My decision to leave Delta for Lagos best ever —Onos Ariyo
Onoriode Ebiere Ariyo, popularly known in the gospel music industry as Onos Ariyo, is singer and songwriter who is best known for her song Alagbara. Born and raised in Delta, the singer, who will be staging her first major concert, Breathe, in this interview with SEGUN ADEBAYO, speaks on her career.
What started as monthly internet worship has become a big concert that attracts people from all walks of life. Now you are taking the concert on tour of different countries and cities. What informed this decision?
Yes, I started with an online worship. It usually happened on Mondays and Thursdays but one of those days when I was having the Thursday one, a lot of people started indicating their interest. They said they wanted to come to worship with me. I put it out on Instagram that if we have Breathe every month, would you be coming? So it became a monthly worship session and it kicked off last year February. When we started, the Holy Spirit told me that it was going to go global but I never knew how it was going to happen. So, we did that till August last year until God started planting it in my heart that we should take it on tour. It kept coming to my heart but I trust God to make provision for the vision He has given me. So, last year, I spoke with Jekalyn Carr to be part of The Breathe concert. So, I would say when the Holy Spirit prompted me at different levels and times, I just went with the flow and took the bold step. So by the grace of God, the first edition of the Breathe Concert comes up in Lagos today. We have a lot of artistes that are going to be part of the concert. They include Tim Godfrey, Nathaniel Bassey, Sammie Okposo, Pita and even Jekalyn Carr from the United States.
Is it really about the artistes that are coming to perform?
It is not about the artistes performing because I know God has been doing amazing things with Breathe and this will be no exception. Before now, I have been working on different songs. We will be having the Breathe concert, the tour and an album as well.
How did your music career start and why the choice of gospel music?
I started singing from Delta State because I grew up there. I was in different church choirs and groups and even in school. I was a typical church girl, so singing has been an ongoing thing over the years. I could remember I started singing from the age of six or seven. I recorded my very first single in 2009 but I came to Lagos in 2004. I released my first album in 2010. For me, I love to sing about God. I am passionate about it and there is a lot of fulfillment in it. When you flow with the leading of the Holy Spirit, everything becomes easy.
For someone who spent most of her formative years in Delta State, what informed the decision to come to Lagos?
When I completed my final exams in 2004, I felt I needed more than what I was getting in the environment where I was, hence I told my parents I wanted to come to Lagos. I actually did my youth service in Lagos. I think leaving Delta for Lagos was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Would you have remained a gospel singer if you had remained in Delta?
I would have remained a gospel singer if I had stayed back, I am very sure of that. I could be working by the side but it is going to be gospel ministry all the way.
How easy was it for you to leave everything in Delta where you could have been more comfortable for a life in Lagos where nothing was assured at that time?
It was not an easy decision, but when God has given you the vision, you have to take the bull by the horn and run with it. In the first place, it is your life and the way you live it is very important. We must be very deliberate with what we do. For me, at that time, I was done with the first degree and I was thinking of what next. What next for me at that time was to acquire more for my music career because I knew there was more for me, you know that Lagos is the heartbeat of music in Nigeria.
We have seen cases of people starting their music career from being a church chorister. Others just picked up the interest from being a church person and never looked back again. What made you to be sure that music was a divine arrangement?
I studied French in school, and I knew that I had more drive to do music than what I studied. I knew there was something divine and extraordinary about what God has placed in my heart and over the years, I have been blessed with the sensitivity to my calling. That was one of the reasons I had to come to Lagos. I knew there was more to my music career than what I was experiencing in Delta. For me, it was not a jolly ride because when I got to Lagos, I discovered that the way music was being done in my town was different from what I experienced in Lagos. It was a bit different environment but I was taking a step at a time. I was not in a hurry to blow, if I am permitted to use the term. I was committed to the process and I monitored it very well. I knew that I needed to fund my music, so I got a regular job and I was funding my studio session and other things from the proceeds of my regular job.
Why did you decide to take Breathe Concert on a tour of different countries?
In August last year, God began to drop the idea in my heart because when I started Breathe, one of the things God told me was that He would breathe new ideas into my mind. God was giving me ideas that I knew I never had the capacity to execute. He started dropping the countries in my spirit, Kenya, Cyprus, Canada and others. I just went with the flow because He laid it in my heart.
You will also be releasing an album in that regard. You really must have worked yourself up to get to this level?
This is my fourth studio album and I am excited about its success. I basically started recording this album from the very first single, Forever you are God. Then God dropped Your Name Jesus in my spirit. These songs were dropped in my mind when I was having the online worship in 2017. The songs came from the Breathe platform, so the album title, Breathe. The Holy Ghost is the inspiration behind Breathe album. That’s why I called it Breathe because it was all a divine arrangement. God breathed the inspiration in my mind.
How popular is the Onos brand to stage a concert in major cities; are you sure this will sell out?
Breathe concert is not about my brand, it is about the Jesus brand. The truth is that I have never really done a major tour. This is going to be my first major tour. This is not about me being popular, it is about what God said and He will do it.
As a mother of two, how do you manage to stay focused despite the challenges from being a mother and wife?
It has not been easy juggling music and family. In fact it is one of the most difficult things to do as an artiste, but God gave me a gift of very supportive husband. God has been my strength and inspiration. God will give one the wisdom on how to balance the family and career. There are no formula anywhere, you just have to know what works for your family.
Did you ever see your life in this picture while growing up?
From a very tender age, I have always had the sense how my life was going to be but I never knew it was going to be this big. I have performed on the biggest gospel platforms. I have been on the Experience four times back to back. It is always a honour. I have been at concerts in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. While growing up, I wanted to do a regular job, which I did. I worked at Eko Hotel for five years.