I have done the Nigerian national anthem for about 8 presidents including Bill Clinton, Emmanuel Macron, Rwandan president, God just kept the national anthem part consistent when I transitioned to gospel music. Chee speaks about her journey and the new release Munachimuso with Urban Gospel’s BBT, below is an excerpt.
BBT: National Anthem on The Experience Stage is gradually becoming your thing, let’s talk about it:
Chee: I call it a mantle.
BBT: What’s it like for you looking forward to the Experience every year knowing it’s another opportunity for you to be upstage even if all you get to do is the Nigerian national anthem?
Chee: this is my seventh year, the first year I was fortunate to do it with Onos Ariyo & Nathaniel Bassey, it felt like what I am doing here as a first timer on this stage being paired with Pastor Nath & Onos, slowly I got my footing from the year I passed out on stage & was rushed to the hospital (if you guys will remember). From then till now I think I have gotten my footing, then your comment on instagram made me reallycomfortable that night where you said “I sang with ease”. That’s what I have been praying for, as simple as the national anthem is, it’s quite spiritual because the positioning that we have is that which is to appeal to the church & state finding a way to bring both together, so it’s a huge responsibility one which I tell Pastor every time. You can’t fall anybody’s hand (you can’t disappoint anyone) including yourself. So, I make sure it’s not just about the singing or vocals but more about delivering a message of hope to every Nigerian.
BBT: Well, my comment on Instagram wasn’t necessarily to make you feel good, it was basically what I saw as you rendered the national anthem. Three of you stood to sing and there you were making singing look so easy; I could tell it came from a place of ease.
Chee: it came from a place of rest. This year I have learnt how to rest in God, singing the national anthem was a piece of cake among the things that had happened to me this year, then it was quite weird because the crowd were booing in reaction to the speech of the Lagos State rep, at the time we were asked to come sing the anthem, it looked like it was in an attempt to save the day whereas that was actually the next on the program. We were on stage for about two minutes trying to get ourselves ready, trying to get the attention of the crowd, it felt like a neck wrecking two minutes.
BBT: How long have you done music, has it always been gospel for you?
Chee: No, it hasn’t always been gospel. I started with children’s choir since age 4, when I was in the US, I was choir director for 10 years & then I got tired of giving my all to church so I said to myself “I’m going back to Nigeria for music” but not gospel, a few persons asked if I was mad or something & I told them I was fine but tired of church music.
I came back to Nigeria & for 5 years I was trying to be who I was not. The music I was making at the time was sweet but it was at a time where you almost had to be extreme on both sides, if you were too sweet, you don’t get as much acceptance so there would be a need to be a bit raunchy but that wasn’t my style & then if you weren’t singing about God, the church condemns you so I couldn’t just fit. I did pretty okay, was a brand ambassador for two years, I had done Nigerian national anthem for about 8 presidents including Bill Clinton, Emmanuel Macron, Rwandan president, also had others things I was doing with my music. God just kept the national anthem part consistent when I transitioned to gospel music.
I had an EP ready featuring MI, Duncan Mighty, Sarkodie, I mean the best there was in the industry at the time then I took a trip, “please don’t take trips cos it can be life altering”(on a lighter note), I needed a break so I went to London. The thing about being a child of God is no matter how far you go, the Holy Spirit is always there talking to you, I heard in my spirit “all these music work you just did aren’t going to be released” and now I am glad I didn’t because no matter where I am now I probably would have had to be doing so much explanations, MI had asked when the EP was coming out & I told him it wasn’t going t be released.
The beauty of this transition was I hibernated for a year & half trying to just build up my faith, when I told the people around me at the time I was going to do gospel, all of them including MI, Waje, Flavour were like we have been waiting to hear & see you do this, someone said this is what we all should be doing we are just afraid we won’t be able to feed our families. I was tagged the bravest among them then. It wasn’t like I didn’t need money because I actually didn’t have money at the time, I was just like I am God’s child so God will figure out how I would be fine, I can’t figure out the music and the money, He has to do that.
BBT: Do you feel fulfilled since the transitioning asides all the encouraging comments you got from the people around you?
Chee: I feel like I am in my purpose & that’s the most important thing to me because at the end of the day when we all transition I don’t want to hear you didn’t even scratch the surface of what you were sent to do, it started feeling like I was now on track, it takes time for people to believe your message, for people to accept you aren’t doing it because there is no other option, a lot of people do not know I am an engineer who have worked for the US government for seven years, I quit all of that to become a pop star but God had other plans.
BBT: For everyone who has seen the video or listen to munachimuso, I’m sure they’d agree the song is coming from a very deep place. I have seen the official video & also watched you do the song live; my conclusion was the song is from a deep place.
Chee: So, it’s weird, the song came very randomly in March 26th, I saw a video of an accident that happened in California, there was a rescue mission to save a victim from a vehicle that was looking almost like a pancake, eventually the guy was brought out of the wreck & he had no scratch. The first thing that dropped in my spirit was ‘yanachi ya so” meaning his God was with him.
I couldn’t have my devotion that morning, I was in tears all through & before I knew it, I had done a song from beginning to end in one voice note, I saw how everyone looked at him and I said it was grace, the lyrics kept on coming.
The amazing thing about the song is me being a first partaker, I didn’t know I could write a song like this just yet & at once too. I called the producer, everything aligned, the song was ready & it changed my life.
BBT: Something unusual happened at The Experience with a video ad of the song Munachimuso popping up, how did that feel?
Chee: That’s favour. All I know is I got a call asking for a 1minute director’s cut, a voice over & that it would be played as an ad during the Experienceconcert, I was like waoh! Because I had never seen anything like that happen during the event. I thought of who was going to handle the voice over aspect & then I saw Ik Osakioduwa, he said to me “ is there anything you need, I will do it for you”, it felt strange he asked, but then I told him I needed a voice over done, and he did it perfectly, we sent it in & I was told it’s been cued to play during the concert and it felt like a shock. My manager had timing the ad details but I didn’t, so I was in the green room when it popped up, my manager recorded it, I’m just grateful to Pastor Paul for the kind gesture.
BBT: How has it been since Munachimuso went live, feedback and all?
Chee: I didn’t know a lot of people were suffering until this song went live. People say Nigerians are the happiest, there is a difference between happiness & joy, we create our happiness but lack joy. People were hurting& going through hell, and this song came as healing. My dm is full with messages from people not talking about loss alone but the unexpected random things. A doctor said to me your song does in 7 minutes what we try to do in counselling for 6 weeks, he said “we actually play your song for our patients”. Another doctor in Kentucky that said they play the song when they perform surgery, it’s a song that has cut across religious barriers, people who haven’t listened to a Nigerian song before now, so its just the spirit of God in the song healing people.
BBT: How do people connect with you wanting to know more about you & your music?
Chee: My social media handle is @officialchee on all social media platforms. Thank you so much for having me here today.
BBT: Thank you so much Chee for coming.
Urban Gospel is a premium radio show airing every Sunday on 99.9 Kissfm Abuja at 6pm. Connect @urbangospel360 on all social media platforms.