My Greatest Challenge Is Staying Relevant–Sammie Okposo

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How has it been with you?

So far so good, I thank God. It’s been a great career and I have nothing more to say than “Thank you God for your blessings.”

You are here today to grace this event, how would you rate it?

I must say for what happened here today, in terms of the organisation and how everything was put together, even the choice of the recipients of the awards, one must give kudos to LEADERSHIP Newspapers.

What are you working on now?

Wow… I have two new singles out already that are enjoying massive airplay and publicity; the songs are a fore taste of my new album. Between now and next year, two more singles are going to come out and maybe by the end of January next year, the full album would be out.

What’s your take on the Gospel music industry?

It has definitely improved from what it used to be. There is more structure to-it now. There are new talents. In fact, I’m very happy that a lot of younger people who did not believe or think they should use their talent for God or become gospel artistes are having a change of mind. So, we have a lot of young boys and girls who have taken up gospel music. Gospel music is appealing across board to a whole lot of people now than before. But I still believe the best is still yet to come.

As a pioneer in the Gospel music industry who has worked with a lot of artistes, what do you make of the claim that most Gospel artistes’ songs are inspirational, not Gospel?

Yes, we have a lot of them out there that are changing the status of gospel music. Along the line, they move and say “we are now inspirational”. Well, I’m not going to condemn anybody because this thing is a personal decision and persuasion. It’s what they are comfortable with. It’s not like something that has to be encouraged, but you really cannot tell a grown man or woman what to do with their destiny. If they decide that, you know what I started off with gospel and I don’t think I want to do that anymore, it’s their personal decision. It’s really between them and the Creator. A lot of gospel artistes that have stopped doing gospel are wonderful talents and I would have loved them to stay and tough it out with us and get the success story with us. But if a lot of them have chosen to become secular or inspirational artistes, I think the decision is totally up to them. I’m not here to judge or condemn anyone.

What challenges are there to the gospel music genre in Nigeria?

In the entertainment industry so far, the challenge that I have always talked about is keeping yourself, your brand and music relevant in the industry, because the Nigerian entertainment industry is very competitive. If you sleep and wake up tomorrow, there’s a new song and artiste. So, my biggest challenge is staying relevant in what I do. That is the biggest problem, but God is helping us.

It’s not just a gospel artiste’s thing; all musicians go through same. Every artiste wants to be relevant and talked about. Every artiste wants to be part of the high flyers as far as the industry is concerned. So, it’s a general challenge for secular and gospel artistes.

Have you ever been looked down upon because you are a Gospel music artiste?

Well…I have not been looked down on because that’s not the phrase I want to use; but I have been kind of taken for granted. People are usually like “these Church people, they have come again”. There have been concerts where artistes are performing and they say, “Sammie Okposo is here; is he the only gospel artiste? Let him go and open the show nah.” But a lot of times, God has surprised them because when I’m done, the show will be practically over. When I come in, I give the people my best. They used to think that gospel music is Church music. They really do not have the same respect and regard they have for secular artistes. But all of that is changing now. I’m a gospel artiste, but I have a corporate endorsement-I’m a Globacom ambassador. I’m relevant in my industry and government. So the mindset now is, “wow! we shouldn’t be really looking down on or commonising these gospel artistes because they are on top of their games and goals.”

What has been the highest point of your career so far?

That’s difficult to say because I’ve had a lot of high points. Apart from everything God has done in my life, the mentality of the corporate world about identifying with gospel music was changed in my time and broken with me. When I look back at the first day I was signed on as a Globacom ambassador, I think it’s a pacesetting moment and a trend that was never expected. I look at it as change that has opened the door for a whole lot of artistes to come in and be as prominent as secular artistes.

Where is the weirdest place you have signed an autograph?

(Laugh) the weirdest place is on somebody’s back; the right or left shoulder. It was on a white shirt. He said sign it on my back. I took the marker and asked, “Are you not going to wash this shirt?” He said, “No…I will keep this shirt, because it’s going to be a memorial for me.” It was weird; but you are not a celebrity without the fans-the fans make you who you are.

Tell us something you have not told anyone in an interview before?

Ah…(chuckles) You won’t believe this, but I’m a shy person. I don’t say this: when I’m on TV or on stage I’m energetic, but I’m very shy… and meek. The reason why I’m in the midst of a lot of people is because of my work. I like my space, but I try not to say that. You have blown my cover on LEADERSHIP Newspapers. Now, anytime I’m jumping up and down people will say it’s a lie. (laughs)

Finally, you are very close to politicians, are you considering…?

(Cuts in) yes, eventually. But I’m waiting for the right time. A lot of my colleagues are jumping into it right now. Everything in life is time. It will be a good thing, because I’m a change agent. I won’t jump into it for any financial gain because God has taken me to a place that, although I’m not a billionaire, I’m also not poor. I can afford anything I want. So if I’m going to go into politics, I want to be ready to bring change. I won’t allow the system change me, instead I will take change over there.

What’s your message to young artistes who want to be like Sammie Okposo?

Well, if you want to be inspired by Sammie Okposo, or you want him to be a mentor, you have to identify who you are. If you want to be inspired by somebody like me, you must have something peculiar. There’s nothing wrong with trying to be like somebody, but if you do that, it would only sell for a while. Discover yourself and bring out that thing that makes you you, so that when they hear it, they know that’s Sammie Okposo, Daddy Showkey, J Martins.

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