Gospel singer, Lanre Teriba, popularly known as Atorise, has been in the music industry for more than 20 years after making his debut with ‘Atorise’. In this interview by SEGUN KASALI, he speaks about issues confronting the development and non-acceptability of gospel artistes in the country.
You are known to be a prolific singer but recently, things have been quiet on your end. Why is that?
It has to do with the economy of the country itself. So, it is not about me. It is about the challenges everyone is facing at the moment, especially the people who sing my kind of music ( gospel artistes). I keep telling people that with the way we operate in Nigeria, we all sleep and put our heads in one direction. Every media house faces hip-hop now. That is the only kind of music they give hype to. Till date, nothing has changed despite the fact that we have clamoured for things to change. It is a different thing when we are trying to fight for something and your other colleagues are not supporting. That has been the major problem affecting me and other gospel artistes. When you take your videos to those who could help you promote them on cable stations but they tell you they can only promote hip-hop artistes. They make us feel like we are not singing the right songs. For me, this is very degrading and depressing.
Does this make you feel like changing your genre of music?
My brother! I don’t want to fake it and I don’t want to lie to you. What we go through as gospel artistes sometimes makes me feel like I should not be singing gospel music. As an artiste, you go through a lot because people don’t appreciate your style of music, you also face challenges from the churches because of their own internal crises about superiority. You know what churches have become in Nigeria today, even in Africa. Most churches are not preaching about Christ again but about growing the number of people coming to their churches. Some churches will also tell you that you are supposed to dress like this and not like that as a gospel artiste. I don’t know if anyone has been to heaven before. Sometimes when you dance, they will tell you this is not a godly dance. I don’t know where they got the idea of godly dance from.
How do you think this problem can be fixed?
The way out is that gospel artistes must come together and speak against this bad treatment in one voice. I have been saying this for years but nothing seems to be done. We need to register out grouse with the media for refusing to showcase our works like they do for others.
Why the media?
Are they not the ones to showcase our job? Take for instance, I shot a video with half a million naira and I took it to a TV station to play. They will tell you that they are sorry that they don’t want to do anything with religious music. Churches are also part of the major problem confronting gospel artistes. They are not united. Once you are an artiste and you are not from their church, they won’t patronise you.
So, you are saying churches could help solve this problem?
Yes, churches could help when they start seeing that we are all one in God and Christ. You know most of these churches have their own TV stations but they are only showing miracle in their churches and it is strictly for their churches. If you like praise God more than anything professionally, they are not ready to have anything to do with you. Do you know that most of these secular artistes do a lot of collaborations but the reverse is the case when it comes to us the gospel artistes because some will say you are not born-again; your ways are not pure or you are not clean. So, I can’t feature you in my songs. You know we are judging ourselves already, yet these are the things the Bible condemns. The Bible says don’t judge anyone.
Has there been a day you don’t like to remember as a gospel artiste?
There was a time I sent my team to the organisers of the yearly gospel programme called ‘Experience’ due to the fact that a lot of my fans wanted me to be there. They wanted to know why you shouldn’t be there because they expected me to be there. So, my management decided to e-mail organisers of ‘The Experience’. We sent different mails to them that we would like to perform at the concert. What we got in return was that we were not what they wanted. I am actually looking for a day to know what they actually want. Nobody is perfect. We are all sinners. The Bible says don’t judge anyone because you are not God. Let God be the only judge.
Don’t you think the channel through which you got to them was not appropriate?
What other channels do you want me to explore? With emails attached to a platform, feedback should not be a problem. If they are not convinced about your product, they would try to have an interview with you closely. A team will come to you and have an interview with you.
Why the song ‘I am back to you, Oh lord. You have been calling me…’?
I’m back home. I’m back to you oh lord. You have been calling me to come back. I am back to you finally. The song is embellished with a lot of things. It has to do with people; not me particularly. but about everyone of us. We are humans. We backslide a lot. I sang that song for anyone that is going astray to meditate over song.
Not that you backslid and you are using the song to express your intention?
No, people think the song was about me or personal experience. People need to realise that I am a composer.
So what drives your songs then?
I just said it – I am a composer. I see mysteries around. I get my inspiration directly from God. I think about life generally.
How would you rate yourself between the days of your first album ‘Atorise’ and your latest album ‘King of Kings’?
Of course, my new album is going far more than my preceding albums. You should know that the platform through which we promote our songs during the days of Atorise is different from the way it is now. I did a lot of research and the composition was fantastic. It will be more powerful and acceptable than that of Atorise.
You have been in the industry for more than 20 years now, how many albums have you produced?
Till date, ‘Ope nla’ will be my 18th album.
Which do you think has given you more popularity?
All my albums are doing well in the market. There is none of my album that does not have a registered tune with people. So, to the glory of God, I can be singing songs from each of the albums and you will definitely be saying ‘I have heard this’, ‘I have heard that’. So, my best is yet to come. All my albums are doing well and I like to compose evergreen songs.
Should the world expect any collaboration with other artistes anytime soon?
We are working on that presently. I want to talk to Tope Alabi, Mike Abdul, Bukola Senwele, Bukola Beckleys and few of the artistes like that.
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