The Punch


The first runner-up of Nigerian Idol Season Six, Francis atela, talks to TOFARATI IGE about what he intends to do after the show and other issues


hat was the thought that crossed your mind when Kingdom was declared the winner instead of

I have always had an open mind. I went into the show with the primary objective of winning because we all have to pay bills. When I got into the show, I made friends and those friends became like family. After spending three months with all the contestant­s, it changed me in a way because we all have similar stories and this made me disabuse my mind from the ‘it’s either I win or nothing’ mentality. Sure, I wanted to win but eventually, when I got closer to everybody, I thought to myself that everybody deserved to win. When we got to the ‘top four,’ it clicked to me that whoever won deserved it. On the day of the grand finale, just before I went on stage, I was tensed and I prayed to God that I wanted this (to win) badly but He should give me the grace to accept His will for me. When I went on stage and Kingdom was called (as the winner), I was excited and I felt a weight get off my shoulders. I felt instant happiness and gratitude at how far I came. My heart was filled with pure happiness.

Shortly after the grand finale, the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor made a post on Facebook, praising your reaction after Kingdom was declared winner. He also stated that the state was ready to work with you. Has anyone reached out to you from Benue State government?

Yes, they reached out to me and it was amazing. It was a humbling experience. It made me feel like I was doing the right thing and I’m on the right track, with the right people. All I ever wanted was the grace to be able to push my music to the best lengths possible. Now, I’m gaining recognitio­n from the state government and it’s a big a deal, which I don’t take for granted.

You have a farm where you raise livestock. Now that you have a bigger platform, what are

your plans for the farm?

My farm is in Jos, Plateau State. I believe that farming is the future and on my livestock farm, I have not gone far yet because I still have some obligation­s to fulfil. I plan to renovate the farm and get more livestock.

You had released some songs before the show. What are your plans going forward?

I have already released my first single after the show and it’s titled, ‘Jaja.’ I released it on Monday, a day after the show ended. Before the show ended, I had recorded some songs because I’m an amateur producer. But, I didn’t produce this particular song. The beat was sent to me and I placed my vocals on it. I was just waiting for the right time to put it out.

Which artiste would you love to collaborat­e with?

There are a lot of artistes I would love to work with, including Fireboy DML and Ayra Starr. From Nigerian Idol, I would like to work with Akunna, Beyonce and Emmanuel. They are amazing singers and I believe we can do wonders together on a song.

Wouldn’t you like to work with Kingdom?

Kingdom is cool. However, the people I mentioned are those I believe we have similar vocals. Kingdom is amazing and I believe he would do better on a song with a female singer, than with me.

Who did you consider your toughest competitio­n on the show?

Apart from myself, I did not see any competitio­n. This is not to be misconstru­ed that I didn’t see them as competitio­n, but I was not in a competitio­n with any of them. After becoming friends with them, it was no longer a do-or-die affair.

How would you describe your style of music?

My style can be described as soul music but with a touch of modernity. I try to bring soul into whatever I sing because I have discovered that my strongest point of singing is being able to communicat­e with people’s strength.

Some reality show winners end up not being commercial­ly successful. How do you intend to make your style of music have a mass appeal?

The most important thing is the audience. One has to understand one’s audience and what they want. With that being said, I discovered on the show that people loved me for my voice. They loved me for the way I sang and that is commercial; that is a market. Before the show, I had 11,000 followers (on Instagram) but now, I have over 40,000 followers. Those new people followed me for a reason. It will be a great disrespect to them if I don’t give them what they want. Whenever I sing, I will deliberate­ly appeal to those people. If 40,000 people could follow me because they felt I sounded cool and they love my style of soul music, then what else should I do than to sing specifical­ly for those 40,000 people and others like them?

During your last performanc­e with Chike at the grand finale, some people felt he overwhelme­d you on the stage. Do you agree?

I believe we both went on stage and we ‘vibed’ together. That’s what’s important. I am not in a competitio­n with Chike. He is my friend and we just went on stage to have a good performanc­e. That’s what is important to me.

What do you have to say to the people who voted for you and believe in you?

All I want to say is, ‘Thank you. You all believed in a total stranger. You heard my voice and you liked it. You believed in me and chose to spend your money, your time and energy voting for me, and putting your faith in me. God bless you. You raised an army for me and when you need help, God will raise am army for you’. That’s all I can say.

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