His soulful, tuneful song fills the air as would the mellifluous voice of a singing canary in the woods. His heart bursts with praise. His visage irradiates with exhilaration as his enraptured audience scream “hallelujah” in unison. Tim Godfrey is a gift. He’s a giant with a graceful voice. Against the storm of a fearful past, he’s living a fearless life; today and into the future. As he talks about his past, his passion and his ‘Fearless’ project and concert, Vanessa Obioha captures Godfrey’s true-life story
The ‘Fearless’ show is August 23, 2020. Write the date down. It’s a show like no other. The brains behind it offers the ultimate appetizer.
As calm as a running brook in the countryside, he looks without fright with delight at the prospect of what lies ahead of him. Momentarily, he pauses. But when he speaks he recalls with frightening flashback a past he wasn’t proud of. Life has dealt with him in various ignomIous manners.
Today, he has risen above the ashes of those persistent, painful past. Rather than a drooling face, his shoulders are high with a conqueror’s smile.
Tim Godfrey is making things happen on stage and off the stage. His soul is brimming with ideas and opportunities that not even the COVID-19 pandemic can stop. To be sure, he’s had his own fair share of the havoc wreaked by the virus.
Listen to Godfrey sing: his soulful, tuneful song will fill your lungs with renewal and reorientation. You can imagine him as a canary singing mellifluously in the woods. It feels heavenly. His heart bursts with praise and his visage irradiates with exhilaration leaving an enraptured audience scream “hallelujah” in unison.
For those who know him, Godfrey is a gracious gift. He’s a giant with a graceful voice. Against the storm of his fearful past, he’s living a fearless life today and into the future. As he talks about his past, his passion, and his ‘Fearless’ project and concert, he reminds the world that there are boundless opportunities even in life’s darkest moments.
“People only know a fraction of my story,” he acknowledges.
The record label owner of Rox Nation (a digital market company) is the organizer of the talent show, Soundcheck Africa. His signature event ‘Fearless,’ a music and theatrical production that conveys an inspirational message will hold its fifth edition today, August 23.
Well, because of the social gatherings restrictions in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the glitzy event will be a virtual occasion; a show initially booked for June 14 at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos. But there’s nothing to fear.
“’Fearless’ is a product of all my experiences,” reveals Godfrey, who was once held in the vice of life’s vicissitudes.
“It is okay to fail,” he philosophizes.
“But don’t tell me something is impossible. It sparks something in me.”
Talking about ‘Fearless,’ he adds, “I remember the first name I wanted to give the show was ‘Rest in Peace.’
But his team kicked against that graveyard title.
“I have very weird names,” admits Godfrey. “But the nicest name we came up with was ‘Fearless.’
“I tell people that it is okay to be afraid. But go ahead and do what you have to do. Even the word ‘fear’ is a blessing if you understand how to use it,” he advises.
For him, being fearful can be an obstacle like a fence standing in one’s way.
“It’s only when you’re afraid and running away from someone who wants to harm you that you will jump a high fence that ordinarily you will not jump,” he says.
Godfrey notes that there’s success hidden in fear and will require a persistent and courageous person to see beyond the ugly facade of life.
“There is so much success hidden in fear. You have to be able to unravel it before you can maximize the beauty and blessings of fear. So it’s okay to be afraid. But don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do.
“What you can achieve when you are afraid, you cannot achieve when you are safe or in a comfort zone.”
In this year’s ‘Fearless’ show, Godfrey and his team are exploring the theme, ‘Prisoners.’
It is little wonder that they are sharing on social media their mugshots. That’s a hint of what fans can expect from the show.
Why the prisoners’ theme?
“Coronavirus has kept us on lockdown. So, we will portray prisoners trying to break away from the bondage,” he explains.
Godfrey’s life is multi-layered with various experiences. Each stage of his life is laced with mind-blowing memories.
A gracious gospel singer, his 2018 hit song, ‘Nara,’ featuring American gospel artiste, Travis Greene, recorded 14 million views on YouTube and since then Godfrey hasn’t rested on his laurels.
The ‘Nara’ crooner considered cancelling the show due to the pandemic but later changed his mind. He believes the show will put smiles on faces and heal hearts that have been shattered by the pandemic.
Preparations began in earnest for ‘Fearless’ immediately the lockdown restrictions were partially lifted in Lagos. He had conducted countless rehearsals to deliver an exceptional show. Artistes lined up for this edition include Sonnie Badu, JJ Hairston, Maranda Curtis, Dr. Tumi, Phil Thompson, Nigeria’s Panam Percy Paul, Preye, among other artistes.
