The year 2015 will no doubt remain evergreen in the Nigerian Gospel music scene. It was a year gospel artistes deliberately rolled up their sleeves in their careers. Some might say it’s due to cut throat competition among them. This welcomed development has enabled Gospel Artistes to kick out mediocrity and embrace excellence such that the beneficiaries of this new dawn have become major forces to reckon with in Nigeria and the global music industry. In this special report, NIGONA’S Executive Editor, ISAAC DANIEL ( aka Mr. Gospel Music), and Nigeria’s Gospel Entertainment Ambassador to the World Gospel and Roots Festival (Internationale Festival for Gospel and Roots Et Raciness) appointed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, unveils Outstanding Gospel Artistes of 2015 and their feats during the year under review
SAMMIE OKPOSO: As usual Sammie Okposo, the wellu-wellu Master was on top of his game. He released three top singles from his highly anticipated new album SWAG (Saved with Amazing Grace). The songs – were chartbusters. However, his nationwide tour with his trademark Praise Party concert stands him out within the year. The Isoko, Delta State-born gospel crooner was able to give to all and sundry in the urban and rural areas in the geographical locations of Nigeria the equal privilege to enjoy a standard classical contemporary gospel show with most gospel stars they have hardly seen live. These included, Tim Godfrey, Samsong, Nikky, Laoye, Annie, Henrisoul, Eben Sabina, Asu Ekeiye, Aity among others. Okposo, the undisputed African Gospel king (courtesy of South African Crown Awards) and Kora All Africa Music Awards) also crowned the year with a spectacular performance at The Experience 10, the world’s biggest gospel show.
MIKE ABDUL: Mike Abdul of the Midnight Crew could easily be termed as the hottest gospel artiste in Nigeria in 2015. He was so hot that he performed in countless show within and outside Nigeria. The “Morire Master” was also the most featured gospel artiste in collaborations released by gospel acts in Nigeria. Who will not desire to feature Abdul in his or her song when his swag turns any song to a hit. Despite the non-stop appreciation of his smash hit “Morire” after a year and some months of its release, the song is still on fire and turns Mike into the most sought after gospel artiste in churches and among gospel concert organizers. However, he added more fire” to the song when he released its remixed single and it sent the song “ablaze” in the gospel music scene. Abdul also released a powerful worship single, “God alone” and it was widely accepted but not like “Morire”. To prove his greatness within the year, he had so many nominations, accolades and awards to his credit. These included Nigeria’s premier awards, The Music and Entertainment Gospel Awards (MEGA) in two categories. He also won Best Gospel Artiste Award at the Applause Achievers Awards
EBEN: Emmanuel Benjamin popularly known as Eben since his debut in 2006 with the gospel rock pioneering debut album, “On the rock”, has remained consistent to his afreocentric gospel rock music with global vision. The gospel music newsmaker dropped another gospel ballistic missile-like album entitled “ Magnify’’, into the gospel music scene. The album had “All the way”, one of the most loved and popular songs, if not the most loved of the year. The album also produced other hit songs. It was a great improvement if compared to his award winning last album. The Abia State born gospel rocker smiled home with three MEGA awards with Album of the year category inclusive to prove his impact during a year.
NATHANIEL BASSEY: internationally acclaimed worship leader, song writer and trumpeter, was among the artistes, that made 2015 a remarkable year with release of his sophomore international album entitled “Son of God” , he was gracing global stages with the gospel greats of this world. Son of God produced by Kevin Bonds, nine times Grammy Award Winner had one of the most wonderful worship songs – Imela, which Bassey had earlier released as a hit single. A song that has become one the biggest international hits from Africa. American Gospel music celebrity, Micah Stampley testified at The Experience that the song is rocking the America like “madness.” He also rendered the song to show how impactful the song has been to him. Besides, this accomplished Jazzist turn gospel artiste, was also so hot this year that when many artistes are looking for shows he closed his booking diary for shows about four months to the end of the year. A prominent gospel artiste lamented to this writer. That Nathaniel has closed his booking calendar for the year when he is still looking for shows tirelessly. Notably, his “Casting Crown” songs were also widely accepted among Christians worldwide.
