Remember Marvellous Odiete? The soulful singer who wowed viewers during his time at MTN Project Fame 5 in 2012.
Although he placed second in the competition, he was clearly a fan favourite.
After releasing some singles, he went on a nine-year hiatus. While he was away, he honed his talent, married the love of his life, floated an entertainment company and rediscovered himself.
Now, he is back and is set to leave an indelible mark in the Nigerian gospel music industry. He tells PREMIUM TIMES more, in this interview
PT: Why did you go off the radar for so long?
Odiete : I stayed out of the radar for sometime because I was focusing on family, work, and the business we do. It’s been full circle for me because there was this struggle. Do I come back or not? And at the same time, my wife kept encouraging, urging me to return because at the end of the day, God gave me the voice that I have. So I had to make a decision to come back or not. I’m glad to say I’m back, doing what I love. I’m really grateful for all the prayers and support that I got over the years.
PT: Who are your musical influences?
Odiete: My dad. He has four albums to his credit. He recorded two albums with my late mum and two with my present mom. He is Bishop John Odiete and he composed the popular song, ‘All Glory Glory To The Lord’ in 1975. I’ve been influenced by being in church, that’s where I learnt how to play the bass guitar and honed my music talent.
PT: Can you relieve your experience in Project Fame?
Odiete: Project Fame was a platform for me to really discover and express myself, because before Project Fame, I was not sure I was good enough. So, I wasn’t going there to show people I could perform. I was the oldest in the house, there was a lot of competition going on because everybody wanted to win the prize but I just went there to discover myself and it was a good experience for me. After Project Fame, I reconnected with my wife, we got married and we have four beautiful kids, three girls and a boy.
PT: Why the switch from secular to gospel music?
Odiete: To be honest, everything I did during my time in Project Fame was everything I was doing in church. The platform just blew it up, we had coverage, people knew me all over West Africa, billboards everywhere, we were trending and all of that. So, that was a learning stage for me. I’m grateful, I went through that experience at MTN Project Fame. Coming back to my essence, who I am, I have always known that the gospel genre is where I thrive. When I left the reality show, I tried a couple of songs-secular songs- but it just didn’t work. It’s just like fish without water
PT: Did you release any singles?
Odiete: Yeah, I did. There was this song I recorded in the house, titled ‘Lady’. I dropped it just before my traditional wedding. Yeah, it got great reviews but I tried recording some other ones but there was this struggle, I just felt something was not right. In the secular industry, if you are not called out for it, don’t even bother going there. I love where I am, I enjoy what I’m doing and at the same time I’m able to touch and affect lives positively to the glory of God and that’s the most important thing for me right now.
PT: Do you think gospel artistes can make it big in the Nigerian music industry?
Odiete: I understand that gospel artistes don’t really make it that much as secular artistes do.
We have quite a number of gospel ministers who are doing very well and whether you are Muslim, we go out and hear these songs. Things are not the way they used to be but I would not say things are where they ought to be. I will say things could get better. Gospel ministers should be winning Grammy awards and getting recognition on a bigger stage. We are getting the encouragement we need, we just need more encouragement from the people and from the churches.
PT: When exactly did you return to gospel music?
Odiete: August 2021.I just dropped a single that is garnering great reviews and the next project I’m working on is a reggae song titled, ‘I’m not alone.’ It will be released soo. The full album would be ready in no time.
PT: The industry has changed a lot since you went off the radar. How do you intend to fit in again?
Odiete: Well, music is dynamic, it is either you keep learning or you start dying. I have always embraced all kinds of music, classical music, afro beat, reggae and r & b. So if you want to grow and excel in any industry, you need to be open to learn, grow and work harder because there is no room for mediocrity. I don’t believe in the marvelous of 2012. This is 2021. That time is gone, that era has gone, music has evolved so you have to evolve too.
PT: Do you intend to feature any secular artiste on your album?
Odiete: I don’t have a problem with featuring a secular musician personally. If Jesus Christ could attend a secular party, then who am I? My ministry and what I am called to do is a ministry of reconciliation and I am not sending people away from the presence of God. So, if I find myself there, why not? I will definitely love to collaborate with Wizkid, Burnaboy and Tiwa Savage, I’m open.
PT: What inspired your song ‘You’re worthy?’
Odiete: You’re worthy was born out of pain-I was in a very dark place in my life at that time. I remember I wrote that song in 2010 and I was able to only share it once or twice in my church in Port Harcourt. Depression was setting in, things were not going right in my life and I was beginning to ask God a lot of questions. That was the best song God gave to me at the time and I had to write it down and that song gave me hope and strength. It simply means no matter what you’re going through, you still have to praise God in the storm so he can take you out of the storm.
PT: Are you an independent artiste?
Odiete: My wife and I run Blue Pictures Entertainment and part of what we do is the entertainment side. So we have the movie production, musical side and I fall under that category. We intend to build a brand, not just for myself but to also empower young people who’ve got something to offer.
PT: How do you intend to compete with the likes of Dunsin Oyekan, who is making waves in the gospel industry?
Odiete: I am not competing with Dunsin Oyekan’s ministry because that’s what God has packaged him for, that’s his ministry. I am packaged for another group of people so I don’t see him as competition, instead I see him as complementary. We complement each other for the holistic goal and that is the kingdom, that is Jesus Christ. I look forward to the day when I just sit back like Don Jazzy and just empower young people. That is the end game, so if I am the one who sets the trend and people follow, praise God.
PT: The Nigerian gospel music industry is a bit peculiar and some people say there is this clique. What are some of the issues or challenges you feel is plaguing that sector?
Odiete: You talked about clique, I agree with you. I asked a question one day, I said is there a different heaven from the heaven we are all working towards, I am yet to get an answer. I am a very direct person, I know God will be shaking his head in disappointment when he sees the way we Christians carry ourselves, is that Christ like? You cannot be a Christian and be having cliques. I’d rather be on God’s side than be on any clique. We need to renew our minds, clique, yes, nepotism, politics in the church, yes..it is going on and messing up a lot of things. It is also messing up the way the people out there that we are trying to save perceive us.
Another issue is that they are not working hard enough, yeah. God will bless what you put into the ground, if you put in mediocrity the ground, mediocrity you shall reap.
PT: What other issues are you unhappy about?
Odiete: We need to raise the bar. Somebody releases a song saying Chineke and everybody is shouting, oh Chineke is the new trend and everything. I’m sorry, I’m not going to be in that number. What is God giving you, what is the sound God is giving you for this time? When you just want to follow the trend, the spirit of God cannot reside there. I’m sorry.