Godfrey, incidentally will also clock 41 on August 26 and hopes to take a break from his gruelling work routine.
As one of the leading gospel artistes in Nigeria, perhaps, Africa, Godfrey has toured many parts of the world, ministering to people. He enraptures audiences with his charisma and energy on stage. Some call him “the Kirk Franklin of Nigeria.”
However, Godfrey says he is who he is: Tim Godfrey.
A gifted artiste, introduced to music at an early age, singing and leading choirs in the church. His musical prowess was illustrated when he was made a music director at the age of 15. After experiencing various unfortunate episodes in life, he had his breakthrough in a church at Oshodi, Lagos. He was hired as a music director.
He offered given that particular appointment on a silver platter though.
Godfrey recalls, “I kept going to the church until one of the leaders noticed me. He decided to give me a try and you know how anointing falls on you when it is your last opportunity to prove yourself,” he enthuses.
“Guess what?” the effervescent Godfrey says, “After dazzling them with my skills on instruments and vocal, they employed me.”
Well, that only earned him a pittance. But for a Godfrey who had been living from hand to mouth, that meant a million bucks.
“My first salary was N3,000,” he reveals. “But, at the time, it seemed like N300 million.”
From that moment, however, he climbed over the fence of fear, became fearless. He boasted of the best choir in his neighbourhood. Fame beckoned him.
“We went to perform in different churches. I was the main guy everybody wanted,” he relishes the memory.
During that period, he wanted to imitate Kirk Franklin to add swag to his soaring success.
“I love Kirk Franklin and Hezekiah Walker very much and I tried to emulate them.
“They used to wear these colourful suits so I decided to make a similar suit,” he confesses.
A colourful suit he did make for himself, however, it wasn’t the kind Franklin or Walker would have been proud of.
He narrates, “But it (the suit) turned out horrible. It was as if it was made by a carpenter and everyone laughed at me.”
A Flashback: From Fearful to Fearless
The second child of his parents, the Anambra State indigene grew up in Nasarawa, a slum in Kaduna State where electricity was a luxury.
He recalls being a bus conductor (his father was a commercial bus driver), selling fruits on the streets of Kaduna, trekking to school without footwear, watching his father die among other vicissitudes.
“I don’t think I have ever mentioned this before,” says Godfrey betraying no emotion.
“I went to five universities. But I never graduated from any. But that’s a story for another day.”
However, he was offered free admission to Madonna University in Okija, Anambra State. Shortly after being admitted, he opted out. He felt the rules and regulations of the institution weren’t meant for him.
“It was the best thing to do at the time,” Godfrey acknowledges.
“I know I’m a rebel and I would cause trouble in the school.”
With a bleak future staring him in the face, he took a plunge and headed for Lagos: the land of dreams. He was going to stay with one of his older siblings there.
“That’s how I went to the park from the university,” says Godfrey.
He narrates what happened next, “I remember I didn’t have enough money to pay for a seat. You know the luxury buses had three types of seating arrangements: those who seat in the front, those who seat behind the driver, and then there are ‘attachments’ (a term for passengers who can’t afford regular seats).
“The attachment is of two kinds: ‘standing’ and ‘sitting.’ I didn’t have the money for the ‘sitting attachment’ so I stood all through the journey.”
It was a long trip that left him “pregnant” with fumes, dust, and smoke.
“There was no room for air because we were all squeezed in that little space,” he adds.
Eventually, he arrived Lagos. It was at 4 am.
“I had nowhere to go to. They stopped us at Oshodi. It’s puzzling how Lagos touts can easily tell if you are a JJC (Johnny Just Come) or not,” Godfrey adds.
“They knew I was one (a JJC) and didn’t hesitate to bully me. I ended up staying with a trader who sells clothes. I looked after his wares while he did other things and at nights, I slept under the bridge.
“My situation was like that for a while before I finally located my older brother. I squatted with him in a crowded tenement building.”
There was no job to do and he feared for his life drifting toward crime.
“I always wanted to work. Being a Yahoo guy was not an option,” he says recounting his past. “I prefer to work and make an honest living than to get my hands soiled.
“I know I have the grace and favour of God but it was important to me to work.”
The rest, they say, is history.
Gifted Godfrey is now a guide to many young people; sharing life’s wisdom with them on how to achieve a purposeful existence in a trouble-filled world. His tuneful, soulful voice gives the adrenaline needed to be inspired.
Besides, one of his words of encouragement is that people should tune in to his show today at 5 pm on his YouTube channel and HipTV with a promise that they will fearlessly break every chain that’s holding them back.
Godfrey’s story illustrates the need to be fearless in a fright-filled world. He’s broken the chain and vows never to look back.