ANNE INYANG: Princess Anne Inyang is a renowned gospel artiste. Ever since she stormed the scene with her smash it Akanam Nkwe, an evergreen song since 1986, from her debut album (All the way with Jesus), she has never released an album of that status. But she has been in the limelight for her gospel hit releases. In 2015, her latest album Awesome’ was really an awesome experience in the gospel scene. The excellent album produced awesome hit songs such as God punish the devil and Nyanfu Nyanfu. . The gospel music princess who started her career at age 12, got commendable accolades and nominations for her good works. Inyang capped the year with the Africa Music Legend Award.
PSALMOS: Oluwayemisi Oniyo popularly known as Psalmos was a very big gospel treasure in 2015. The over smiling, jovial and angelic voiced singer had a glorious outing this year. Although the youthful mother of one is still in dream land on how she conquered the scene with her star – studded album, “Emmanuel”. But nobody can take it away from her that she was among the best of the year. The juicy album with lots of inspiring songs, captivating beats and her delicious vocal prowess was just out of this world. She was the most nominated act at the MEGA AWARDS, proudly winning the ultimate Artiste of the year award. Psalms crowned the year with her second and most prestigious award at the labour room with a bouncing baby girl to the glory of God.
AIMEE ALAKIJA: Aimee was among the revelations of the year. The celebrated broadcaster turned gospel recording artiste, song writers, worship leader and performer came to the scene with lots of innovations and improvement especially in the quality of sound, songwriting and ultimately video production. Her cute “Grateful” album was a reference point of excellence in music production while her video release for her hit single “Soldiers of Christ” was amazing. The storyline, props, shots, customs, set design and location was second to none in the gospel music scene. No wonder it got tireless air plays even outside Nigeria. The brilliant and daring songstress got three deserving MEGA Awards for kicking out mediocre out of the gospel music world.
SINACH: Sinach is in the music scene every year. The Edda, Ebonyi State-born gospel multiple award winning songstress was among the star acts of the year. Like previous years, Sinach whose real names are Osinachi Kalu Okoro-Egu was stunning during the year with the release of her twin albums – Dance in the Holy Ghost and The Name of Jesus. The two albums as usual had the golden bold print of Sinach’s musical excellence and uniqueness. She also traveled a lot outside the country for shows as her huge talent was opening doors for her in the western world. Muyinwa Olanrewaju a Judge at British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, praise Reality Show and presenter of Turning Point for Christian Broadcasting Corporation CBN, Virgina Beach, USA confirmed her global impact on an interview with GEM Magazine recently. Pastor Dolapo Kwapowe, aka Pastor Dee, General Overseer. Elim Chapel, who was in Germany, told this writer how she was proud to be a Nigerian, when she heard German Christian singing Sinach’s songs in their churches and Christian gatherings.
AITY DENNIS: The Tourism and Cultural Ambassador of Akwa Ibom State and multiple award winning gospel songstress was one of the major news makers in 2015. The celebrated unstoppable Gospel Queen of Niger Delta’s trado-contemporary gospel music was highly sought after both home and abroad. Her demand was even more in the western world where her music and electrifying etigi (traditional Akwa Ibom cultural dance) was highly appreciated. She was a special guest to Pat Robertson, President and founder of Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) Virgina Beach, USA. Aity was extensively featured in CBN’s globally syndicated popular programme, Turning Point, for the second time. In Nigeria she made the biggest headline when she gave birth to amazing twins after twenty five years of waiting for the fruit of the womb. Dennis also recorded her name in good as the only African artiste who has performed at every edition of the Guinness World Record breaking 9,999 Carol Singers in her home state.
LINDA ETUKUDO: Linda Etukudo, the inspiring praise and worship leader and recording artiste took her music production to a great international level with her revolutionary album “Oh sing with Linda Etukudo”. The album recorded with the best of global technology and crew from Africa in the prestigious DSTV with over 30 songs got her outstanding multiple nominations at Crystal Awards, MEGA Awards. The album was hailed by African music authorities such as Dr. Malope of I CAN FOUNDATION, South Africa, and Dan Elvins, Editor, Today’s Music Africa magazine, as Africa’s world-class album. The pacesetting album got top placing at Dove Television Minstrel TV show Top 10 charts for months.
