Unlike secular artistes, gospel artistes will never do secular music – Mark T
McAnthony Chinedu Mgbor aka Mark T is a popular gospel singer who made it to limelight with the track Helele in 2005. Ever since, it has been journey to greatness for the singer who has so far established himself as one of the best gospel singers in Nigeria and beyond.
In this interview with CHINEDU HARDY NWADIKE, Mark T tells the story that has never been told about him. Also speaking of his worries on how gospel artistes are relenting in taking over the musical scene of the world because they do not invest on the media.
I am McAnthony Chinedu Mgbor popularly known as Mark T. I'm from Umualaoma in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State
The beginning of your story
It is really funny how it started because I don't think I really wanted to get into the music industry in the first place. But it all started when I gave my life to Christ.
After that, I noticed that I have something about music in me and just the normal thing I joined the choir and started singing and from there, I developed myself, got better and better and one day while I escorted a friend to sing somewhere, I met Mr. P, CEO GB Studios and he decided to sign me up. That's was how I got into the first record label that did my first album.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was fun, it was really crazy because I was notorious as a kid. I come from a very comfortable home; I had a very comfortable childhood. It's more like a childhood where you had everything that you needed like video games and movies. Anything a child could wish for, I had it.
I am a graduate of Education Social Studies from University of Nigeria Nsukka Satellite campus at Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education [AIFCE] Owerri.
What would you have become in your school days?
I saw myself becoming a pastor but it didn't really end up like that because at a particular point it was intercepted by God and the music thing came in.
But as a kid I wanted to do Public Relations because I felt I could relate with people easily. I wanted to do something that will revolve around relating to people.
What has music done for you?
On the spiritual aspect of it which I consider the most important, music has given me an opportunity to affect lives. When I do songs that encourage people; songs that move people to lift up their hands and worship God, I feel very great about that because at the end of the day, people get born again and a whole lot of them send me messages to thank me. It feels great.
On the financial side, music has paid my bills.
One challenge everyone faces is the financial challenge where you have to spend a lot of money to get what you want because right now, music is expensive. So to be able to get out with the kind of thing you want, you need to have a lot of finance. And you really have to trust God to do that because you have to do that to stay relevant.
The challenge of doing what you've been really called to do instead of dancing to the crowd. Sometimes it is like that is what everyone is doing why don't you try it.
It is true everyone is doing it, I can do a bit of it and then do what I am called to do. Even if people don't really buy into this that much, it doesn't border me.
Balancing the business and impact side of gospel music
Even in the church, we are there to change lives; I believe that almost everything in life has the business aspect. An example is the bible, people are meant to read them and get blessed but the bibles are not free.
Even though our motive is to bless lives, we are also mindful that there is a financial part of it, but the thing is that the finance is not our motive.
We understand that we have been called to impact lives, but we also understand that when these CDs come out, people are going to buy them.
Lifestyle of gospel artistes
You are talking about someone who sings and people fall under the anointing and at the end of the day, his life is nothing to write home about. It is not helping the gospel music industry because I believe that as a gospel artiste, your life should represent what you sing in songs.
That does not mean we should condemn or kill the person because people have various backgrounds and are going through different things.
If someone gives his life to Christ today, it doesn't automatically make the person perfect. He would struggle with somethings until he gets okay with them. Character building is a process and we should employ patience.
Secular artistes retire into gospel and gospel artistes launch into secular music. Why?
I don't believe gospel artistes launch into secular music because I think that before a statement like that can be made, we really have to check how many of them that have made that move.
We are talking about someone that used to sing in church like Beyoncé, DBanj, Samklef and even Wizkid was once in the choir at 11 years. He doesn't know his right from his left at that time.
Most of these people are people that grew up in the church and at the end they started doing secular music. Being a church person or a chorister does not really make one a gospel artiste.
It's too early to say that. If one of the major gospel artistes has moved to secular music we can say that; because all I see are major secular artistes moving to gospel music.
Are you worried about the little airtime gospel music gets?
This is really a challenge and I am really worried about it. When you turn on the DSTV you find out that there are few channels that are for gospel, and the rest are secular.
This is a call to Christians around the world to invest in media. The reason why it is like that is that these people are the ones that invested there and they play what they like.
They have what they want to project and you can't expect them to be playing gospel music all the time but if we own a station, then we're the ones to determine what will be played.
It is not enough for us to get angry and say why are they not playing our songs? The anger should move us to pray for the Christians to take over more stations.
Gospel artiste believe in 'Holy Spirit' promotion
It is simply ignorance. I believe a Christian should think that he does not need to promote his music. I believe that we should maximize the media. Aside music, the media is reaching a whole lot of people that the pulpit is reaching right now.
Anyone who is not buying into the media is ignorant. There are lots of channels for promotion on the internet and other media and any Christian who is thinking that Holy Spirit will promote his song for him is right. But I believe that the Holy Spirit works with you. Just like Jesus fed 5000 people, they brought what they had first.
By the time we promote our songs, God can now command people to get them online and anywhere they are.
You have to put the video on YouTube so that God will command people to watch it.
Who is Mark T?
I am a born again, Holy Ghost guy. I am a serious church boy and God lover. I am an easy going person and I love to relate with people and making them happy.
Anyone who cannot really relate with me is a difficult person.
Your musical achievements
I have four albums so far. I released my first album in 2005; the title was Most High and the hit song there was 'Helele'. The second one was 'God don Bless' in 2008 and the hit track there was a Makosa track 'God don Bless'. The third one was titled My Diary in 2011 and the final one was released in Mach this year and it is titled 'So Blessed'.
After the release, I have been touring places. I went to South Africa and have been on tour since then.
After the tour, I became a Pathfinder Ambassador. PathFinders is a New York City based NGO by the daughter of Bishop Idahosa, Ruth.
I also have a single I did with Ruth Idahosa which I am yet to release and there is a single I am working on right now.
I am also working on a video which will be out by January or February, 2015.
I am also starting up a music school for people that want to become gospel recording artistes. There, I will be dealing with them on life before the studio, in the studio and after the studio. I am going to use my own experience and the professional things I know. It will be kicking off by next year.
Relationship with younger artistes
I am very open to younger gospel artistes and I am not really someone that hoards information. I get to help as much as I can but I am not really perfect in this because most times I get plenty buzzes on Facebook and I can't really reply all of them.
By God's grace, when my record label gets a lot bigger, I will be helping a lot them. Not really signing them up but I can help them record a single for free.
I am not married but presently engaged. I have done my introduction and will be getting married next year.
Her name is Peace Okon and she is from Akwa Ibom State.