Award-winning singer, Charles Granville has yet again verified his status as one of the most talented vocalists and song writers in Nigeria with his latest effort, TiTiLaiLai featuring Terry G, topping the charts both locally and internationally.
It was no surprise, however, when the song scooped the award for the best indigenous song (Contemporary) at the Nigerian Gospel Music Awards (NGMA) which took place on December 14, 2014 in Lagos.
His annual show, SHABACH is one of the best gospel concerts in Africa and it was also duly recognized at the NGMA as the Best Gospel Concert in Nigeria.
The Rivers state born entertainer in this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly’s DANIEL FAYEMI shared his thoughts on the state of affairs in the Nigeria gospel music scene, how he copes with doing music, acting and his engineering job and much more…
What’s your opinion on the state of gospel music in Nigeria at the moment compared to one or two decades ago?
I would say that we have cut a lot of corners this present day, so it is not as good as it was. I listened to people like Panam Percy Paul as one of the leading gospel artistes in Nigeria then, and I heard the sound and the quality of what he produced and it was of international standard. Today, we have people who would go into the studio, record anything and put it out for people to buy. They don’t mix, they don’t master, so the song doesn’t come out right.
So it is not as if the talent is not there?
Gospel music is the hub for talents. Everybody started from there, so talent is not the issue. Apart from production, there is the problem of availability of funds. There is also the problem of stealing people’s songs. In gospel music, you see a lot of songs being recycled over and over again. Someone releases a song and it is a hit, the next thing you see, all gospel artistes would go and record that song and release it. I believe that it is wrong. If you do not know how to write, you can get people to write for you.
One serious problem that gospel artistes face is when pastors would invite you and they would not want to pay you because they feel that what you’re doing is a service to God. I feel it is not meant to be so. One should be paid for his work. It’s a different thing if you sing in the choir.Even choristers are paid in some countries because they are the ones that have to do rehearsals and all.
But the idea behind choristers is that they sing in service to God?
Unlike the ushers and the prayer warriors, the choristers are the ones who have to do more work, use their minds, voices, and their creativity. Nobody should come and tell me that musicians shouldn’t be paid because they are doing the work of God, whereas while we are doing the work, the pastors are driving jeeps all over the place, flying in private jets and their choristers are suffering. The choristers would use their own money to buy uniform, they pay for their transport to rehearsals, they still pay levies in church on top of it. Then sometimes, the man would still come after the service and say what you sang today wasn’t good enough. I think it shouldn’t be that way, musicians should be encouraged.
Your latest single, Titilailai is doing so well at the moment. What inspired the song?
It was a song cooked up in the studio. I didn’t go to the studio with a song in my head. I went with my former manager, I heard the beat and then I jumped on the song. I did my bit and then we released it earlier in the year. After a while, I changed management. Then my new management (same company that manages Terry G, 9ice, T.W.O., Sheyman and the rest) heard it and they got it to Terry G, who also loved the song and he recorded his part before I even got to the studio and I liked it, so we released it. It’s getting airplay everywhere, trending in Nigeria and UK for two weeks and I’m so happy with the turn out. The inspiration for the song is I wanted to do a song that could stand the test of time for praise, something different from the usual. And I think we did that.
Talking about Terry G, why did you feature him considering the perception of him. Don’t you feel gospel lovers might not want to identify with someone like him?
I said earlier that when you want to do the kind of music that we do, you must do it with the mindset that we are giving a gift to God. If I am able, as Charles Granville, to give God, Terry G’s voice as praise, I think I have achieved a lot. People can say all they want but Terry G has praised God with this opportunity. That’s how people should look at it and not at his lifestyle. My experience of him is good because he was very humble when I met him. Even the Bible says go into the world and preach. It did not say go into the church and preach. If I must add, Terry G used to be a music director in his church before he moved out.
Do you feel overwhelmed with the pressure of juggling between your job and music?
It is not easy but as I said, it is a sacrifice that I’m happy to make. I’m motivated to keep doing it and I love the challenge that it brings. Besides, sometimes when you are doing the entertainment business, it’s easy for you to lose your way because you get people coming to you everyday and they are bowing at your feet and they are making you feel like you’re all that. Then pride sets in and they cease to be humble. That is not the case with me because after I leave that stage as that artiste, I would go back to work and sit where that boss would shout my name and say ‘Charles Granville, have you finished that file, have you done this or that’. It’s a challenge but I love that it keeps me humble. I also love that I do different things and I excel in them. If you come to where I work as an engineer, they would tell you that I’m very good at my job.
Which artistes have had the most influence on your career as a singer?
I would say the likes of Ron Kenoly, Don Moen, Panam Percy Paul, Kyle Walker, Bishop T.D. Jakes and people like that. These are the kind of people we listened to and they influenced me. I was influenced too by people like Fela because of his lyrics which are very insightful. Some of the things he said are still happening today, he really inspired me a lot. The late Kefee also inspired me a lot because she pushed me a lot to make sure my music got heard. The things she was able to achieve inspired me. I learn from everybody, even the ones that are not doing so well. I want to know why they are not doing well. If you don’t get inspired, you expire and I don’t want to expire.
You were a big winner at the recent Nigerian gospel award, winning the Best Indigenous Song and Shabach winning Best Gospel Concert. Were you expecting to win these awards?
I’d be vain if I said I was. However, since I was nominated for only one category, I was hopeful. Besides, the song Titilailai is doing so well, everybody is talking about the song so it would be somehow if another person wins. I wasn’t even at the venue when I was announced the winner. I was at home before I saw a tweet from Gosporella FM that I won. I jumped into the shower and dashed to the venue to collect my award.
So how do you feel about the award?
I feel humbled that my work is being recognized. This is the second time I’m winning from that same award. Last year, I won the Best Soul and Rn’B for my song Trip For You, but this year I didn’t do any slow song so I couldn’t keep that title. I felt very happy winning this year because it means we are doing the right thing. I don’t spare cost when I want to record my songs. I use the best producers and the best directors for my videos because I believe that God deserves the best.
What’s your relationship status, are you married?
I’m not married yet, but I have plans to get married very soon. I will not tell you when. You will probably just hear that I’m married.
But you have someone special in your life already?
I’m not going to categorically say that yes, but when that time comes, you will all know.