Having moved from a dancehall artiste with the name 1 Zeal to a gospel reggae singer after writing 22 hip hop songs, Samuel Suh has had a change of mentality and perspective about gospel songs and where they should be heard or played.
In an exclusive chat with Adenike Sobo of KOKO TV, the Cameroon-born Samuel Suh is of the opinion that songs glorifying God should not be limited to churches or places of worship alone but every gathering such as weddings and even clubs.
Although, his church members felt uneasy when one time in his church, the choir, to which he belongs, was going to sing Jerusalema during service, Samuel Suh still thinks singing gospel songs in churches or christian congregations alone is not effective. According to him, those people are Christians already and at one point or the other, have heard and known about Christ.
Samuel Suh then noted that playing gospel songs at various places and even on secular radio and television programmes can help people who have not thought about God or their salvation in a while do so. Catch up on the chat below: KOKO TV: Can we meet you Samuel?
Samuel Suh: My name is summer Suh. I was born in Cameroon and I’m currently based in South Africa. I’m a gospel reggae artist. KOKO TV: So who is 1 Zeal Samuel Suh: Yes, that is me. That is me. I was 1 Zeal, now I’m Samuel Suh. KOKO TV: So when you were 1 Zeal, it was was dancehall and reggae and now Samuel Suh, it is gospel reggae. Why the change? Samuel Suh: I just felt like I wanted my music to really be about, you know, God, because I just felt like always, I always sing about maybe ladies, and I was singing about love. But I really had to sing about the one that created love and the one that created the ladies that I sing about, so I felt like I really had to go gospel to really sing about the one that I’m singing things for. I’m not saying hip hop or people doing it are not right or anything but I just felt like I wanted my music to be something someone that is a year old can listen to and someone that is 100 years old can listen to, and I felt like me doing hip hop or dental at the time, my music was just a specific target market. And I didn’t, I didn’t see it like some that all that listen to it. You know? I wasn’t I felt like I wanted to do music that, you know, can relate to everyone music that you know, no matter the age, no matter, you know, the race, you can actually relate to it. KOKO TV: Does this have anything to do with you becoming born again? Samuel Suh: Yes, I think it really has something to do with that. At first it was more dancehall reggae hip hop and now gospel. I had to go with my real name Samuel Suh, I just had to do do things differently. I was actually working on a new project and it was more of hip hop. I did record approximately 22 songs, one called The Rivers and I really felt like that is how my music had to be. KOKO TV: How did your fans take this? Samuel Suh: I think some actually felt like, it was a good thing and others were like noooo, what is going on? They couldn’t believe it because before I did the song, The Creator, I did send a post, like, I’ll be doing more songs now and it is gonna be me thanking God. So they were like reggae and gospel, we haven’t really heard about that, like, how’s that gonna sound? So after I did the song The Creator, I think I had a lot of positive feedback, they were like, well, we feel like this is the music you actually ought to be doing. I really had a lot of feedback from the people, even the people that thought it wasn’t good for me going gospel were like, wow, we love the sound, you know, it’s a blessing to us. And we’d like you to do more of that. Read also: South African Gospel Singer Samuel Suh Drops The Creator KOKO TV: How did the music journey begin? Samuel Suh: Growing up, my sisters always be like, well, you sing nice, why don’t you sing gospel music? But to me, I didn’t really get it because I felt like I couldn’t sing gospel music. I wasn’t inspired for that, so it was tell them I can’t sing gospel music, you know, maybe it’s not my thing. I just feel like, first of all, it’s a God given talent, so I just always felt like, I love singing, I love rapping. I remember growing up in primary school and secondary school, I always rap songs for other artists and people felt like I was talented. I kind of felt that way too so I decided I wanted to do more of hip hop at the time. Growing up, my mom always plays songs at home. Then I feel as time goes by, we become more mature in our music, and then we really want to have music that will impact people. KOKO TV: Since you began music in 2014, that’s six years now, what is the peak for you, what do feel so proud of most so far? Samuel Suh: I really feel like sometimes the the positive feedback that I get from people individually, you know, people asking me hey, what inspired you to make that song at that time? There’s some someone who tells me like, hey, I probably wasn’t really in a good mood but listening to the song, it gave me some sort of positive energy. I have this song that I did in the Lion Boy EP Volume II, it’s called Miss confidence, and someone called me like hey, what inspired you to write the song? I wasn’t really happy at my girlfriend at the time, but listening to your music lifted m. So me just getting that feedback from people really makes me feel like you know, it’s a great thing. Also, I do copywriting – advert copywriting, so I’ve got to, you know, write jingles and also have been in the studio with people like Shaka Shaka. That too, to me was a great time. KOKO TV: If you were not into music, what else would Samuel Suh be? Samuel Suh: I love advertising. Growing up as a kid, I always felt like I wanted to be a creative, I wanted to be in a creative industry. