Mercy Chinwo: Redefining Gospel Music
Words By – Josephine Agbonkhese
Since breaking into the gospel music scene in 2015 with the release of her first single Testimony, multiple award-winning singer, Mercy Chinwo, has won the hearts of music lovers.
Renowned for her soul-lifting yet bubbly type of music, the Port-Harcourt-born who has featured on a number of gospel music projects with the likes of Nathaniel Bassey, Moses Bliss, Joe Praize and more, is one of the few gospel artistes who have succeeded in earning Nigerian gospel music an enviable place on the global market.
Some of the multi-talented singers works include Testimony, Igwe, Chinedum, Obinasom, Na You Dey Reign, Omekannaya, and many more, including two albums.
Also an entrepreneur and a passionate humanitarian, Mercy is the CEO of Mecempire, an online beret and merch company, as well as Co-Founder, MercyisBlessed Foundation. She recently got married to Blessed Uzochikwa, the resident pastor at WaterBrooks Church in Lagos.
Its Easter! In this interview with Allure, the Excess Love-crooner and graduate of Human Resource Management whose latest single Confidence is already ruling the airwaves, speaks on the Christian celebration, of her music, marriage, dreams, and her soon-to-be-released EP, Elevation.
Its Easter Sunday; what does Easter mean to you?
Easter is an important celebration and part of my faith. For me, it is a time of rejoicing, rebirth and hope.
Its your first Easter as a wife; how do you intend to spend it?
I will celebrate with friends, family and my gee of course.
Should your fans expect any special Easter number?
I recently released a new single titled Confidence in March 2023. This is my first release since 2020. My EP-Elevated is out on all platforms April 14th, 2023. Everyone should go and check it out.
Have you always been a born-again Christian? When did you find Jesus?
I was born into a Christian home. My committed parents ensured we all did the needful by taking our walk with God seriously; but there comes a time in a mans life when you need to know God for yourself and beyond what people will teach you. So for me, it was ready at an early age and I thank God for that.
Let us go down memory lane; when and how did you discover your love for music?
This question really brings back childhood memories (laughs). As I said, I started singing at the age of 6. Then with the help of my parents, they noticed that I would always play with everything as a mic like sticks. So, they got me involved in the childrens choir of our local assembly, The Apostolic Church, Rumudara. It was there I got training from my music directors, Sir Effiong and Uncle Dan. I grew from being just a member of the childrens choir to being the leader of the youth choir. Then my gift found other expressions; I grew from being choir girl into a professional background vocalist. I delved into background vocals and studio work for other artistes at the time. Its been an interesting journey and Ive grown to love the craft overtime.
What was growing up like and what do you miss most about your childhood?
I miss my late dad. Growing up as a child was fun for me. My parents had my time. I was a complete daddys girl. I could always share and talk about any and everything with my family members. We didnt have a lot financially but we were taught how to be content with what we had. My childhood experiences have shaped me into the woman I have become.
Was music your childhood ambition?
Hmm…I started music at an early age; so, Ive been doing this for a really long time. However, Id always wanted to study law. I had several conversations with my dad about that but I ended up studying human resource management and related courses and Im now a full-time music minister to the glory of God.
At what point did you decide it must be gospel and nothing else?
The very point I knew living life outside of Christ is not worth it. I had a personal encounter after leaving a major competition I was a part of. That season of my life spanning three years, made me realise over and again that walking in purpose is the best thing that can happen to any man.
How would you describe your journey so far as a gospel artiste?
I would describe my journey so far as one that has been fulfilling. I get to walk in purpose and do that which I have been called to do.
Almost every song you put out turns out a hit; how do you pull that off?
I dont really know o (laughs); it has been God doing it all the way. However, I am very particular about excellence and I pay attention to my work; both creatively and technically. I also work with a good team.
Do you think you would have excelled this much if you opted for secular music?
