Updated: Jun 18, 2022
Secular music is known for its global appeal, with lyrics about women, physique, drugs, partying, and profanity. The lyrics and melodies of gospel music are known for spiritually nurturing the body and soul. The majority of our secular artists began their musical careers in the choir. Some went into secular music because people like listening to it, while others went into it for the money.
Becoming a gospel singer is being a Christian, being born again, and using your voice and music to win people to Christ. Some secular singers in Nigeria have either reconsidered their lives and professions or responded to a spiritual call.
CHIEF EBENEZER OBEY
Image from BBC.com
Chief Ebenezer Obey is one of the front runners in Nigerian music, especially in the juju genre. Chief Ebenezer Obey started out by experimenting with Yoruba percussion styles. Later growing the band by adding more drum sets, guitars, and talking drums. Obey’s musical prowess is in incorporating complex Yoruba concepts into dance-floor tunes.
The band excelled at praise-singing for affluent Nigerian socialites and business tycoons, as is typical of Nigerian Yoruba social-circle music. Chief Ebenezer Obey, is known for Christian spiritual themes in his songs. He became involved in Nigerian gospel music ministry in the early 1990s. He is now known as Evangelist Ebenezer Obey.
Image from ty.com
TY Bello began her career as a photographer. She emerged onto Nigeria’s musical landscape as a member of the defunct group KUSH, an acronym for Kinetically Ushering Salvation into Hearts and Homes. Other members of the group were Lara George, Dapo Torimiro and rapper Emem Ema. Kush gained popularity in the early 2000s with the single “Let’s Live Together“; the group managed to release an album before disbanding.
Years Later, TY Bello went solo releasing three albums, Greenland in 2008, The Future in 2011, and The Morning Songbook in 2014. TY Bello began experimenting with spontaneous worship gatherings. The spontaneous worship service served as a springboard for new record releases.
Spontaneous worship is a live recording session in which TY Bello performs alongside another gospel artist. This spontaneous worship series has given rise to some of the gospel community’s most spirit-filled tunes.
Image from Jesusful.com
The Olowogbogboro vocalist began his career as a church singer before discovering jazz music. He went on to perform in jazz shows, including some that featured Louis Armstrong’s songs. Nathaniel Bassey later joined the jazz trio “Spectrum 4” in Lagos.
Despite being a performer, Nathaniel Bassey used to sing in church. Everything changed for Nathaniel Bassey when he was asked to write a song on the day Stella Obasanjo was set to worship and pray at his church; that was the turning point in his life. After hearing the composition played, he realized that this is what he should be doing with his life.
Image from Talkofnaija.com
Chidinma Ekile who is a pastor's daughter ten years ago, joined the race for fame in search of a better life. She first won the 3rd season of the MTN Project Fame West African singing competition in 2010 and went straight into the Nigerian music industry. It didn't take long for her to drop her first hit song "Jankoliko". She became a force to reckon with, dropping "Emini Bola" and "Kedike".
In return, they cheered her up for her incredible vocals and success, something no winner of the MTN project fame was able to achieve. As far as we're concerned Chidinma carried herself well throughout her pop years, from her dressing, her swag, to her vocals words. None of them was out of hand or extra. Chidinma took her time yearly and slowly maintained a music career.
However, in May 2021, Chidinma Ekile, the beautiful songstress with the voice of a nightingale dropped a shocker for her fans by asking them to call her Mummy G.O or Endtime Soldier, explaining that the old Chidimma has turned a new leaf after a call from God.
Image from Bellanaija
Popular singer Obiwon gave gave us some of the best music in the 2000s. His 2005 debut album "Overture" featuring his hit single "Onyinye" remains one of Nigeria's best classic ballad. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, Obiwon rebranded into an urban contemporary singer in 2008, changing it's stage name to Obiora Obiwon. He said he has undergone a spiritual experience and he's sure gospel music is what God wants him to do. Since his rebrand, Obiwon has not been doing bad at all. His album "The Rebirth" featuring songs like "Father", "Victorious" and "Obimuo" and others, helped seal his place as an evangelist of God.
Image from Gospelmind.com
Some may be surprised to learn that the spirit-filled singer used to perform secular music. When Mercy Chinwo participated on the 2012 edition of Nigerian Idols, she was known as Mecindo by her admirers. After playing a handful of secular songs, the singer went on to win that edition. Mercy Chinwo did not go on to record any secular singles, but she did star in a movie.
Mercy Chinwo returned years later with a slew of gospel singles like ‘Excess Love”, “Akadimelu”, “Obinasom“.