Anifowose Oluwatobiloba Ridwan, popularly referred to as Tee Praize by his many fans, is a young man with an angelic voice whose love for God is evident in his ministry. He is the writer and composer of many high-spirit tracks such as Oba to gbogo fun ole, Jesu Lagba and many other. He is a highly focused gospel artist, who forfited his expertise as a Quantity Surveying to heed to his true calling as a son of God. Owing to his love from music, he wishes to further expand his knowledge in the field. Not minding his roots as a son to a Muslim father and all the expectations that come with it, he took the part of his mother and dwells in it. He went on to specialise in praise and worship songs. Born and bred in the famous Ajegunle ghetto, he took on his calling to be a channel to connect him with God through praise.
On his visit to City People’s office, Gbagada are in Lagos, he revealed so many things about himself and his perception of gospel singers and their challenges in this secular world. Below are the experts of the interview:
Can we get to know you?
My name is Anifowose Oluwatobiloba Ridwan popularly known as Tee Praize. The name Tee Praize was coined from my name Tobiloba and praize from praise. I am into music and I am gospel artist. I officially went into gospel music 10 years ago. I majorly sing praise and worship songs.
Tell us about your background?
I attended Baptist Primary School at Marine Beach, Agbo, then I later moved to Randle Secondary school at Apapa, when I left secondary school, I furthered my study at the university to read Quantity Surveying in the University of Lagos.
How do you merge being a Quantity Surveyor and music together?
I am actually not practising Quantity Surveying as my calling has not given me a chance to. If I had known that this is what I will be doing, I would have gone into music at school. It is what I plan doing when I get a chance to further for my master’s.
Can you tell us about your popular tracks?
I am yet to have an album, but I have some singles that went viral. I have Jesulagba and Oba to Gbogo Fun ole.
What inspired you into gospel music?
To me gospel music wasn’t what I wanted to go into. It was a calling for me. From my name Ridwan you will be able to deduce that I have a Muslim background, so with all that had happened, it was a calling. I grew up loving music when I became a drummer in church. I began to love gospel music.
How did your family feel about you going into Christian gospel music?
It was not too difficult because of the type of family I came from. My father is a Muslim and my mother is a Christian, so we were free to decide if we wanted to go to church or mosque. You know with the Nigerian or African belief you have to go to your father’s religion. But I stayed with my mother, while growing because of my father’s absence; I attended church more than I have ever been to a mosque. So with all of that, it was not difficult.
What is your inspiration?
I will say my environment inspires me. I want to be able to tell people things through the word of God, and looking at our dispensation right now, everything happening has been written before, that is why musicians are called messengers and good music should be able to pass a message, so the environment I find myself in has been a source of inspiration.
Gospel artistes are given less attention unlike the secular ones, how do you manage with that?
First we have been growing with God’s help and we are still fighting to scale through. But the challenges are many especially for gospel artists who do not want to shift to secular music. To ensure continuity, we have to continue facing challenges that come looking up to God for help.
Have you at any point in your career tried to embrace secular music?
Yes I have, there was a time I almost went into secular music because my friends and colleagues thought I could and they were sure that I would make more money if I did. But I chose my calling and I decided not to take such songs as it would affect my career because people felt I was a stereotype gospel music.
Tell us about the early years of your career?
It was a difficult phase. Many don’t know that I started from a church in a popular Lagos ghetto, Ajegunle. This was where the likes of Daddy Showkey and the others grew up. So, you know how growing up there was, tough Gospel music in Ajegunle is hard, so it is hard to rise as a gospel artiste there. Back then, I would visit many churches to drop my name for any program. Then there was no money from doing this, I will have to look for my transport fare and minister then later get ‘’God bless you’’ at the end of it. So this was not just money for me, it was doing what I wanted to do. This whole hustle would make anyone want to stop gospel music. So, as time went on, I started seeing God’s work in my ministry.
What is you perception about whether or not a gospel artiste should be paid?
My perspective on this issue is simple. Anybody who works should be paid, that is; all services should be paid for, so all musicians should be paid. This can help them to keep up the work and look good. So, I will say gospel artistes should be paid too.