Austin Adigwe is not one to do things in half measures. As a manager with a new generation bank and part-time lecturer with the Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, his one true passion, however, is changing the world through music. The third child of the late Mr. and Mrs. Michael Adigwe, from Idumu-Osume Quarters of Ubulu-Uku, in Aniocha-South Local Government Area of Delta State, the award-winning musician started his musical career at a very tender age. Intentionally tailoring his music to bring hope and spread love, he has continuously appealed to youths to shun violence, noting that all the vices prevalent in Nigeria are consequences of sustained absence of love for one another. In this interview, Adigwe, who came into limelight with his debut album in November 2019, spoke on the journey so far, as well as other issues. Chiemelie Ezeobi reports
Austin Adigwe Interview with ThisDays
How did you start your music career?
Passion for music resonates in my childhood and teenage memories, coloured with membership of various cultural dance groups, church choir and college brass band. I began playing instruments like the clarinet/tuba at age 14, drums at age 16 and the 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 had started using my situation and immediate environment to compose inspirational songs with perfect characterisation in gospel music. Convinced that nothing was too much to give back to God for life and his provisions, I created a sinking fund, managed by my wife, to support the initial take-off in the years ahead.
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 reasonings to inspire, support and encourage oneness. I had to search online for music producers and God ordered my footsteps to my prolific producer Duktor Sett. That is my story.
How do you combine music with lecturing and other occupations?
First is the undisputable grace of the Almighty God in every of my endeavours. Secondly, with good time management and discipline; so much can be achieved within a short time. You see, 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 optimise 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 per cent proficiency in time management, there are some skills that help one improve his/her optimisation level. I could combine my jobs because of my unwavering passion for them and the ability to discover their interdependence and interrelatedness. This ensures that one job feeds off the others in such perfect harmony that is mutually beneficial to the different goals and bottom lines.
In so short a time, your music has made impact around the globe, what is the magic?
God is universal, no doubt about that. So, when you commit your resources (time and materials) 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 of us and the contents of my music.
Other important factors are originality of my songs, simplicity, absence of conflict with established teachings of Christ and intensity of promotion.
You have won some awards and nominations, including the coveted Silent Heroes Initiative Award,” which is not a tea party, how did it happen?
Silent Heroes Award is truly coveted and priceless to my high sense of motivation and immensely integral to the giant strides I see in my music career today. It is the platform of unsung heroes and recognises the contributions of ordinary Nigerians who toil daily to make life better for others. Unlike the other awards we see on display 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 nor connection to the powerful.
A Nigerian that was impacted by one of my songs, “Jesus Never Fails,” contacted the organisers of the Nigeria Silent Heroes Awards with my nomination, so I was contacted and informed that someone nominated me based on my song for the awards and the nomination would be confirmed if the song passes through scrutiny. A few weeks later, I was contacted that the entry was successful and that I was an awardee. So I return all the glory to God.
What is your message to Nigeria during this period of trial with banditary, kidnapping, killings and terrorism. Perhaps, you would do some songs for Nigeria?
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 as instructed by all the holy books and teachings. You can give these social vices different names such as corruption, banditry, kidnapping, killing and terrorism, they are all direct consequences of sustained absence of love for one another.
Let me take you to Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” So, clearly, any generation that elects to hate instead of to love already knows the verdict of their choices. We cannot claim to love God that we have never seen and yet hate one another (1 John 4:20).
You can clearly see the growing wrong and misleading diagnosis of our problems as a people, much of which we attribute to our diversity (religion and ethnicity). Can we not see clearly that our God is a God of diversity? The God that made the night and day? Land and sea, mountains and valleys, wet and dry seasons? The God that created us tall and short, fat and slim, black and white, male and female, etc? Is it not the same God that created different languages from where we derive our identities, which translate to culture? It is senseless that we go to war because of our God-given diversity. Are we not telling God by our actions that the breath we take is a huge mistake on his part?
I hear all sort of solutions opined by supposed experts in various endeavors of life. Like use technology, buy more weapons, hire more police and army, without addressing the root cause of the crisis. These are positions that aggravate, rather than ameliorate. 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. There is a saying that the person whose home is peaceful is the one that sees and forgives. We must stop fighting God in the name of fighting our diversity. Nobody chose how, where and when he/she was born nor his/her first language. If God distributed us on the surface of the earth without our consent and input, how naïve we are trying to alter the works of God.
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 are titled “A Great God” and “Love in Crisis,” on free download, just google Austin Adigwe or visit the official download site for all Austin Adigwe’s songs at allbaze.com. You can stream the videos on my YouTube channel, Augustine Adigwe, and be richly blessed by the ministrations.
So, love is your only passport to salvation.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
What is your message to Nigerian youths who seem to have lost hope and taken to all sorts of criminal activities?
Tough times should make us better people. Joseph was put in charge of the entire land of Egypt because, in his most grievous trails, he did not resort to crime but remained steadfast with all the right virtues that pleased God. Difficulty is not and will never be a justification for any crime, as most victims of the these crimes are also victims of the same failed system.
Yes, I must acknowledge that things are extremely difficult for us, the youths, no support system for creative minds, lack of care for the wellbeing of 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.
How do you see the future of gospel music in Nigeria?
The Nigerian gospel industry is growing astronomically because the message of Christ is food for the soul and the path to salvation.
Do you charge when you perform for churches or crusades?
Yes, I have been receiving invitations and performing in different gatherings of worshippers in church programmes, concerts and weddings.
No, I don’t charge to minister the gospel of Christ to worshippers. However, some churches do offer their token to help offset the logistics of bringing my team (band members) for ministrations.
How did Nigerians welcome your music?
The feedbacks from my listeners are overwhelming and a major source of inspiration to do more.
What are you doing to make sure that your music gets to millions of people across the globe?
My songs air on over 15 TV stations, more than 50 radio stations, on free download in more than 40 major gospel sites, on all digital stores, in 2,000 copies of complementary CDs, in more than 500 Alaba mixtapes, on DJAN Lagos playlist for Radio and Street DJs, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I have fans that follow my music from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and other English-speaking countries in Africa.
How many hits do you have to your credit and which one do you regard as your best?
I have singles that are building up to the first album. These singles 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 any favorite, as they speak to different circumstances of life. My mood determines my preferred song at every given time. “My Praise” inspires the culture of gratitude to God. “Chioma” is a multilingual thanksgiving song. “Jesus Never Fails” restores hope and faith in God. “Nonso” is another powerful praise song. “We Adore You” supports the act of total submission to God, while “Love in Crisis” speaks to the need to love one another. “A Great God” is a prayer for self and country Nigeria. As for “You Alone Can Heal”, it is the perfect song that supports every healing process, “In You Alone I Trust” is an affirmation of faith. “A Call to Love” speaks to the essence of humanity, and “The Risen God” encapsulates Christ’s passion for our salvation at the cost of his life.
What of your educational qualifications, do you plan on going further?
My highest level of education for now is an M.Sc in Economics from University of Lagos, Akoka. Yes, I am working towards my P.hD in Economics as well.
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.
What are your social media handles and how can people support you?
People can support by following me on Instagram, @austin.adigwe,
Twitter, @ausglo, Facebook, Austin Adigwe, and YouTube, Augustine Adigwe. You can also have me minister at your church events to bless lives.
this news was from ThisDaysNews