RAPHZIL: Razphil, the Jos, Plateau State-based reggae gospel artiste made waves with his latest album “Jah is here”. The adventurous crooner who has conquered the North with his soothing rhythm also took over the whole nation and was on top the gospel chart. His dexterity on musical instruments got him “Best use of instruments Award” at the MEGA Awards. And, Raphzil’s collaboration with Abuja-based gospel star Chris Morgan earned him Best collaboration at the last MEGA Awards.
RIGHTEOUSMAN: Gospel reggae icon, Righteousman Erhabor, made 2015 very, very exciting with his change of style and loaded new album entitled The Gospel !!. The Edo State- born songster embraced the wind of change blowing across the nation when he suddenly cut off his long deadlocks that has been his musical branding for decades. He bagged top awards for his exploits. They are “Best Male Vocalist” and “Best Gospel Reggae Album” with “The Gospel” at the MEGA Awards. A deserved outstanding nomination at “The Niger Delta Music Awards” was part of his gain from the hit album.
TOPE ALABI: Tope Alabi, the undisputed Yoruba gospel queen marked her fifteen years in the ministry with a new album “Oruko Tuntun”. It took her back to the winning ways with more shows across the globe. She also held her crowd pulling annual concert, “Praise the Almighty Concert”. It featured the living legend, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey and other big gospel acts that made it one of the shows of the year. She bagged the “Best indigenous Artiste Award” at the Applause Magazine “Achievers Award” with the album.
PRAISE MACHINE: Gospel music one-man praise riot squared, Evangelist Nathaniel Bereduyo a.k.a Praise Machine, cannot be forgotten in 2015. The very fat singer but highly energetic and vivacious on stage with stylish dance steps, emerged from the studio with an authoritative hit single “Jesus Never Fail”. The colourful video release, shot by award winning acel producer, Akin Alabi, took it to the top of Gospel chart for months. The song is still enjoying massive airplays as this Bayelsa State born crooner is being sought after for shows all over Nigeria.
LARA GEORGE: Omolara George (nee Bajomo) famously known as Lara George, stormed the gospel music scene after her smash hit album, “Higher” album (featuring the international anthem, Dansaki). Teaming up once more with her talented producer, Jay, the Lagos State-born songstress unleashed two hit singles, “Imela” and “Oba Ogo” to the delight of gospel and good music lovers. The songs received rare rave reviews in the media. They earned the “ijoba Orun” exponent “Best Female Vocalist Award” at the MEGA Awards and also a deserving Kora All-Africa Music Award nomination.
PAT UWAJE-KING: Patricia Uwaje-King, the Coordinator of Nigeria’s most successful Gospel group, “The Midnight Crew, made her solo debut with the album, “He has done me well”, on Midnight Crew stable. The album which earlier produced a hit single Eze and a superb video release was a commendable effort. The album which attracted many worthy nominations and accolades, won the Song of the year Award, at the MEGA Awards.
SHADE OSHOBA: Shade Oshoba, the Gospel Apala sensational singer staged a total war against nudity, indecent dressing and all forms of social ills in the society, with her thought provoking latest album, “Angeli Ori Ile”. She stated that it’s a divine crusade to redeem the world for Christ. Besides, the sonorous and dramatic singer had a swell time with shows as her unique Gospel Apala advances to the mainstream. Oshoba crowned the year with “Best Discovery Award” at the Applause Achieves Award. She also had standout nominations at the Nigerian Gospel Artistes Awards and MEGA Awards too, for her excellent efforts.
TEHILAH CREW: The” African Best Gospel Group Award” winner, Tehilah Crew, had an eventual year in 2015. Their private label launched last year, released her second work, the solo album of Enkay, the lead soloist of the group and the Gospel Anthem album was successful. The group led by Pastor Timothy Ogboruche invested so much on acquiring standard studio to upgrade gospel music and video productions. However, their mega successful annual concert,: Alabanza” 2015, set them on fire throughout the year. It should be second biggest Gospel show in Nigeria after “The Experience”. It featured Gospel Celebrities around the world such as Grammy Awards nominee, America’s Kiera Sheald, who made her first African debut at the show.
