Chris Shalom is a Nigerian music producer, song writer and gospel artiste famed for his songs such as ‘My Beautifier’ and ‘Power Belongs to Jesus’. On a recent Kenyan tour, he had a chat with with LILYS NJERU
Shalom — quite a unique name. Is there a story behind it?
Oh, yes! A long story. My father left us and I grew up not knowing what my surname meant. Coincidentally, I was also attending a Bible school and I needed to be sure that people called me a name with a good meaning. There is power in a name, you know! However, nobody seemed to know what the name meant. I consulted my mother — she has since passed on — and sister and they gave me the go-ahead to change the name.
When I came across Shalom, meaning peace, the search was over. But I later learnt that my original surname, Abdul Salam, means ‘man of peace’. My father was Muslim.
It’s your first time in Kenya, did you know how popular your music is here?
I had an idea but I didn’t know the intensity! When I got to the airport, I was amazed that the staff knew me. I could even hear some of the hotel staff where I was staying humming my songs. It is incredible yet humbling. Kenyans are warm, I have had an amazing experience.
Tell us about your latest album ‘Beautifier’. The songs seem to flow from the same source. Where were you in life when you wrote them?
The songs are mainly praise and worship because He has been amazing in many ways. If someone told me 20 years ago that I would be where I am today, it would have been hard for me to believe. The songs are a testimony of God’s transformational power. He makes the lowly dine with kings and I have seen people who the society has given up on rising up to be conquerors and mighty people.
What inspired you into the gospel sphere?
The seed was sown in me when I was nine. I used to accompany my mother for her church choir practice and that is how I got to know about Christ. Gospel means good news and I have been ordained to be the carrier of good news. This is the only life I know— worship and praise. However, I am working on a couple of love songs and I will be releasing them in the near future.
You have recorded more than 20 songs, which is your best?
Most artistes will tell you that their best songs are not even known. I am grateful that the released songs have positively impacted many lives. But believe me, although they are a blessing to me, I don’t even sing them. I am like a fountain of songs; I hum to songs that I haven’t even recorded yet — which tells you that much more is coming from me.
What are some of the misconceptions about gospel music?
People get it twisted that gospel music is just a genre but it is deeper than that. Most gospel artistes are deep in the word, deep in Christ and active in Christ’s activities. If what you are singing is not giving life to people, you need to have a self-introspection of your life and character. You realise that most Nigerian gospel artistes are deep in the word. By the way, Sinach, Ada and I fellowship in the same church.
What truth have you held throughout your journey?
God is real. No matter the darkness I encounter or things that want to shake my faith, I hold onto that truth.
I think I will be a preacher, someday.
What’s your favourite musical instrument?
Give me the piano, anytime.
What are you most afraid of?
Fear? No. I am not afraid of anything. Fear torments. Why choose that? Every day I am confronted by things that are meant to scare me but I am comforted that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.
If we lived in the Biblical days, who would have been your ideal wife?
(Laughs) I have never thought about that but it has to be Mary mother of Jesus. She received favour and the fact that she was the one that gave us the saviour of the world, she must have possessed something that made her stand out.
Talking about marriage, is that a wedding ring?
Oh yes! I have been married to my lovely wife for the last 11 years.
What makes you laugh really loud?
‘Bank Alert’ by P Square.