Mairo Ese, is a gospel musician and song-writer. He accepted Christ in his teenage years and discovered his passion for music, and later his calling as a worship leader. Ese is known for his eclectic blend of R&B and Soul and his interpretation and expression of music is dynamic and fresh, transforming songs into a true worship experience with the help of the Holy Spirit. Over the last 22 years, he has served in various capacities within the church – starting as a Chorister, progressing to Worship Leader, and then Music Director. He talks to Tosin Clegg about his journey into music, his style and approach towards gospel music, his new album and a lot more
Growing up, childhood dreams, education and family
I am the first of four children – I have three siblings. My dad was a businessman and my mum an accountant working with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). We were neither rich nor poor, probably closer to being poor, but we were comfortable and content. My parents taught us the value of being content and being able to share with others irrespective of how much or little we had. Growing up, our home was always open to family and strangers alike. We always had a full home and my parents were nurturers to so many people. We learnt to share quite early. I have a good relationship with my siblings Kome, Orez and Oruaro. We lost our dad suddenly 20years ago and this brought us closer as a family. I started my university study at Delta State University, and later moved to the University of Lagos for my first degree. My childhood dream was to go to University, graduate, get a 9-5 job and make money! I had hoped to play football professionally as well and I’m an Arsenal fan.
Journey into music
My journey into music started when I gave my life to Christ as a teenager. At the time, I didn’t know I would go into it full time, however, I discovered my love for singing in Secondary School. After Secondary School, I joined the worship team at my church at the time (Redeemed Christian Church of God). At University, I was part of the Sovereign Army Student Fellowship Choir and we also had a group of friends form a worship team called Euphoria. We loved God and we poured our hearts in worship. I met some amazing people there who have become life-long friends. It’s also important to mention that by God’s grace, many of them have gone on to do amazing work in ministry, in business, in media and entertainment. Towards the end of my time at University, I joined This Present House in Lekki and became a member of the worship team.
I had to go for my National Youth Service (NYSC) in Kaduna for one year and while there, I attended the House on the Rock church in Jos and served in the choir too. Coming back to Lagos after my National Youth Service year, I was approached and offered a full time position as Worship Leader at This Present House and that’s how I found myself working full time for God in ministry. I worked here for a few years, where I experienced immense growth and tutelage under Pastor Tony and Mrs Nkoyo Rapu. I resigned as a paid staff at TPH in 2014, however I have continued to serve and fellowship there as my home church.
My music is essentially praise and worship to God
I am encouraging people to see the greatness and power of God with music. It is pretty much the expression of my walk with God. Gospel music is about the message of Jesus Christ. Key elements in a good sound would be the proper expression of the music to convey the message of the song. Like I said earlier, my music conveys the experience of my walk with God which is exactly what this album is about. The title of the album is Spirit and LIfe. I was inspired by the Holy Spirit through the scripture John 6:63 ‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life’. So this album is full of the Spirit of God and my prayer is that it will give life to the listeners. As with many projects and assignments, the road is not always smooth, however the end goal is what keeps one going. This album was live recorded at The Dome in Lekki with about 2000 people in attendance. I was grateful and humble to see so many people come to worship God with me and be a part of this project. It was a unique experience as recording before a live audience is quite different from the conventional mode of producing an album. Thank God it was worth it.
It was great to work with a fantastic team of people who brought this vision to life, from the entire crew – Production to videography, the artistes who featured on this album – Nathaniel Bassey and Ese Chekwa, my amazing team – Streams of Life, Music Director Okey ‘K3yzz’ Martynz, along with Producer RotimiKeyz. It was both exciting and a lot of work and I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to birth this project and the grace to be able to share it with you. I believe that God has given each one of us unique gifting and talents and these are expressed in the work we do or produce. This is what makes the world such a beautiful place. All human, yet unique in our gifting.
Current challenges of gospel music in Nigeria and what can be done
I believe the challenges cut across music in Nigeria, inclusive of all genres. One is the common enemy – Piracy. We have artistes doing their work and not getting their worth. I believe effective government policies designed to protect the rights and intellectual property of artistes will go a long way. It’s a win-win situation as the government is also then able to generate revenue from the music industry via taxes. If music artistes thrive, they are able to pay taxes and the government benefits. Another challenge is funding. As an artiste you want to put out quality material, however funding could pose a challenge. A solution will be for the sector to be properly structured, when this happens, it has the potential to attract more willing investors.
Artistes I admire
There are many artistes I admire both home and abroad and I would be open to working with anyone with shared vision. However, I have always desired to work with Darlene Zscech as she has had a great influence in my life as a younger worship minister. And in five years I see myself doing what God would have me do. I am desperately chasing after my Father’s heart – demonstrating His love, touching lives and making the world a better place.