun Ogundeko (The Lord’s trumpeter), Buchi, Sammie Okposo and others, are well known for their gospel hip hop styles. ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM takes a look at some of the most rated in the industry today, within and outside the country.
Award winning Nigerian gospel artiste, Uche ‘Samsong’ Mogekwu is an Abuja-based artiste who can be termed “successful” in every sense of the word, thanks to radio hits like ‘Bianule’ and a handful of accolades. He won The Psalmist Award in 2000, and was nomination in the Best Gospel Artiste of the Nigerian Entertainment Award (NEA) in New York in 2008. He has graced the stage with Gospel greats like Marvin Winans, Donnie McClurkin, Panam Percy Paul, Donell Jones, Kenny Latimore, 112, 2Face, D’Banj, Faze, and Styl Plus.Recently, he was one of the artistes contracted by Neighbour 2 Neighbour to record the ‘Song For Peace’.
His third and most ambitious album yet, ‘The World of My Dreams’ was released in 2007. It featured a re-make of Onyeka Onwenu’s 1987 mega hit ‘One Love’, in which he performed a duet with her. The CD also featured a duet, ‘Live Right’, with international superstars Styl-Plus. He embarked on an international tour to promote his CD, with stops at South Africa, The UK and Germany. In Germany, he recorded and performed with famous German gospel producer and artiste, Chris Lass. Samsong is currently working on his new CD.
He has come 10 years strong since his first release, ‘Wellu Wellu’. The UN Youth Ambassador recently inked a recording deal with Oklahoma’s Tate Music Group (TMG) Records. As part of the signing, according to Okposo’s camp, TMG plans to release Okposo’s new album, ‘The Statement’, to the international market. The album will be re-produced by Kevin Bond, a ten-time Grammy Award winner, without losing Okposo’s Nigerian authenticity. Talks are also currently ongoing with management of several American gospel artistes (Chevelle Franklyn, Mary Mary, Israel Houghton, Kirk Franklin and Deitrick Haddon) for collaborations with Okposo on some tracks in the album.
“The deal to release my album internationally and find it in every music store across the world is a welcome development, but it doesn’t mean my previous albums were not sold outside Nigeria. Just that it was on a small scale. We believe the new deal will open more doors and boost our image internationally. It is long overdue”, said Okposo about the historic deal.
True no one has heard from them since the release of their album ‘Igwe’, but the rave reactions which the masterpiece attracts has refused to cease.
The ‘Igwe’ album has taken them around the world and after two years, they’re enjoying the fruits of their labour.
They were the only gospel group nominated among Africa’s finest at the prestigious Ghana Music Award held in Ghana in July. Presently, they are back in the studio working on an album which, according to the group’s assistant coordinator, Mike Abdul, “Will be a bigger hit than ‘Igwe’”, as it will feature a team of selected producers, led by Wole Oni, who produced our first hit album, ‘Igwe’. It will drop this year, with a bang . Promise.”
Her music career started at the age of eight in the children’s choir. She moved on to the adult choir when she was fifteen.
She became choir director at eighteen because she could teach the three parts namely soprano, alto and tenor.
In December 2003, she signed on with Alec Music and released her first solo album as a female artiste. Kefee’s ‘Branama’ sold nine hundred thousand audio cassettes and over two million copies of CDs and VCDs within six months
The ‘Branama’ album also won her several awards: TOMA Award, Nigeria Entertainment Award and the Youth Excellence Award. In 2005, she released the sophomore album ‘Branama 2’ which featured Nigeria top acts like Paul Play Dairo, Sunny Neji, Pastor Goody Goody, Sound Sultan, 2Shots, S.I.D, Gordons, Recky D, Rhymzo. The same album got her nominated for the Best African Traditional Artiste at the KORA Awards in South Africa in 2005. She eventually won the highly coveted prize. Her recent single ‘Kokoroko’ in which she featured Timaya and ‘Eguono’, in which she featured young rapper Skales.