FRANK EDWARDS: Franklyn Edwards Ugochukwu, the world renowned Gospel artiste known as Frank Edwards made more Global impacts in 2015. The multiple award winning artiste took hi Afro centric soft Gospel fock music to ground breaking global status during the year. Apart from his hit songs registering stellar status internationally, the hardworking CEO of Rocktown records added more efforts in that direction with new hit singles such as “Okaka Doli”. Song from his unlimited album is presenting rocking the world. Grammy Award winner Donnie Mc Clurkin and worship icon, Micah Sampley, confirmed at “The Experience” that the song is rocking them “crazy” in the Western world. And they duo ministered the song separately to wrap up their performance.s In addition, Edwards, an Enugu State-born worship leader also added high tempo afro-pop vibes to his worship music. The welcomed change brought gospel vibes to the club with his newest singles – “Okaka” and “Overtake”. Gospel youths fell in love with it with resistance.
CHIOMA JESUS: Evangelist Amaka Okwuoha a.k.a Chioma Jesus was unprecedented with her music in 2015. Her exceptional praise and worship renditions made her one of the most sought after Gospel acts of the year. As expected, she was booked to teeth for shows within and outside Nigeria. It was unbelievable that this Imo state born firebrand and prophetic singer was so busy with shows, that she had no time to attend a popular music award to receive her deserving Special Recognition Award (for unique contribution to Gospel music advancement). Chioma Jesus also made history as the first Igbo gospel act to make it back to back to “The Experience”, ,the world’s biggest Gospel Festival. She amazingly held the almost a million crown spell bound with her powerful music ministration, despite being the last performing artiste.
JOE PRAIZE: Joseph Omo Ebhodaghe, popularly known as Joe Praise, was in the news in 2015. The Edo state-born songster released one of the most inspiring albums, “Most High”. The distinguished album got him top nominations both in Gospel and secular awards such as COSON Awards, Crystal Awards and MEGA Awards. He went home joyfully with “COSON Gospel song of the year Award”, for his acknowledged impact during the year.
FAITH AJIBOYE- The award winning artiste set the scene agog with his two fantastic singles- MoMore and Onyena Emenma. The song trended hot online and on the gospel scene. The MEGA Award winner and publisher also got commendable nominations for his outstanding feat. However, it was his superlative MoMore video production that was among the trendsetting videos and was highly applauded during the year
MONIQUE-. Monique, the Oba Gbogbo Aye exponent was on song again during the year. Her worship hit song Powerflow was another National anthem. Also, Her hot afro pop song, Na U Dey Reign rocked most dance floors even in the mainstream and was most DJ’s favourite during the year. Nevertheless, her spectacular for the pop song featuring Kenny St Best, was nominated by Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), as one of the best videos in Africa.
CHRIS MORGAN- Chris Morgan Ochogwu, famously known as Chris Morgan was not left out of the limelight in 2015. The Benue State-born soulful singer’s latest album, The Beginning of another Revolution, no doubt revolutionalized the scene totally right from his Abuja-base. He earned a worthy MEGA Award for his qualitative innovations in the Nigerian gospel music.
GOZIE OKEKE: Gozie Okeke, undisputed Igbo Gospel music king was as consistent as ever in 2015. Last year he reconciled with his wife and music ministry partner Njideka, after their most publicized marriage break-up (separation). The move also put the multiple award winning artiste, producer and CEO of GOZOK Records in the news in 2015. In addition, the joyfully held reconciliation produced another hit album from his stable entitled “Reconciliation Praise”. The album featured Gozie and Njideka rending thanking to God for His goodness.
SAMSONG: Master vocalist Samsong, who will be remembered for mightily flooring heavy weights in Nigeria such as Tuface Idibia for Nigeria’s “Best Made Vocalist Award” at the 2005 AMEN Award (Award for Musical Excellence in Nigeria), returned from his long sabbatical to grandiose impact. The Delta state born crooner released a masterpiece single ”Jesus Odogwu” which opened doors wider again for him in 2015. He featured Chioma Jesus in the song, and she added more delicious ingredients into the song. The video release of the song with its rich Afrocentric setting, costumes and atilogwu dancers made the song a gospel knockout.
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