The Experience is rebranding Nigeria’s image globally — Adefarasin
Founder, House On The Rock, Pastor Paul Adefarasin, has said the yearly gospel music concert, The Experience, has positively helped the image of Nigeria among foreign nationals and contributed to the country’s economy.
Just yesterday, The Experience 2021 was graced by some of the finest gospel artistes, including Sinach, Travis Greene, Chandler Moore, Nathaniel Bassey, Donnie McClurkin, Ana Paula Valadao, Sheldon Bangera, Sydney Mohede, Planetshakers from Australia, Mercy Chinwo, Tim Godfrey, Eben, William McDowell, Kikelomo Mudiaga, Chee, Segun Obe, Nikky Laoye, Eno, The Lagos Metropolitan Gospel Choir, The Rock Cathedral Gospel Choir and others.
In its 16 years, the concert has burgeoned, taking on a life on its own. It draws millions to participate in what arguably the largest single congregation of worshippers in a gospel music concert.
One of the most gratifying features of The Experience is its ability to transcend borders, suspend prejudices and truly unite people of all races, cultures, colour of skin, ethnicities and denominations as hearts fuse in ardent worship, exhilarating praise and fervent prayer to God.
Right from inception, The Experience continues to be a huge driver of diverse culture and the creative industry, influencing positive ideological shifts, shaping identities, stimulating innovation, forging meaningful relationships and collaborative endeavours, and fostering economic liberation.
According to Adefarasin, some of the notable positive outcomes of concert are the entrepreneurial opportunities it creates for many young persons.
“Our hearts are full of gratitude to Almighty God, who continually has made it possible to platform the music festival from its inception in 2006 till present, and particularly in these uncertain times occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we first conceived the notion of hosting a musical concert, our vision was to provide a veritable platform where anyone could worship God without inhibition and simultaneously enjoy the finest gospel music, comparable to the best concerts anywhere on the face of the earth.
“Our numerous feedback mechanisms show that small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) have been birthed in sectors as diverse as food, hospitality, clothing, memorabilia, security, technology, media and entertainment, facilities management, events management, as well as logistics, including aviation, ground transportation and local and international travel management.
“Additionally, the event affords indigenous talent the opportunity to display their creativity and exposes them to an unprecedented global audience via continental and global television, alongside live Internet streaming. This platform provides them global reach that extends to over 180 nations and territories. The exposure has produced award-winning cross-continental collaborations including Tim Godfrey and Travis Green’s Nara; Dunsin Oyekan and Kim Burrell’s Na You; Don Moen and Frank Edwards’ Eze Ndi Eze; Nathaniel Bassey and Chandler Moore’s Olorun Agbaye, and Mercy Chinwo and J.J Hairston’s remix of the song Excess Love and others.”
In strict compliance with COVID-19 protocol in 2020, The Experience took place virtually and had a digital footprint spanning six continents and an audience share of millions of views. It was broadcast on more than 89 satellite, terrestrial and digital Television channels.
“I was once asked if I was going to charge for a ticket or gate pass but my response was, ‘why should you pay to worship God, we don’t expect any offering from anyone, except the fruit of the lips and grateful heart unto God. We don’t know how we are going to finance it, but we are determined. The real attraction is not really the artistes; it’s the crowd. We want the people to come as they are and allow God to do what he wants to do,” he said.
The maiden edition of the concerts was in 2006, with just 5000 people.
“We just ask God what he wants us to do and He promised to increase. He was deliberate about building the experience; He prepared us before hand. So, the training of the organisers, the event planners, hospitality crew, the security, the media crew… He threw this at us and we realised that He is intentional.”
On the choice of artistes for The Experience, he explained, “we believe that God controls everything and He is sovereign, so, availability sometimes helps and we are also lead and everybody we needed to be here this year were here physically. Those who couldn’t make it physically will be here virtually. We can’t accommodate everybody, but what we tried to accommodate was various genres of music. Some of the older folks they love to hear Done Moen; some feel if Sinach is not there, then, it’s not an experience and by that, we try to bring some policies to the table to provide for everyone. But at the same time, we laid before God and He select who is available and He makes way for them.”
Speaking on how The Experience has helped Nigeria image, he said, “we have foreign artistes like Travis Greene and others and they go back to their countries to speak on how incredible Nigeria is and they ask others to come. So, people like Don Moen who have been here from the beginning, have brought everybody. African-American gospel artiste Chandler Moore has made The Experience an important event to attend so, that is rebranding.”
He continued: “When you come to The Experience, you are not looking at just the concert, there is a lot that goes into it. Its government and the government is truly on the master’s shoulder, Jesus Christ.”
On job created through the programme, he said, “over 4000 volunteers workers of House on the Rock were involved. According to CNBC, the event generated $25m for the Nigerian economy.”