Nathaniel Bassey is a household name to Nigerian gospel music lovers. He ranks as one of the most iconic musicians in the genre who have released back-to-back hit gospel tracks since he switched to mainstream gospel music. The 43 year-old singer is well-loved by his fans and Christians alike as he knows what it means to render pure worship to God. Beyond that, he is magnificent at captivating the hearts of people with his songs.
More so, this talented gospel singer is one of the few Nigerian musicians who is notable for portraying the country’s rich culture in his songs. Most of Nathaniel Bassey’s songs are in the different local Nigerian dialects, with some being a blend of English and a native language. Irrespective of how he chooses to express his worship to God, this music icon had recorded massive success over the years.
Nathaniel Bassey Is A Native Of Akwa Ibom State
Nathaniel Bassey is one of the musicians who in most of his songs declares his rich cultural heritage as a Nigerian. Although his songs are usually sung in English as their base language, most of them are a blend of English and several other languages in Nigeria. This means that he has songs in Igbo, Yoruba, and in his home dialects of Efik and Ibibio.
It would interest you to know that due to his residency in the state of Lagos, he has a larger community of Yoruba speaking folks around him, and though he does not speak the language, he can always get one or two indigenes to translate some choice words for him – this explains why most of his indigenous songs are in the Yoruba dialect.
As a result of his Yoruba songs, there have been talks of him being Yoruba but that is not correct as Nathaniel Bassey is originally from Ikot Ofon Ikono in Uyo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State. Both his parents are from Akwa Ibom but they live a very private life so there is no information about them apart from the fact that his dad served as a pastor. Details of his siblings are also vague but it is certain that none of them followed in his path as a musician.
Due to the vast ways he communicates using the different Nigerian languages, Nathienel’s rise to stardom is actually tied to one of such native songs titled ‘Imela’ which is a blend of the Igbo language and English. The richness of the song continues to captivate his listeners to date. This is because as a gospel artiste, Nathaniel understands how important it is for people to connect to God in worship, and using their local dialects is sure to get them engrossed in worshiping God.
He Horned His Musical Skills On The Streets of Lagos
The gospel music icon spent his early years in Lagos where he grew up with a passion for music – he particularly had a love for Jazz music. At the time his love for Jazz was growing, he began to listen, imitate, and play songs from people like Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Charlie Parker, Miles Davies, Hugh Masekela, Kirk Whalum, and several other prominent jazz artists. Nathaniel did not limit himself as he kept learning and taking lessons from diverse sources to sharpen his musical skills.
It is gathered that his music career eventually kicked off in 1993 and as of then, he was a member of Spectrum 4, a band made up of 4 of his childhood friends. It was actually his jazz skills which were exceptional that got the attention of Elder Steve Rhodes, the leader of one of the most respected orchestras in Nigeria. He approached Nathaniel Bassey to be part of the orchestra, and he accepted. The young man stayed with the orchestra for 2 years and during that period, he served as their lead trumpeter.
Afterward, he decided to go solo, and not too long after, his musical prowess and trumpeting skills caught the attention of several top entertainers and composers in the country as well as the diaspora. The likes of Teemac, Cobhams Asuquo, Wole Oni, Yinka Davies, Adlan Cruise, Funsho Ogundipe, Ayo Bankole Jr, Peter King, Sotiris Papadopoulos, Paul Petersen, The French Cultural Center, American International School, and a host of others were captivated by his musical skills and did not hesitate to acknowledge it openly.
Nathaniel Bassey Has Had An Eventful Journey Into Gospel Music
With regards to Nathaniel Bassey’s passion as a gospel artiste, he owes that to one of the Nigerian gospel artists and icons, Dr. Panam Percy Paul. Ever since he saw him perform, that was a turning point for him as he began to feel the need to have his music do more than just entertain. This yearning intensified when he composed a song for the visit of Stella Obasanjo, the late wife of the former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to his local church. This new desire took him on a search for answers, and being a church boy, he knew that one way to go about it was to seek the right counsel. Soon after, he was taken under the mentorship and guidance of Late Pastor Eskor Nfon, a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, City of David Parish. It was there that he was taught and groomed into the well-cultured and skilled musician that he is today.
Bassey served as a trumpeter under his mentor in the City of David church for quite a while, 10 years to be precise. The late Pst. Esko would usually ask them to put together a trumpet blast with which they would close the service and just after he had read the benediction, he would call on him using the name, ‘Nathaniel Blow’ – this eventually turned into his nickname in the church and Nathaniel Bassey also loved it as he saw it as a prophetic name. As soon as he was called upon, he would sound the trumpet and this was the routine for several years.
Out of this routine and sudden spiritual turnaround emerged a well-known and appraised gospel ministry. More so, on several occasions when Nathaniel thought he was ready to release an album, his pastor and mentor would tell him that he knew he was gifted and anointed, no doubt, but he needed to stay a little more to build his character. After several hasty attempts to launch his gospel music career, Nathaniel decided to listen to his mentor and follow through with God’s directions for his career.