I dont think I would have been able to express myself as much as I do now. I would have felt boxed, trying to put out content that only please people and not what God has called me to do.
Some gospel artistes for commercial reasons, rather like to be described as inspirational singers. What is your view?
Everyone is on different journeys with God. We all have our values and what drives us; this knowledge inspires the decisions we make.
What are your concerns regarding the gospel music scene?
Personally, I belive the gospel space in Nigeria is evolving; we are doing so much, having international collaborations and more. However, I wish we could do better with media and general structure. I wish we could have a reputable award platform that recognises and appreciates the efforts of gospel artistes in Nigeria.
How can the church help to support christian artistes so they can earn a living wage and not commercialize gospel songs?
Gospel music is not for the church alone. I believe there is no price tag to your gifts and talents; but every gospel artiste deserves to be financially appreciated because they put in the work. Also, remember making good music is not free.
Recently, gospel artistes are making songs that have appeal across board. What would you say is responsible for this?
Gospel artistes are breaking boundaries and setting the pace today, so it is no surprise because the industry is also opening up to new sounds and the use of technology. Ultimately however, the message of Jesus is our propelling force. Things can only go up from here.
Two can chase ten thousand says the Holy Book; how has this applied in your life as a pastors wife?
Marriage is a blessing and getting married to the love of my life is a greater blessing. My husband is a very supportive man and would do anything to ensure that I fulfil destiny.
What are you learning and unlearning very quickly about life as a pastors wife?
This role is an interesting one. With the help of God and my husband, I trust to come into the role nicely. Im however still new in the game, so lets see what the future holds.
Its almost five years since you blessed us with Excess Love and that track still retains its magic; what was the inspiration behind that song?
I got the inspiration for the song Excess Love during a period I call my waiting phase; it came as a song of consolation. It is that song that reminds me of how much God loves me irrespective of what I go through in life.
Challenges abound in personal life and work; how do you handle them?
I try not to share much about my personal life in the public space. However, with challenges, I try not to think too much on the problem; I rather try to learn lessons and look at the brighter side. I always trust that there is nothing God cannot sort out, so I depend on Him completely.
You have made beret your signature style; what attracted you to berets?
At a time, I needed a signature look for my brand; one that sat well with my values of modesty and decency. Also, I find berets easy to wear and very fashionable.
How would you describe your personal style?
In three words, I would say, stylish, modest and comfortable.
Your advice for upcoming artistes…
My advice to young artistes is to seek God, seek out excellence and keep on putting in the work. It is in seeking God that all things become added to you. I got that from Matthew 6:33, one of my favourite scriptures.
Whats the inspiration behind your new single Confidence and whats the goal?
I got to a point in life where I needed to be encouraged; yes, even superstars go through a lot. Confidence is that song I received as an answer during this period. I was greatly inspired by Hebrews 12 verse 2 and Psalms 91 verse 4. The goal is to, in turn, encourage other people.
Who currently inspires you?
Im daily inspired by God; but in the industry, I love Tasha Cobbs and Michael W. Smith.
What other new projects are you working on right now?
Well my new EP-Elevated is out next week on 14th April 2023. Aside our EP, theres more music and great videos. I will also be focusing on the charity foundation I run with my husband, the MercyisBlessed Foundation; we aim to touch more lives this year. I look forward to relaunching my beret company, Mecempire, and a whole lot more as God leads me daily. For now however, I will say, go and stream and share our EP- ELEVATED with the world.
Where do you see the brand Mercy Chinwo Blessed in the next five years?
Mercy Chinwo in the next five years by Gods grace, would be seen taking territories, and making giant strides in becoming all that God has called her to be.
How many albums and tracks do you have to your credit right now and whats the big goal?
I have two albums; The Cross, My Gaze and Satisfied. A number of singles released as well.The big goal is really big, as far as my eyes can see; global tours, more albums, local and international collaborations and, more than that, soul winning all across the world. I know that my music will go to even places I may never step into physically. Thats the goal.