Philadelphia Ekesiena, popularly known as Philadelphia Kes, is a gospel musician committed to changing the gospel music with her brand. The Delta State-born artiste, in this interview with selected journalists in Lagos, speaks about her career and her works.
How did you discover your passion for music?
I literally grew up in the church, joined the children’s choir and became one of the best at the time. While in high school, I still kept at it, even during university days, when I knew music was my thing and I decided to do it for real. I love good music, fashion, intellectual conversations and honest people. When I’m not singing, I’m checking out new fashion styles, trends and all. I have five siblings and I’m the third of six children.
Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time when you thought of doing something different?
As a child, I did music for fun, I didn’t think of becoming a professional musician, but I kept sharpening my skill. It was when I went to the university to study and become an economist that I realised that my love for music is beyond just doing it for fun and that I’d like to do it full time. So, my undying love for music inspired my decision to go into it fully.
What are your greatest challenges?
It has not been easy putting out good music. I mean the whole process of producing, engineering and promoting. Having to keep up with the financial commitments has been a major challenge, but somehow, God has proved Himself through a divine backing. I am not bothered about the challenges anymore because I know it won’t last as I have a focus and a bigger vision. I see whatever I have passed through and still passing through as a stage and event to prepare me for the bigger stage. I am delighted for the grace and patience I have exercised so far. This has made the gospel more interesting for me.
What other things do you do aside music?
As I said earlier, I’m very good in clothing, fashion generally such that I have plans to set up a fashion outfit soonest.
Who are your role models?
I love Maranda Curtis and I want to be like her when I grow up. I also love Efe Nathan, her vocal strength is one which I covet. So, I keep working hard every day to be an endeared vessel.
What is your plan to impact lives and the industry in general?
I have a greater vision for my career and contributing my quota in the music fold. I want to establish my own or co-own a record label to promote up-and-coming artistes, especially to relieve them from unnecessary stress any rising artiste could go through as well as to make music making become easier and fun-filled.
What informed your decision to choose gospel music?
I grew up in church and gospel music is everything I have known as a child up till now even though I’m a wide listener and I listen to diverse genres. So, yes, the love for gospel came naturally. It is not as if I feel in love with it, but it is a divine call that I cannot hesitate to adhere to. I have no regret for the will of God, it has not only transformed my life, but has also made me a channel from God to His creatures.
What is your assessment of gospel music in Nigeria?
Gospel music in Nigeria is still growing, it has got a lot of potential even across the West Africa and the entire world. What we have so far are a lot of very talented gospel artistes, but we still need much help in the area of awareness, promotion, distribution and production. Though many media oganisations have supported the industry greatly, we need more exposure. I will say the industry is coming up and we’ve got room for improvement. I just want to advise fellow artistes and stakeholders not to relent in their effort to take the industry to a greater height.
The gospel music industry seems to be overcrowded. How do you intend to stand out?
I have a sound I’m set to project. I want to be as original as possible. With that, I’m sure I’ll stand out and in turn break even.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself proclaiming the name of Jesus around the world and anywhere my feet step on. I’m sold out to making Jesus famous through my songs as that’s the whole essence of salvation.
What inspired your new work entitled He Came Through?
There was a time in my life where depression, regular mood swings were the order of the day. Then my cousin came up with the song and we wrote it together. That was how I was able to really express myself through the lyrics of the song. It took about five years to produce the song because we had the song since my university days and decided to revamp it four years after graduation.
How do you intend to make a complete album?
Yes, of course, a couple of other songs are cooking already and I have some other songs too. Plans are underway to have a complete album.
Are you not scared that gospel music could only bring you fame and not sustainable income?
I am never scared. As a child of God, we are not meant to be. I have plans for show business and the more technical side of the industry. Being famous for the RIGHT reason is good and I am sure sustainable income will come with the territory God willing.
Are you in a relationship? Take us into your family life?
I am currently not in a relationship as I just want to concentrate on my career for now. I have a very loving and supportive family. Growing up, my parents noticed that I was always humming and sometimes singing to songs so they encouraged me and I developed it with the help of vocal trainers and other professionals.
What’s your view of the reception of Nigerian gospel music globally?
Gospel music is gaining popularity and positive attention to Nigeria. A few Nigerian artistes are already representing us well and there is room for more artistes. Many artistes are now working with reputable record labels who can help improve and promote their work positively. We are making progress and by the way, thanks to media outlets like yourselves for the love and support you continue to shower on us.
Has anyone ever shared a testimony about the impact of your music/voice in their lives?
To the glory of God, several people have shared with me and I hope the song is a source of inspiration, healing and motivation for people. As for the voice, I get that quite often as I am a member of the choir in my church, This Present House, and I cannot thank Pastor Tony Rapu enough for his leadership, direction and teaching.