CJ Chris… Architect Finds Soul In Music
Produced by Somik, the dancehall track, which became an instant hit for the festive season, was indeed a perfect way for the Owerri based artiste to sign off for the year.
Based on massive reception from music fans, the entertainment outfit resolved to follow up with a video for the single, which will be hitting TV screens soon.
To give fans something different from the usual, they picked the beautiful Eket Beach for the shoot, which also had the Soundcity TV crew on set.
The original plan was to hook up with CJ Chris on his way from Eket, at the City Global Hotel, Owerri, for a chat. But as it turned out, that appointment never held; the singer was involved in auto crash, alongside some of his crewmembers.
“It was a miracle; I can’t believe I’m still alive. No scratch, nothing. My airbag didn’t burst, but I felt something like balloon was holding me in the car. I didn’t expect this to happen to me, but I believe God wants me to be alive and make people happy,” he narrated to Guardian Music, still feeling very weak.
In a convoy of about seven cars, CJ Chris, who was excited about shooting what he described as his best video ever, was cruising back with gospel tunes when the incident occurred.
“I kept the gospel songs on rotation,” he hinted. “Even when some of my jams came on, I skipped them because I just wanted to listen to Christian songs. I thank God we were not on high speed; so, I was able to control the car better. My car spun like four times before it eventually stopped; everybody came out without a scratch.”
For the Nekede, Imo State native, surviving the crash was a clear indication that the hands of God are on his music career.
“I’ve noticed that God really loves me. Even at the point of death, God saved me. Not everybody will be that lucky, but it has taught me that God is alive,” he said.
A graduate of Architecture from the Imo State University, CJ Chris has always been in love with architecture, though his love for music remained unshaken.
“I’m an architect by profession, I just graduate seven years ago. Apart from music, I’m also into abstract painting; I’m the one that did some of these jobs,” he said, pointing at a painting on the wall.
“I had the opportunity of studying either Quantity Surveying or Real Estate, but I insisted on Architecture. Finally, I got an admission into the Imo State University. I love art; I’m always into sketching, drawing and painting. Along the line, I found out that this is my thing,” he declared.
Though he’s currently pursuing a career in music, CJ Chris is still very much into architecture.
“I’m still practicing; I still have some projects I’m doing now. A lot of my friends outside the country, I’m the one handling most of their jobs. I still find time for architecture.”
His romance with music started at a very young age, a time he was too small to join the Cherubim & Seraphim choir in Aba, Abia State.
“I started singing when I was very young; I used to back up my mother whenever she was singing and washing clothes. We were attending Cherubim & Seraphim then, but I was not allowed to join the choir; they said I was too small. I had to join the children’s choir of Baptist Church just to develop myself.”
Three years after, CJ Chris returned to Cherubim choir, now determined to prove himself to everyone.
“I was with them until after I left Aba for secondary education at FGC Ikot Ekpene. When I got there, I moved to a Pentecostal church and joined their choir; we were called The Citadel Group. I started recording music in my SS2 with my pocket money,” he recalled.
In school, Chris teamed up with fellow students to form a music crew; that was after someone predicted he was going to be a star.
“Somebody called me and said, ‘you are going to be a great artiste in future.’ Those days, I used to mime in my school; I used to mime Celine Dion, Marc Anthony, R. Kelly, Elton John, Diana Ross, Shania Twine, Joe… just name them. In fact, they used to call me ‘King Joe’ because of the way I sang Joe’s songs,” he said, beaming with smile.
Though the youthful music group did some exploit while in school, I didn’t take long before cracks developed, forcing ‘King Joe’ to think of a solo career.
“Along the line, the crew decided we should disband. They first complained that the group was getting too big, but I knew they were not comfortable with my rising profile; I was the center of attraction. They wanted some people to drop, but when I looked at it, I decided to leave the group; they were all surprised. Most of them came from very rich families; they had enough money to record. I’m from a humble home, so, I decided to be on my own.”
He continued: “I got a revelation from God that music would take me far. So, I decided to put all efforts into my music. I don’t know when the breakthrough would come, but I want to touch lives with my kind of sound. I just I want to make people happy. I want to be myself; I don’t want to impress anybody,” he quipped.
Though not a stranger to the CEO of Bisinga Entertainment, joining the record label was like magic.
“I’ve always known my boss Chidi; he’s from a wealthy family. When I graduated from school, any money that entered my hand, I used it to record songs. God told me to relax that somebody would come and promote me; I never knew it would turn out this way. Those days, I used to sing all Duncan Mighty songs; people know me very well. At that time, my boss just returned from the United Kingdom after his studies and one of my guys happens to be his friend; he brought him to my house and they were outside drinking.”
He continued: “I was in the bathroom washing my clothes and singing. In-between, I would play my harmonica. I didn’t know I had attracted the attention of everybody in the compound. So, my boss came to me and said, ‘You sing very well, if someone should invest in you, hope you won’t disappoint the person.’ I was like, ‘me that has been looking for a record label? He asked me to come outside to sing the last song I was playing, that was Duncan Mighty’s Ofor na Ogu,” he recalled.
From that day, Chidi took CJ Chris under his wings, funding his recordings and promoting his brand of music.
“He took me to the studio and asked me to get any song I want to record; that was how he started investing in me without any agreement. We’ve been working together till date and I appreciate his kindness,” he said in appreciation.
CJ Chris might have recorded over 25 songs, including the ones currently in the works, but none comes close to Show Them, a track he hopes to feature Olamide on.
“I decide to dedicate the track to God because I’ve always wanted to sing for Him. Initially, I wanted to join gospel artistes, but I found out that what most of them are saying in their music is different from their real life; I didn’t want to deceive myself.
So, I had to respect God and do what I know how to do. But I promised myself that, in any album I will ever do, there must be songs with Christian messages on it. I have to worship God and thank Him for His blessings upon my life,” he said.
On his Vugu video, which will drop soon, the singer said, “It was fun shooting the video for Vugu; it’s the best so far for me. We had to bring Soundcity Crew for the shoot; we used Eket Beach. I plan to be in Lagos very soon to do my radio tour and also promote the song.”
Asked why most Nigerian artistes now prefer to drop singles and LPs as against doing full album, he explained, “Sometime, you find out that when you drop a single, you end up playing that single and using it for shows; it could even cover what an album can give you.
So, sometimes, you allow your single play for sometime before you think of doing an album. Once you have a good song, people will like to listen to you. A lot of people don’t really look for album; they just want to hear good music.”
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