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to be at the time, but I felt like creativity was something that really got me excited. But then, I felt like, I might have been a lawyer because that was that was what my parents really wanted me to be and so it’s something that I also got interested in at some point. I did study law at the University of Douala in Cameroon. My parents were like, you know what?, should in case there’s any issue happening, we need someone to represent us, you know? KOKO TV: So now you just just left them hanging or is any of your sisters a lawyer? Samuel Suh: No, no, none of my sister is a lawyer. I just felt like I had my own dreams to follow and I didn’t want to be like I’m doing something because someone has asked me to. At the time, even studying Law, I felt like I was still more interested in creativity. That’s what I told my dad that I wanted to study creative writing. Back in Cameroon, they were not really universities and colleges that offer creative writing so that’s why I decided to come to South Africa because I really love doing creative writing. KOKO TV: Your growing up sounds quite interesting, give us a background into it. Samuel Suh: Growing up, it was a good memory. I remember we had we had some fruits around our house so sometimes, I could probably get the smell of mango and some other fruits. I grew up a lot mostly with my sisters and it was a it was a bit bored because they never really liked me doing things. My sisters always want to do things for me. So… KOKO TV: (interrupts) Are you the last born of the family? Samuel Suh: No, no, I’m not the last one. I’m the 4th. KOKO TV: Maybe it’s because you are the only boy then. Samuel Suh: Probably, maybe because of so. But the more I grew, I felt like wasn’t a very good thing that they were doing to me because I also had to face my own responsibilities, and there were things that I couldn’t really do, at some point, because they were doing it for me back then. But it was it was a great time, it was a great time. I lost my mom when I was 16, it really was a very painful period on my side and our family because she was more of the one that kept us grounded, like the advice she’d give us. I remember sometimes as a kid, I’ll be a bit naughty, and be like, I didn’t want to eat because I’m angry, and then my mom will bring food next to me and the way she’ll be eating, yo, I would just be hungry and be like,hey, I need to eat now. It really was a beautiful time growing up. Study wise, I studied in the primary school in Douala, Cameroon and then from there, I moved to Bamenda where I got my O’levels, that is in Cameroon. Then I came back to Douala where I got my Advanced level and then I went to University still in Douala. KOKO TV: So, back to your music, are there plans of diversifying or you just want to limit yourself to reggae? Samuel Suh: I don’t really feel like it’s just reggae and reggae for me but reggae is a music that I’ve really loved. I just want to make sure that the music I do now it should be for the glory of the Most High. So it’s not gonna be limited to reggae only, it’s going to be also hip hop, it’s gonna be soul, it’s gonna be R&B. All that music, people call it maybe music for the world, but I don’t really feel the world has got any music. If I had to do reggae, that has to do about God or hip hop, that has to be about God, it has to have the same feel too. KOKO TV: As a gospel singer now, what do you think about collaborating with a hip hop singer that, that does the kind of music that you used to do? Samuel Suh: I just feel like we all have our own journey. For a hip hop artist actually wanting to do a song that is gospel in a hip hop way, I don’t feel like I should be the one to tell them I’m not gonna do that song with you. Maybe I want to do gospel now, maybe they want to do it in a year or two years, so I should be someone that can say, you know what, let’s just do music for God. I’m open to collaboration because someone that does a gospel song or about love, or just about anything, I don’t want to limit them to say, okay, we can’t do this music. I just feel like, it’s all about growth, maybe the next day, they actually gonna be doing the same kind of music I’m doing so I don’t really want to limit myself in that way. If it’s gospel music, then I’m open to do it no matter what genre. KOKO TV: In Nigeria, there are some gospel artists that have collaborated with hip hop artists and people criticise them, even even when they do some dance steps like Gbese. Do you know Gbese? Samuel Suh: (laughs) yeah yeah, I know it, from Burna Boy. KOKO TV: So, is it the same in South Africa? Samuel Suh: I don’t really think is the same way in South Africa. In South Africa, there are some gospel artists that do house music. I really feel like us as Christians, we need to we need to encourage many people in such a way that no matter what music you’re doing, do music for God. You know, it might be like we all have different parts or our own different journey, but I feel like if they are doing Gbese for God, I’m in accord with that. One of my ultimate goal is that I’d like to see gospel music being played everywhere. It shouldn’t be like gospel music should be limited only in a Christian congregation.
I’d like to go to a wedding or an event that is non Christian and hear gospel songs. I feel like that is where we have to take the music to because there’s no way you’re actually telling people much about God because they’re Christians already. So I feel like the people that really need to know about gospel music should be people outside, you know. We need to see gospel music on MTV being played after let’s say secular song. That’s how my own field is and the kind of music I personally make, have to like it because I feel like the gospel music has to be played everywhere. I remember when in my church someone was doing for the offering, and somebody wanted to sing Jerusalema. Read also: Exclusive: Style Is An Identity, It Sets You Apart From The Rest – Ultimate Love Stylist, Rhoda Ebun
They be like no, no, it hasn’t come to that. So, I just kind of feel like sometimes when the music, is maybe, let’s say a world song, I don’t think it’s right maybe to sing it at church because people will have a different feel. But there’s some people that will probably think about having a better relationship with God just from listening to that song somewhere else. So I feel like maybe if you’re singing it in a church congregation might not be too appropriate because you’re gonna have a lot feeling like what is happening. But I feel like we shouldn’t limit gospel songs. Somebody is gonna be like, hey, I haven’t gone to church in a while now and probably listening to that song in a club and they can have a feel like hey, let me get a better relationship with my Creator or think of heaven maybe.