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I Will Remain A Gospel Artiste Even In Another Life — Shallom Joanthan

By Shallom Joanthan
09 January 2016   |   12:49 am
Shalom Amaechi Jonathan is a Nigerian born gospel artiste whose phenomenal voice and electrifying stage presence never fails to thrill his audience. He grew up in the choir where he honed his skills in music, while growing with his widowed mother as he lost his father at early stage of his life.

Shalom-Jonathan

Shalom Amaechi Jonathan is a Nigerian born gospel artiste whose phenomenal voice and electrifying stage presence never fails to thrill his audience. He grew up in the choir where he honed his skills in music, while growing with his widowed mother as he lost his father at early stage of his life.

Though he started his musical career early, he went professional in in year 2000. With four albums in his kitty, his big break came with the release of his third album titled God is Here with the hit being Ama-Ama-Amasi-Amasi. He spoke to DANIEL ANAZIA about his music, latest album and the many ill of plagiarism in the music industry.

What is your definition of music?
From the gospel perspective, it is a kind of art that one uses to uplift souls and glorify God. Generally, music can be seen as tool or instrument for soul lifting to every living thing, particularly the human spirit.

At what point did you discover music was the right path for you?
I grew up in the choir and that helped me a lot in discovering the talent God imbued me with, and it also, fine tune my voice. I started early, at very young age but not too long I discovered music is what God wants me to do and I went professional in year 2000. Every time I sing of his praise I’m usually elated in my spirit. There is this combustion in me like when the engine is working. So, growing up in the choir really helped honed my skills for better.

How many albums have been able to put out so far?
To the glory of God, I have four, but two are giving me the kind impact I intended in the society. The first was like gaining experience, while the second was a bit better. The third, titled God is Here and the hit track in that album was Ama-Ama-Amasi-Amasi. The song made and it’s still making wave in my church, Christian Pentecostal Mission and across the country. The unique thing about the album is that I was guided by some professionals in the industry. The fourth, titled Just By Grace, which I recently dropped and without sounding boastful is a bomb. Everyone that listens to it usually ask where I have all the while. It is something different from what we hear everyday as it involved intensive research before we came up with the beat that matched the lyrics.

Among you works, which will you say is the most challenging and special to your heart?
Ama-Ama-Amasi-Amasi was challenging but Just by Grace is more challenging and it’s special to me. The song is a fusion of the Delta Igbo (Anioma) sound and the Niger Delta beat. You know the hand clap and the body wriggling. It is indeed a creative work. When I came up with the idea, the producer said it is good but we must carry make it different. So carried out a research to know how both ethnic music sounds and can be fused to get what we want. If you listen to the song, you will hear the Anioma flow, which is very scarce in gospel music; nobody has ever done it and I thank God for granting me the creative ability to originate it. It was quite challenging as we kept going back and forth before we got what we actually wanted. The video is out and we intend to commence a massive promo campaign across the TV stations in the country.

When you were writing the songs, Ama-Ama-Amasi-Amasi and Just by Grace, what was on your mind?
I don’t rush in doing my music; I take my time to ruminate, pray to God for inspiration and direction. My kind of music is predominantly praise, so whatever I’m offering must be worth it and should glorify God as well as uplift the spirit. So, what is usually on my mind whenever writing my songs is to give God praise and produce a song that people can dance to while praising God. Ama-Ama-Amasi-Amasi literally means the unsearchable or indescribable God. He is the God that no one can exhaust his or her knowledge of; the more you try to discover him, the deeper you go. The inspiration was given to me by God Almighty and I return all the glory to him.

What was your growing up like?
Without mincing word, it was very rough and tough but thanks to God Almighty for his grace that has kept and sustained me till date. It is one aspect of my life I don’t like to remember or talk about. I grew up without a father and you what it means for man. He died when I was a toddler, and you know what it means to live with poor widow mother, who has no one to help her except God. My growing is one experience I would not wish the worst of my enemy’s child or children to experience. As a result of the situation and in a bid to find solution to our predicament, my mother took me from church to another, where I grew from one level of foundational class of knowing God to the other. Every time I open my mouth to sing it’s always praises to God for his goodness and mercy; I don’t allow my growing up to affect my music lyrically.

Looking at the Nigeria music industry, it obvious that gospel music is not acceptable as circular music does. As a gospel artiste do you feel threatened and tempted to go the circular way?
Actually, it is a big challenge but I would like to encourage and admonish other gospel acts like me to remain firm in what they believe and focus on their game. The challenge only makes us as gospel artistes to work harder and bring out the best. Well, circular music appeals more to the youths because that is what they like, but I’m not discouraged and I know other genuine gospel artistes hold similar resolve as I do. There was a time in this country when gospel music ruled the airwaves and people listened to it, but everything has changed today as most people now give attention to circular music even in the church.

I believe that in time to come people would earnestly yawn for gospel music and the genre will gain back its lost ground as well as acceptance. Go and check it, everyone doing circular music has one form of foundation from the church and they grew from the church choir. My advice to fellow gospel acts, particularly the upcoming is to carve a niche for themselves, create a space for their song with good beat and lyrics. It is either you are gospel artistes or you are not. If you want to be a gospel artiste be one for real and don’t come from the corner. The bible say in John 10 vs 1says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” If you want to be a gospel artiste be and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ through your songs in lyrics and beat. Gospel is and remains the best genre of music.

There is a lot of accusation and counter accusation over song stealing and beat copying as well as other issues. And music critics are of the opinion that artistes that have no business being the industry should quite. What is your take?
Thank for this question. Of a truth, the issue of copying has brought so much laziness in the industry, particularly in the gospel music field. Many gospel artistes don’t take the pain to of going the extra mile to do research and come up with their own creative content, instead they remix or merix what somebody has done before. What these people don’t know is that they end up promoting the original song and the singer rather than their own work. Somebody heard Just by Grace and asked where I have been since. Reason is that he heard something he has never heard before. He told me not to hesitate bringing the song to Asaba.

Advice to upcoming acts
Let me borrow a word from my song Just By Grace, everything we do is by God’s grace and not by power. To ‘blow’ you need God’s grace, and in addition, hardwork is very important. Don’t copy other peoples’ work, be creative and original. It is only by adhering to this that you can stamp your feet in the industry and last long. Copying other peoples’ song or beat will make you lazy and you will sound empty at all time. Working with established artistes and professional is good and very crucial in terms of career development musically. As a young or upcoming artiste, music goes beyond writing the lyrics and singing, there are other aspects that can be learned from the masters of the game. For example, breathe control, voice sequence and modulation. Imploring the input of the professional will help guide you and make the work come out better. Always allow experienced people in the game to hear your work before you on to mass produce.