He Was Criticized For Abandoning Jazz
When Nathaniel Bassey began music, he wanted to be a super Jazz musician majoring in Afrocentric, Jazz, Highlife, etc. As of then, he had several superfluous dreams of a lavish lifestyle, with several of the goods the world had to offer which included traveling to study at a musical college, surrounding himself with girls and fans, etc.
To achieve this, Nathaniel would travel to the UK where he gained admission to the University of London to study Politics and International Relations. He did so while in his 2nd year at the University of Lagos where he was studying Urban and Regional Planning. The gospel artist recounts that his knowledge in International Relations and Politics had expanded his mind and he is glad to have received such high-quality education in the field. Nathaniel also went to Middlesex University Summer School in the UK to further sharpen his musical skills. During his time there, he took some courses like music and music business, eventually graduating as the best student of the institution.
With such a well-planned path to enter into mainstream Jazz music, his decision to switch his musical interest was hereby met with a lot of criticism as his colleagues could not comprehend why he was leaving such a thriving career for an uncertain future in the gospel music industry. When recounting his experience, Nathaniel Bassey revealed that his friends literary believed he was being outrightly stupid, for leaving a radiant career to go and serve in a local church.
Major Achievements As A Trumpeter & Singer
Nathaniel Bassey is not only a skilled musician but has gained widespread fame over the years and has even won an award to prove it. Here is a list of several achievements, awards, and recognition that came from him plying his art.
- Gospel Artiste of the Year for City People Music Award – 2017
- Best Gospel Artist at the Africa Muzik Magazine Awards & Music Festival Awards (AFRIMMA) – 2017
- Album of Excellence Nomination (Jesus the Resurrection and Life) at the African Gospel Music Awards (AGMMA) – 2019
- Artist of the Year nominee by the Crystal Gospel Awards – 2019
The Halleluyah Challenge
One thing that cannot be neglected when talking about the phenomenal artist is the internet sensation and spiritual event tagged, “The Halleluyah Challenge”. It began in 2017 and was held on Instagram for a period of one month, with thousands of participants, both locally and internationally. The event drew a massive audience, as every midnight for 30 days, people gathered in their numbers online to join Nathaniel Bassey and worship God.
The record was that there was about a total of 68,000 people who joined on Instagram and they were almost matched by a total of over 50,000 people who were also participating through Facebook. The Halleluyah Challenge would go on to land the title of the largest streamed worship experience on social media and to date, it is held on a yearly basis and there have been several testimonies from fans who took part in the challenge.
Trumpet and Ministerial Academy
Nathaniel Bassey is the head of the Trumpet and Ministerial Academy, a Lagos-based educational institution for young people with an interest in music and ministry. At the institute, they are taught both the skill and the divine essence of the art of music.
How Many Albums Does Nathaniel Bassey Have?
There is no doubt that most of Nathaniel Bassey’s hit songs came about during his time as a choir director. However, he would eventually go on to drop his debut song, ‘Elohim’, which was recorded and mixed in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2008. The album titled Someone’s At the Door was described as both a spiritual and artistic masterpiece, and the hit track in the album, ‘Someone’s Knocking at the Door’, got the interest of many hearts, both locally and internationally.
In addition to this song, several other songs he subsequently released made waves, and they include the likes of ‘Casting Crown’, ‘Book of Life’, ‘This God is too Good’, ‘God of Love’, ‘Symphony’, ‘Imela’, ‘Onise Iyanu’, ‘Olowogbogboro’, and ‘Alagbada ina’ amongst others. As of now, he has released a total of 8 albums and has been featured alongside other prominent gospel artists both locally and internationally. Here is a list of the albums he has currently:
- Someone’s At The Door (2010)
- The Son of God (& Imela) (2014)
- This God is Too Good (2016)
- Revival flames (2017)
- Jesus: The Resurrection and the Life (2018)
- The King is Coming (2019)
- Olorun Agbaye (2020)
- Halleluyah Again (2021)
More so, the musical giant has performed in several concerts and programs over the years. He is one of the faces to appear in the House on the Rock’s yearly gospel program tagged The Experience which features gospel talents from across the globe.
What Church Does The Gospel Icon Attend?
Ever since Nathaniel Bassey began his spiritual journey, he has been a committed member of The Redeemed Christain Church of God, the City of David where he is known to have received his mentorship from one of the top pastors in the assembly. Even with his current fame, he continues to attend the same local church where he also serves as of now as a Youth Pastor.
More so, music remains an instrument of showing God’s love to the phenomenal artist and the trumpet remains a signature for him, whether as a jazz singer or even as a gospel artist. He has also used these ways to reach a lot of young people and has brought about life-changing transformation to young minds under his care.