Culture

CalledOut Music – A Messenger of Hope

Regardless of how wonderful or rosy your situation may be, when difficulty arises, the thought of giving up is often on your mind. CalledOutMusic is not exempt from this type of emotion.

By Aisha Aliu

August 10, 2022

CalledOut Music – A Messenger of Hope

Regardless of how wonderful or rosy your situation may be, when difficulty arises, the thought of giving up is often on your mind. CalledOutMusic is not exempt from this type of emotion.

 

“I probably say I’m done with music at least three times in a year, like completely.”

 

Samuel Nwachukwu, professionally known as CalledOutMusic is a Nigerian-British gospel musician whose musical journey began at the young age of 7. He however didn’t pursue his passion until his 21st birthday. 

 

The singer’s origin lay in Kaduna, Nigeria. During a period of time when the Sharia fight was happening, Samuel’s family was one of the Christian families in a Muslim society, and even when his house suffered casualties from the chaos, they drew strength from their faith.  Samuel's decisions and way of life have always been greatly influenced by his Christian upbringing.

 

His family eventually relocated to the UK when he was 12. He spent his time writing music and pursuing a degree in finance, his plan being – working in a corporate environment for a couple of years before retiring and pursuing music. 

 

Life doesn’t always turn out as planned, sometimes, it turns out better.

 

“I had initially thought I’d have to work for maybe 10 to 15 years, then retire and go into music but then the opportunity presented itself and I was like “Dream big, nothing is impossible and why not now?” and it turned out that the best time to do it was when I did it.”

 

On his 21st birthday, he released his first single “Working on me”, embarking on a solo music career after years of producing original songs for musicals and featuring in other artists' songs.

 

CalledOut’s music expresses his religious convictions and way of life. With his music, he hopes to spread messages of hope and encourage listeners to find comfort in the teachings of God.

 

Samuel Nwachukwu discusses his journey, his inspiration, and his approach to his music in this interview. He also touches on his future ambitions.

 

Your love for music became eminent at 7 when you had just gotten a piano. At your age did you realise you could do music professionally? 

It was quite late. I realised that I could probably do it when I was 18 or 19.  I also had a job, working in finance. I’m a finance graduate. I was working for about 8 months and then I realised that I could actually be doing music. I had initially thought I’d have to work for maybe 10 to 15 years, then retire and go into music but the opportunity presented itself and I was like “Dream big, nothing is impossible, and why not now?” and it turned out that the best time to do it was when I did it. I was only 23 and I quit my full-time job and chased music and I think God blessed it. We are here now.  I thought I could do it when I was 18 but didn’t realise that dream until when I was 23. 

 

You didn’t think, “maybe I could do this with a full-time job? Did you hate finance that bad?”

To be honest, it wasn’t my favourite thing to study, I won’t even lie. There were sleepless nights where I was like “Oh my goodness, what is going on? Why am I studying this?” I think, when you have a dream, it’s very hard to ignore that dream. There is something that you’ve wanted to do because all my life, I’ve learned to do what I needed to do to get to the next step, so I had always put my feelings aside. I always wanted to do music, but you know, wanted to study other things that would give me the best opportunities for success, if you think about it. Finance is a very broad degree that could take you anywhere, so I thought I’d do it. I didn’t enjoy it but at the end of the day, I came out a much-rounded individual with a degree, more connections, with more corporate experience and when I decided to delve into music, I realised I was a lot more efficient as a human being. I could manage my time, I could stick to a task, I could bring people in, and I could manage a team. All those things some artists lack because they just don’t have the experience to, I have because I’ve worked in the corporate space for a number of years and I’m able to be a better artist even as I progress into owning my record label and stuff like that. I don’t feel unprepared for that. So, I guess finance, even though I didn’t like it, even though I cried a lot, I think God has used it for that.

 

So, you have produced lots of songs, do you have a favourite song you always thought would get produced but didn’t?

There are a lot of songs in the bank. There are lots of songs on the hard drive that are just sitting there. Funny enough, I was just going through it since we dropped the new project. I was going through a couple of hard drives, and I was just listening back to the hundreds and hundreds of songs that have never seen the light of day for one reason or the other. There are all songs like that and every now and then, we will just find a gem and we are like “why haven’t we done anything with this?” and then we will bring it back and refresh and then, put it out. Yeah, there are lots of stuff sitting there, yeah. So much music.


 

You mentioned that working in finance helped become more efficient as a human, so right now, I could say that you’re at the top of your own game, you have peace of mind, and everything is in order,  if you could add one more thing to your career, what would it be? 

I don’t actually know.  You know, that’s a very good question because I’ve never thought about that. I don’t actually feel like I’m lacking anything. The only thing I wish I had done differently is, I wish I had the boldness to start earlier. That’s what I wish. I wish I wasn’t too afraid, fear was the main reason I didn’t make the jump. I was just afraid to fail but now I wish I had just taken that jump. Life is so beautiful that you trying and failing something doesn’t make you a failure, it just means that maybe it wasn’t the right time and then you learn from that experience and pick yourself up and go again. But no, right now, in this very moment, I don’t think I have anything that I lack that I wish I had. That’s my answer. 

 

What do you think you would have accomplished more of, had you started early enough? 

I think maybe I would have had more experience in music, and I would have had more connections but that’s the way God designs life.  His timing is always the best, as we all say. Although, in the grand scheme of things,  I feel like I started when I was supposed to, if I started a couple of years before, obviously I would have had more music out. I would have had more experience in releasing, dropping, trying new things, failing at stuff, and succeeding at other things. I would have definitely travelled to more countries, touring lots of countries.  Only recently did I  discover my personality on stage and brought that out so I can shine on stage and had I been performing earlier than that, I would have reached that point sooner. That’s just my only, sort of, regret. 

