"I Was More Of A Footballer Than A Singer. I Wanted To Be A Footballer" - Tim Godfrey
Via an interview with THE SUN, popular gospel singer Tim Godfrey shares some facts you may not know about him.
How was growing up back in the city of Kaduna?
That’s where I grew up. I grew up in a village called Nasarawa. I came from a family of nine. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. We were very, very poor. I couldn’t afford anything good. I hawked on the streets too. It is a mixed feeling for me, right now. I can remember I was once a (bus) conductor with my dad being the driver. A lot of people don’t know that’s how I grew up. I had just one meal in a day. I was also a houseboy for about three years.
Did you set out to do music professionally, aside being in the church choir as a teenager?
No, I never did, though I loved music quite alright. I was more of a footballer than a singer. I wanted to be a footballer and I did it for a long time. I was already in the adult choir when I got to secondary school. I started teaching myself how to play some instruments, from my uncle I lived with then.
What kind of parents do you have?
The usual one…
How much of care and support did you get from them?
We were very poor. I mean very poor, the type that poor people will even call poor. We were leaving the house to be houseboys, so we were never together for long. I lost my dad when I was very young.
What informed your choice of gospel music over secular?
I have always been a church boy. Most of the secular artistes you know were church boys too. I had so much passion for choirs, and I play about five instruments. I play them really good. I am a complete musician. I started studying the likes of Kirk Franklin, Hezekiah Walker and the rest. They all in- formed the kind of music I do today. They do very detailed music. Even my sound is not totally the religious churchy kind of sound, but I have a way of driving home the message to the people.
People say you are the Nigerian version of Kirk Franklin, Micah Stampley and Travis Greene. How does that make you feel?
Yes, people have likened me more to Kirk Franklin. Kirk was one of the guys that changed gospel music in America, despite that he was highly criticised. They could say that about me right now because my sound is not religious. I have also got to the level that I have created my own brand. These people and I are very close now and we relate together as international artistes. A lot of people now want to sound like us. Things have really changed such that people want to be like Tim Godfrey.
Are you also of the view that gospel music doesn’t really fetch so much money as secular ones?
I am not into music because of fame or fortune. It was more about God’s kingdom.
Who would have been paying your bills?
God supplies all needs. I have a business part, like you see in my office. That is not to say that we don’t get honorarium. The gospel genre is more consistent than the secular and I think it keeps growing. I don’t believe in complaining. I believe in change and we are bringing in the necessary change right now.
Recall the first time you appeared on a big stage, how was the experience for you?
I think it was Kora Awards in 2006, in South Africa. But the biggest platform was The Experience where we had over 500,000 people in attendance. I have also been in so many big shows in America and across Africa.
What challenges do you face as a single father?
Men! You don do too much research on top my matter o! I have never talked about that. Okay, my son stays with me. I basically now respect women more because I do all that women do, since I never liked the idea of having a maid. I have to make sure I take care of him, take him to school, drop him off, cook for him and so on. I feel that we don’t give as much credit to women.
Are you considering marriage anytime soon?
Absolutely! It is one of the things I am hoping would happen this year or hopefully next year.
What’s your kind of lady?
If I meet the person, I will know. But for now, I am still very single. I don’t think there is anything that is ideal about any human being. Some look at the outwards, but I think I like a lady that is very intelligent. I am matured enough to know what relationship is about. I can’t wait to get married.
Are you in a relationship right now?
I am not. I am a very honest person. But I am looking forward to get into one.
Tim is a fine guy, rich, intelligent and very talented. How do you manage female fans that want more from you?
I’ve not really had too much of issues with female fans because I have been able to set standards, to cover me up. I don’t give anybody my contacts. I change my line every two years, just in case it spreads out. If some stubborn ladies push beyond (the limit), I think I have been able to handle it. I can’t get vulnerable. I try to be very careful as much as I can.
What sort of feeling do you get when you hear that some gospel artistes are promiscuous?
I think we are all human. The reason why you are accused is because you are a celebrity. The people that accuse them are probably not clean too. We all have to be very careful to avoid all sorts, but we all make mistakes. Even as a man of God, you are first a man.
What’s your assessment of gospel music in Nigeria?
I think it is doing very well. I am not a fan of that phrase – gospel music. I do kingdom sounds. I do whatever God lays in my heart. Anyone that does love songs, in as much as he’s not vulgar, he’s a gospel artiste. I listen to all songs- Wizkid, Davido, and Tiwa etc. I listen to everybody. I believe that you can do whatever you choose to do, so long as you are touching lives. I don’t believe in vulgarism and videos where breasts are revealed. There is always a sound for every situation.
In one of your performances, you said that you were able to mobilise some millions of naira for a convert. How did you go about that?
I can’t remember saying that but that should be about ‘Fearless’. It has been a God’s project. I can only say God funded everything. I honestly do think that God is my source. Next year, it’s going to be in Eko Hotels. I am one of those people that believe in breaking barriers. I sometimes sell my belongings to get it done. The biggest failure is when you don’t try at all.
How rich is Tim Godfrey?
I am just a houseboy. I can never say that I am rich. All you see me do is taking bold steps.
If you are not rich, how come you have a house in Lekki?
(Laughs) Who told you I have a house in Lekki? Honestly, you can’t compare the little things people like us have to what many others have. I am not greedy. As I am, I can carry plantains on my head and walk on the street. My first night in Lagos was (spent) under the bridge in Oshodi. About six to 12 of us lived in one room. So, I have seen that part of life that nothing moves me at all. I have been a music director for 24 years and I have been doing it professionally for 14 years now. If I was doing secular, I probably would have been an uncle to most people they call legends now, but I wait on God and I am very comfortable with myself. So, I think I am just a normal guy. I am not yet there. When I get there, you will know.