By Christopher Oji
For fast rising gospel singer, Austin Adigwe, all the vices prevalent in Nigeria are consequences of sustained absence of love.
In this chat, the musician, banker and part time lecturer with Lagos State Polytechnic speaks on his antecedents and sundry issues. Here are excerpts.
How did you start your music career?
I had passion for music right from my childhood. I was a member of various cultural dance groups, church choir and college brass band. I began playing instruments like clarinet/tuba at age 14, drums at 16 and keyboard at 20. In 2013, the inspiration to transform thoughts to songs began to manifest significantly and I could communicate with songs. Then came the bigger challenge of how best to channel the newfound energy. By 2016, I started using my situation and environment to compose inspirational songs with perfect characterization in gospel music. Convinced that nothing was too much to give back to God, I created a fund managed by my wife to support the initial takeoff. So, when in 2019 I decided to start recording, I had a pool of over 30 songs, each speaking to a specific aspect of life with biblical reasoning to inspire, support and encourage oneness. I searched online for music producers and God ordered my footsteps to Duktor Sett. That is my story.
How do you combine music with lecturing and other things you do?
First is the indisputable grace of God in my endeavours. Secondly, with good time management and discipline, so much can be achieved within a short time. It is not how long but how effective you are in turning prospects to opportunities, and then to results. If you see time as a resource, you would optimize it. But if you see time as a mere prompt for different activities, you would abuse and misuse it. While no one can claim 100 percent proficiency in time management, there are some skills that help one to improve his or her optimization level. I could combine my jobs because of my unwavering passion and the ability to discover their interdependence and interrelatedness. This ensures that one job feeds off the others in such a perfect harmony that is mutually beneficial to the different goals and bottom lines.
Your music has made impact around the globe in so short a time, what is the magic?
God is universal, no doubt about that. When you commit your resources, time and material to his service genuinely, he becomes your ultimate promoter. My songs are making impact because they carry his grace, message, teachings, inspiration and incentive to love as Christ commanded us. I am always conscious of my lyrics to ensure that the messages are received and interpreted as intended. Every song of mine has lyrics that depict the letters and spirit of the Holy Bible, to create congruence between what God desires and contents of my music. Other important factors are originality of my songs, simplicity, absence of conflict with established teachings of Christ, and intensity promotion of my songs.
You’ve won awards and nominations including Silent Heroes Award, how did it happen?
Silent Heroes Award is truly coveted and priceless to my sense of motivation and immensely integral to the giant strides I’ve made in my music career. It is the platform of unsung heroes and recognizes the contributions of ordinary Nigerians who toil daily to make life better for others. Unlike other awards that celebrate the mighty, the connected, the rich and famous, Nigeria Silent Heroes Awards targets good-spirited people who are impacting lives positively, with little or no societal recognition, or connection to the powerful. A Nigerian that was impacted by my song, Jesus Never Fails nominated me for the award. A few weeks later, I was contacted that the nomination was successful and that I was an awardee. I return all the glory to God.
With rampart insecurity in the country, what is your message to Nigeria? Would you like to do a song for the nation?
We are on a journey that is exploding before our eyes, without the prescription of the real solution in sight, even though we all know the consequences of our generational disdain for one another along religious and ethnic divides. Our problem as a country is multifaceted but from the same root, which is complete absence of genuine love for one another. You can see the growing wrong and misleading diagnosis of our problems as a people, much of which we attribute to our diversity. We need to talk, listen, persuade and enforce. Whoever is aggrieved needs to be heard with an open mind for peace, love and harmony to return to our beloved country. I have released two songs in response to the hate crisis in the world and Nigeria in particular. These songs appeal to our conscience to drop all forms of detestation and embrace love, for a happier and better world. They songs are A Great God and Love in Crisis.
What is your message to Nigerian youths who seem to have lost hope and taken to criminality?
I must acknowledge that things are extremely difficult for us especially the youths. There is no support system for creative minds; there is lack of care for the youth, unending harassment etc. However, the solution to these problems is not crime. Even in these difficult times, we can apply our creative minds towards providing solutions where we find gaps to make legitimate income.
Do you charge money when you perform at churches and crusades?
Yes, I have been receiving invitations and performing in different church programmes, concerts and weddings. But then, I don’t charge to minister the gospel of Christ to worshippers. However, some churches do offer their token to help offset the cost of bringing my band members for ministrations.
Do you plan to further your education?
My highest level of education is an M.Sc in Economics from University of Lagos. Right now, I am working towards my P.hD in Economics.
How many hits songs do you have and which is your favourite?
I have singles that are building up to the first album. They include My Praise, Chioma, Jesus Never Fails, Nonso, We Adore You, Love in Crisis, A Great God, You Alone Can Heal, In You Alone I Trust, A Call to Love, and The Risen God. I do not have a favourite. My mood determines my preferred song at every given time.
On the home front, does your family support your music career?
Yes, I am happily married and my entire household supports my vision of musical evangelism.