Of all genres, why gospel? Also, what keeps you going?

Yeah, I think I always wanted to keep it real and keep it authentic because my faith is such a huge part of my life and I’ve just always wanted to keep that part alive.  I didn’t want to pretend to sing about things I didn’t really believe because I think people will be unable to connect with you if they don’t feel the authenticity behind what you do.  What keeps me going … I’m in year 6 now of doing this music and I do feel like I have more to give. I’m living out my faith every day so there are more experiences that I’m getting, more inspiration to write, and more inspiration to sing. When you have a miracle, for example, and God provides for you or takes care of you, it gives you more things to write about so that you can share it with other people. I guess that’s why I decided to do gospel because I’m living it every day. 

 

Have you at any point in your life had anything happen to you and you're instantly aware it’s God’s mercies and not just your efforts?

Yeah, happens all the time. There are situations things happen and you just can’t explain it and I think, that the supernatural element of it is true evidence that God exists. There are things that are out of my control, personal things that happened to me even recently, and the way these things have been resolved, the way I’ve come out on the other side, smiling with my head held high, it's only testimony that God exists, and you know, that’s the kind of thing I can’t take credit for. Even with the music that I’ve created over the last 6 years. I understand that there is favour on what we have done because the rate at which we have been able to travel and tour and go to so many countries and have a fanbase is surreal. Yet,  everything is still getting bigger and bigger. On the surface, you can say “he is not really dropping anything different from what some other people might be doing” but I just know that it’s not my efforts that make it happen. I always say to people, God is the extra to my ordinary so he makes it extraordinary because he takes what I give, and he magnifies it. So there are things I just cannot take credit for, and my life is living proof of that. 

 

Gospel is a genre that not many people are into. We have hip-hop, afro and all of that but not so many people delve into gospel but it’s something that you’ve done, and you have one of the largest fanbases in the world, it's extraordinary. How do you handle that fame, all the tension, fans, and family?

To be very honest with you, that’s something I take with a pinch of salt, not to say I don’t appreciate the support, I really do and it’s crazy and sometimes it’s a bit scary, but at the same time, I know that people are in love with the music as opposed to the person so I never try to take all of that praise and all of that adoration. I’ve never tried to let it get to me or get to my head because I know that it’s simply a product of God’s grace in my life. That just makes me want to remain connected to the source who is God so that I can keep being a blessing to my fans/family so that as they are getting drawn to sort of like the wave of what’s going on, they are not just leaving with “oh that was a good song,” they are leaving with a very good message, the lyrics already touching them and meaning something.  Having this viewpoint has helped me sort of normalised the fame and now see people not as fans but as a tribe.  A tribe of people who support what I do.  I don’t see myself as a sort of superstar,  I am just about the message of hope and if you are happy with that message, feel free to join the wave.  I’m also very introverted, when people recognise me on the streets sometimes, I get nervous because it’s not my thing. It is very amazing to see it happen and I do appreciate the love that I get.

 

In your six years of career, have things ever gotten so difficult that you were unsure you would get through it? 

Yeah. I always joke with my manager. I probably say I’m done with music at least three times in a year, like completely. There was one particular occasion, I think. It was probably this time last year, if I’m not been mistaken, it was more of an emotional ditch where I felt like I had given everything and I felt like I had nothing left to offer, musically, spiritually, and emotionally. I was so invested in the music that I felt it started to take a toll on me. I think I had to get over that by talking to people. Life is one of those things we are not meant to do alone. Nobody is an island. We all need community and I’m so grateful for the community of people that I had around me at the time who just said, “Look, God has called you for a thing, you just keep going with your head high.” This is for anyone who might be going through a ditch. It’s well enough saying you want to get through it yourself, but we should never underestimate how powerful it is to have people speaking to us and helping us get through life. One of the songs from the album was actually birthed from that phase of my life and it’s called provider.  It is a beautiful story of how God can use things to bless other people if that makes sense.

 

Absolutely. So when you decided to do gospel, what did your family think? How did they take the change and the news? 

My family was like, “just finish your degree.” My dad was like “Whatever you want to do, I’m not bothered, just finish the degree then live your life.” So, I think he wasn’t really that bothered if I wanted to go into music. My mom was a bit cautious, I guess she just wanted to see her son do well in life. Bless our parents. There’s a way they grew up and know success to be. Not this generation where you can be a millionaire from making YouTube videos. It's very new to them, they don’t understand it. They don’t understand why you would want to do music full-time. I had a concert in 2018 and it was my very first concert and about a thousand and three hundred people showed up. It was massive. My parents were at the front, and they saw people react to the music and I was just like “Wow, thank God.” The next week my dad came out to me, and he said, “Samuel, when is your next single dropping now? You haven’t dropped a song in a while.” It’s so funny because he didn’t really understand it before. They just want to see whether you’re going to be okay. So, I always tell people who maybe tell me, “Hey, I want to do music, but my parents aren’t supportive,” put something together and show them why this thing is important because if they don’t see it, it’s kinda hard to explain to your parents that you are a TikTok star. What does that mean? Put the numbers together, show them your videos, show them the brand exposure that you’re getting, and then sooner rather than later, they will come around.

 

Describe yourself in a way you would want to be known and seen in the next five years.

I would like to be known as a very humble guy. Someone who makes incredible music but has a big heart for people. I think for the next five years, I wanna do more charitable stuff for my home country. That’s where my heart has been.  If I’m known as a man of humility, right standing in the eyes of God, and someone who does the work on behalf of people who may not have the resources to do it, I think my life would be very fulfilled, if I’m honest, yeah.