Born and raised in Utopia, Akwa Ibom, this pastor’s boy has always been into music from a very young age. He grew up in Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo. But the Monef Kiddies School primary school pupil; Topfaith International Secondary School and Surefoot International School, Calabar, student is now a Grammy nominee. His name is Josiah Bassey.
What’s your music story?
I started playing the drums at age three and was singing from age five. Then I learned to play seven other instruments in school (Monef Elementary School and Topfaith Secondary School).
I learned a lot by living with musicians in my home because my dad would house them when they didn’t have anywhere to stay. I started writing songs when I was 13 — but just for myself at the time.
By age 11, I was producing music. That was when my production journey began; by watching my family friends play with music software like “FL studio” and “Reason”.
I was the lead guitar player at Monef from primary 3 to 5, when I graduated. My music teacher, Mr. John Ikpe, was very instrumental to adding the passion and fire I have toward music today. He gave me and every student the freedom to express themselves however we could, through music.
How did you meet the co-writers and singers of “Hold Us Together”?
I moved to New York City for school and in that time I started playing shows and getting studio sessions and somehow I got connected to my manager, Conrad Robinson.
He heard my music and was interested in working with me, and somehow he introduced me to H.E.R. and her manager. From there, we built a great relationship and got to collaborate on this awesome song; I played the guitar you hear on the song.
Is there a story behind the song?
Yes, there is. So I had just fallen sick at the start of the pandemic and all this uncertainty and fear was creeping into my mind and I couldn’t help it. It left me feeling almost helpless.
However, having a foundation in God will always see you through hard times. I was inspired to write the song then, initially as a personal reminder that my life is in the hands of the creator and I had the power to believe and hope instead of fear.
When the Grammy nomination came how did you feel?
Shocked. Speechless. Although I had been manifesting it all year, I was surprised that my first nomination came from this song.
I didn’t have any expectation or prior knowledge that it had been entered for the Grammy consideration. So it was a bit surreal to me.
Is this feeling enough even if the gong goes elsewhere?
I think that the impact the song has had on peoples’ lives is enough for me. So many people have come up to tell me how the words of the song have brought them through the toughest time of their lives.
What’s the mood in the song’s “camp”?
The mood, when this song was done or even when the music video was being shot was “emotional”. People felt it and felt that regardless of everything we’ve gone through as humans, God holds us together.
Is song writing lucrative?
Yes, song writing can be very lucrative and a person can make a lot of money over time; just have songs out.
Are you working on other projects?
I am currently working on a couple different projects, but most importantly I am working on my own project. I have my debut single projected to drop in February.
What’s that goal/dream you’ve set for yourself?
That I will be successful as an artiste, as well as a songwriter and producer, while living a fulfilled life.
What are your comments on the Nigerian music scene?
I think the Nigerian music scene is at the best place it’s ever been right now. It is being recognised by the world, but more importantly we are unapologetic about who we are and how we’re making our music.