With a battered image abroad, gospel music is a pill, out of few others, that’s remedying Nigeria’s negative image globally, says Philadelphia Ekesiena, a fast-rising faith-based musician. In this interview with Chinedu Ibeabuchi, she airs her views about that niche of music industry and why she delves into that segment amidst mouth-watering options
When did it dawn on you that singing was your forte?
I joined the children’s choir at a very tender age and became one of the best at the time. While in high school, I still kept the zeal and during university days, it dawned on me that singing was my thing and decided to do it for real.
Do you play any instruments?
Not at all.
What inspired the title of your song, ‘He Came Through’?
There was a time in my life when I suffered depression and recurring mood swings. Then my cousin came up with the song and we co-wrote it. The lyrics of the song are expression of my emotional state then.
How long did it take to write and produce the song?
It took about five years because we had the song since my university days and decided to revamp it four years after graduation.
What are your challenges as a gospel artiste and how do you cope with them?
Really, it’s not easy putting out good music. There is a lot put into the whole process of producing, engineering, and promotion. Having to keep up with the financial commitments has been a major challenge but somehow God makes a way and things are sorted.
What other talents do you have outside music?
I’m very good with fashion such that I have plans to set up a fashion outfit soonest.
Do you have any role models either in the gospel genre or music generally?
I love Maranda Curtis. I love Efe Nathan as well. Efe’s vocal strength is one which I covet. So I keep working hard every day.
What informed your choice of gospel music over secular?
I grew up in church where gospel music is everything. I’ve known from childhood that I want to do gospel music even though I’m a wide listener and I listen to diverse genres. So yeah, the love for gospel came naturally.
What’s your assessment of gospel music in Nigeria?
Gospel music in Nigeria is still growing; it’s got a lot of potential even across West Africa and the entire world. What we have so far are a lot of very talented gospel artistes but need help in the area of promotion, distribution and production. Radio stations, TV stations and others need to promote us more. That way, we will get the maximum exposure. So, it’s fast-rising and we’ve got room to improve, but we are doing well.
What gives you joy?
I love good music, fashion, intellectual conversations and honest people. When I’m not singing, I’m surely checking out new fashion styles and trends.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time when you thought of doing something completely different?
Well, as a child I did music for fun. I didn’t think of becoming a professional someday but I kept sharpening up the craft. It was when I went to the university to study that I realised that my love for music is beyond just doing it for fun and that I’d like to do it full time. So my undying love for music inspired my decision to go into it fully.
What turns you off?
Lies and deceit.
What are the things you won’t be caught doing?
Lying, backbiting, extortion.
The gospel music industry is packed with several established acts. How do you intend to stand out?
I have a sound I’m set to project. I want to be as original as possible, with that I’m sure I’ll stand out and in turn break even.
Are you not scared that gospel music could only bring you fame and not sustainable income?
I am never scared. As a child of God, we are not meant to be scared. I have plans for show business and the more technical side of the industry. Being famous for the right reason is good and I am sure sustainable income will come within the territory
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself proclaiming the name of Jesus around the world and anywhere my feet step on. I’m sold out to making Jesus famous through my songs as that’s the whole essence of salvation.
You are beautiful. Tell us about your ideal man.
He has to be God-fearing, intelligent and tall.
Are you in a relationship?
I am currently not in a relationship as I just want to concentrate on my career for now. I have a very loving and supportive family.
Take us into your family life?
I’m the third of six children. I had my B.Sc in International Economics at the Ternopil National Economic University, Ukraine in 2015. Growing up, my parents noticed that I was always humming and sometimes singing to songs. So, they encouraged me and I developed it with the help of vocal trainers and other professionals.
Has anyone ever shared a testimony about the impact of your music/voice in their lives?
Several people have shared with me. My music is a source of inspiration, healing and motivation to people. As for the voice, I get that quite often as I am a member of the choir in my Church.
What’s your view about the reception of Nigerian gospel music globally?
Gospel music is bringing popularity and positive attention to Nigeria. A few Nigerian artistes are already representing us well and there is room for more artists. Many artistes are now working with reputable record labels who can help improve and promote their work.