Vanguard (Lagos)

19 January 2013

Nigeria: I Want to Change the Face of Gospel Music - Nathaniel Bassey

interview

Nathaniel Bassey is a multi-talented gospel music artiste whose talents cut across music and comedy. In his early years, he developed an uncommon interest for jazz music and began imitating the music of Charlie Parker, Stan Getz Louis Armstrong, Kirk Whalum and other Jazz celebrities.

His zeal for Jazz later stirred him to seek out bands and groups along the Jazz lines. He then joined a top jazz quartet in Lagos, Spectrum 4, where he played alongside his childhood friends.

As time passed, Nathaniel, a graduate of Politics and International Relations from the University of London, started feeling a deep yearning that there is more to his music than what he thought. He then realised that music was more than an item to fill a space in time but a fundamental tool in the praise and worship of God.

In this interview with OLAYINKA LATONA, he talks about his background, his trumpet school called Trumpet and Ministerial Academy and his dream for Nigeria gospel industry.

Background

I'm proudly Nigerian. I was born in Lagos into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Bassey who hail from Ikot Ofon Ikono, Uyo local government area in Akwa-Ibom state, South-South Nigeria. I'm still a small boy in my

Early 30s.

I spent two years at the University of Lagos where I did a little bit in Urban and Regional Planning and later gained admission into University of London where I studied Politics and International Relations. I have done few courses in Music at the Middlesex University Summer School, UK where I studied popular music and a little bit of music business and I graduated as the best student from the school.

Why I diverted from Music

I am someone who believes in complete human being and I believe God did not make mistakes by putting the human mind in us which is like elastic that stretches and as you study and learn new things.

I have always wanted to do music right from my early stage of life. I developed interest in jazz music and I used to listen to the likes of Stan Getz and Kirk Whalum, Phil Driscoll, Hugh Masakela. Later I joined a top jazz quartet in Lagos, Spectrum 4, where I played alongside with my childhood friends.

Elder Steve Rhodes also invited me to a Jazz Orchestra in the country called the Steve Rhodes Orchestra where I served as band leader and lead trumpet player for a period of two years.

I can boldly say that my knowledge in politics and international relations has broadened my mind especially from the institution that I did the course from.

I am planning of getting a Law degree now and not because I want to practice law but to get the necessary skills from legal education that will help me in writing and composing my songs and in planning other ministerial assignments. Having degree in politics and international relations is not a parameter for me to be a politician.

Leaving jazz for gospel music

I have always been a church boy but you can be in church and not in Christ. I was one of the people who grew up in church, was in a church choir, gifted and believed that music is all about being good. I traveled abroad and made money but my late mentor, Pastor Eskor Mfon, the former Pastor of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, City of David Parish kept on telling me that music is beyond making money.

One day, the man of God asked me to compose a song, that the late Stella Obasanjo would be worshiping with us in the church and after rendering the song, something dropped in me that this is what I was supposed to be doing. Initially my ambition was to be the best trumpeter in the world, have girls around me, travel abroad, have fun, enjoy myself and go to Beckley College of Music. Everything in me was just all about music.

After this encounter, I let go of all these lifestyles, stopped playing for every other person and my friends thought that I was crazy and wondered how such a talented boy would leave everything but I thank the Lord that the story has changed because music was more than an item to fill a space in time. It is a fundamental tool in the praise and worship of the Lord.

Impact of gospel music

It has been my burden and vision to have a school of music and worship where we will teach people music and worship, the reason being that if you look around in our society, gospel music is fast becoming like secular music. I am part of the old school that believes that the sound of worship and gospel music should be different from that of secular music because music ministries is diametrically opposed to secular music. The value, parameters of gospel music are different from that of the secular music. It is my desire along the line to change the sound and attitude of gospel music and be in line with what the Lord want from us.

Projects at hand

I have a trumpet school called Trumpet and Ministerial Academy (TAMA) in Surulere, Lagos where I mentor and teach some young, zealous and serious youths how to play trumpet free of charge along with the word of God. In the school, we try to build Godly character in them and also teach them how to be outstanding in their various chosen career.

Lifestyle

Worshiping God is my lifestyle. I believe in being simple and accessible. I crack jokes and make people happy. You might be surprised that I used to get involved in stand-up comedy and engage as master of ceremony at wedding ceremonies. I love soccer, I'm one of the Barcelona fans.

It is all about being an ordinary human being doing extraordinary with the grace and anointing of God and I'm still praying that God should take me to perfection.

Advice to colleagues in the Gospel Music Industry

We should have the fear of God, allow God's word to sink in our heart. The bible is the school of wisdom. One should have good mentors who will counsel and guide them aright.

The place of studying and reading should not be neglected because we are now in information technology age where the world is now a global village. Let's read about our music, environment and be current.

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