After studying Environmental Science, which her father imposed on her, Iria Rii Osa aka Iria Rii dumped her degree to pursue her passion: music.
In this interview, the Edo State-born gospel singer talks about her music career, new single and the journey so far. Enjoy it.
Tell us about your background
My name is Iria Rii Osa aka Iria Rii. I am a songwriter, singer and advocate for abused victims but I do creative arts as a medium of expression. I am also into poetry and now I am going into filmmaking.
How was your growing up and how did music begin for you?
Interestingly, I have always had creative arts down my alley while growing up. Those days, our parents wanted us to be science students but when I was in primary four, I wrote my first book and nobody took it seriously, and that was when it all started. When I was eight-years-old, I started doing everything creative, I only went professional in 2009. However, I didn’t put any material out because everything I was getting was not what I wanted to be identified with. But last year, I found my own niche and I started carving it for myself. So, professionally, I would like to say I started last year.
As an up-and-coming artiste, what are your challenges?
For now, I don’t have any challenge because I have decided to be original and stay in my lane and not do things because another person is doing it. I do what I know I should do and people can inspire me here and there, but I must work on myself to get better.
What is the craziest thing that has inspired you?
I get inspiration for my songs from angels. I hear them in my sleep, and when I do I just take something from them and build on it. People don’t know but that is how I get inspiration.
Which of the artistes do you look up to?
Pink? But Pink is a secular singer.
I know. I don’t focus on what people say. If I say she inspires me, what I mean is that I try to focus more on what she does and her delivery and how she carries herself. I am a very big fan of Amanda Cook.
Most gospel artistes eventually divert to secular music. Would you one day divert when you finally find success?
No, my music is all about ministry.
But some secular musicians like Flavour and Phyno do drop gospel songs.
We need people to sing love songs, no doubt. As far as your music is clean and you are passing a positive message, it is okay. It is not only talking about Jesus all the time, some have to talk about love. It is good if someone with the mindset of Christ is talking about love, because the perspective will be correct. So, I always try not to dabble into secular music. However, I try to keep it clean because it is the content that creates the divide in gospel or secular music.
Which song are you currently promoting?
It’s Brand New, my latest single. It is about praising God and thanking Him for the new life that He has given us as a result of his death and resurrection. It is a pop/country fusion type of song. A lot of people when they hear it are like ‘Oh Lord!’ They don’t actually know it is a gospel song but it’s just about me thanking God for the new life I have.
How many tracks do you have right now and which one is your favourite?
Brand New is my new baby because it is my favourite single. Brand New was released last year September. I have a lot of other songs. But Brand New is different from what I would actually do and it came out really nice, and it was just like me stepping out of the box to do what was necessary. However, I have other songs that would be out soon.
Did your family ever support or try to discourage you from going into music?
My family was cool but dad wanted me to be a science student. He knew that what I really wanted to do was music. I studied Environmental Science. If only I could turn back the hand of time, I would have gone for Theatre Arts or to film school.
Having come this far, are you seeing light at the end of the tunnel?
I am the light at the end of the tunnel. You see I am not looking for the light at the end of the tunnel because I am the light. As far as I am doing what I should do, the outcome will be what it should be.
If music fails you in the future, what will you do?
Music will not fail me because it is ministry; what I am doing is ministry and Christ’s ministry cannot fail. I am not doing music because I want to be out there. I am doing it because I am sending a message. It is ministry for me and not about whether it fails or not.
Are you not intimidated by the competition in the industry?
I am not competing with them. They are like fathers to me. They inspire me. They also want me to grow and do what I am supposed to do. I am not in competition when it comes to dispensing the message of Christ.
So, you are saying there is no competition in gospel music?
Ideally, there should be no competition because we are supposed to be sending the same message. It is the same body, just different vessels. Buchi is a reggae artiste; Frank Edwards does his thing just like I am doing my own thing. I am not going to sing reggae even though I may dabble into it if the message warrants that. But it is not competition because we are saying the same thing.
Are you in any relationship?
Yes, I am.
What would you say your man dislikes about your career?
He doesn’t dislike anything about my career. He’s my greatest fan. He does all the work. He knows what l’m trying to do and interprets it correctly the way it should come out. He actually pushes me because l am kind of laid-back. He says if God has given you a mandate, you have to fulfill it.
He is not threatening but complementing my career. You know some men are afraid of seeing their wives famous, but for him, it is a no-no. He wants me to be successful.
Who is this lucky guy you are talking about?
(Laughter) You will know who he is when the time is right.
In five years time, where do you see your music career taking you?
I will be in a place where my message is well understood, without any misconception regarding what I am about.