By Eric Elezuo
She is sure a wonderful person to talk to. Her delivery speaks volumes of her anticipated performance. Her brand of gospel music mirrors her eloquent, cheery and purpose-filled personality. She is Gloria Karebi Tombri, better known as Gloria KarTee, and she has undying passion to reach out to as many souls as she can, bringing to them the Jesus brand. The Bayelsa-born developing and smooth talking artist shared with TheBoss her dreams and visions for the future. Excerpts:
Could you please tell us a little bit of your background?
I am from Adegbabiri Sagbama local government, Bayelsa state. I was born and brought up in Lagos state. Yes, I grew up in New Site. Growing up was quite funny, weird. I grew with guys; I’m from a family of ten, two parents, eight children. And I have five older brothers, so I could do all the things guys do.
So, can we comfortably say you were a tomboy?
I was a tomboy, yes. Well, they say I was a tomboy but I don’t agree (Laughter). I finished my secondary school in 2012 and then I moved to Bayelsa State. Actually my dad relocated.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a musician.
So, when you call yourself a musician, what exactly do you mean?
A musician is someone who plays an instrument and sings. I play drums and currently, I’m learning how to play the lead guitar. Plus, I sing.
Ok, so you are a brand?
I am a brand, yes.
What kind of songs do you sing?
I sing Rock and Soul gospel. It is that kind of calm music that will make you, kind of want to shed tears.
What in your songs do you think evokes this emotion?
The thing is, music is communication and it also flows with the emotions. God is an emotional God and He gave us emotions so that we can worship Him effectively, either when we are emotionally high or low. And so, soul music puts you in a mood or an atmosphere, where you get some level of intimacy with God, some solace. You begin to reminisce on God’s faithfulness and kindness, irrespective of your unfaithfulness. He’s been so faithful and merciful and His grace has been so amazing. So, you just want to cry at how He can love a person like me and it makes you just want to fall to your knees involuntarily and begin to reverence Him.
What inspired you to choose this line of communication, so to speak?
It’s my strength in music. When you find your strength, you dwell there. It’s my strength, it’s my grace, my place of anointing. I can only flourish and thrive in my place of anointing, my place of grace.
So when did you discover that this was your place of anointing?
It was this year, actually.
Meaning you started professional music this year?
No, last year. Just about a year plus now.
What were you into before the music business?
My dream was to become a footballer. I play football very well, so I wanted to become a professional footballer but I wasn’t encouraged. I was spoken out of it by my immediate family. The reason is because I’m a girl and they thought ‘how can a girl be playing football? You’re not a guy”. It quenched that fire but I have forgiven them. So, over the years, I began to find myself a new calling. I’ve been singing from childhood but I didn’t want to make a career out of it then. I love sports, so that was where my focus was but eventually, as I grew up and I went through school, I began to find a calling in music. And so, last year, I decided to take it professional.
It has been a very short period no doubt, but what have you been able to achieve for yourself in this profession?
The most important thing is I have been able to preach Jesus, evangelise and win souls with my music. Evangelism is not just the stage, it’s something that you do daily, with your life and everything about you. So, musically, I have been able to impact lives; I’ve seen some people who want to come to Jesus because of my music. So I’ve been able to impact, influence and to an extent, acquire a level of fame.
So, where has your music taken you to so far and what audience have you played for?
I’ve played at weddings, churches. I don’t believe that gospel music is limited to the church because God did not send us to the church, He sent us to the world. And for us to go into the world, we must take the gospel out of the church. And so, I am open to any event whatsoever as long as it will glorify the name of God. The people who need to hear about Jesus are not really in the church. We can find them outside; on the streets, in the club, wherever…but I don’t sing in clubs (laughter). Maybe sometime in the future, God will lead me there.
So, where do you see the Gloria KarTee brand in the next five years?
Oh my God, I see myself all over the world. A global figure, doing things with the likes of Kim Burrell, Tasha Cobbs…those are my role models. I see myself really all over, doing great exploits for God.
Those role models you mentioned are actually foreign names, do you have local inspiration?
I don’t really have. I used to listen to Lara George but I would say I found fulfilment listening to the people I mentioned because they do my kind of music, they have kind of vocal texture. I listen to Nigerian singers but I don’t get what I need professionally and technically, but their songs bless me.
So, what turns you off as a person, minister, and singer?
I hate pretence. I love it when someone is very sincere, honest and open-minded, because I believe that communication is key to everything. Because for everything we do in life, relationships matter and for a healthy relationship, communication is essential so when there is lack of communication, there would be failure in accomplishment or limitation in accomplishment. I need people to be really open-minded, sincere, honest and I hate hypocrisy. It really turns me off.
Are they not really intricate parts of life… pretence, hypocrisy and the rest of them
Well, I believe that for us as, especially Christians, those things shouldn’t be found in us because we market the Jesus brand. People are supposed to see us and see Jesus; they shouldn’t see us and ask themselves if we are really Christians. In fact, people today don’t want to be Christians because of some Christians. They think “if this is what Christianity is about, then I should be who I am”. God puts us in certain territories to bring impact and influence to that territory, but when we fail, we have failed the people in that area and our purpose.
Are you married?
Not yet, but very soon
What qualities are you looking for in a man?
Truthfully, there is no one yet but there is a vision of that person and I will make it very simple. Every other thing can be found in these two words: suitability and compatibility. We have to be suitable in terms of personality, likes and dislikes, our values and beliefs. You know, belief is one thing that enhances communication. If our beliefs differ, then we cannot have an effective communication.
What kind of food would make you smile widely?
Ghana or Nigerian?
Have you tasted Ghanaian jollof?
No, I haven’t.
Would you wish to taste it so you can make a fair comparison?
Yes, I wish to.
Ok, sports and recreation? How do you recreate?
I play football, basketball and so on. I still play football and it brings back the old dreams.
I can imagine you performing on stage, you probably show-off some football skills.
(Laughter) Not exactly.
With your love for football, do you plan to own a football club sometime in future?
Not exactly. I had a vision last year to find a body or an establishment, more like an NGO, where the purpose is to find young minds who are influenced by things that are not Christ-like, whose lives and destinies are being perverted by the devil. This organisation will be focused on the young ones who are frustrated, those who don’t know how to come out in life, the ones who have something but don’t know how to harness it.
So, more like a foundation?
Yes, a foundation. It will be focused on talent; using what you have to get to where you need to be – be it sports, entertainment and so on. People think Christianity is boring, so let’s show them there’s more to Christianity than they see.
What would be your advice to upcoming youths?
I would say, it is very imperative for every individual to know what they want and what they stand for because until you know what you stand for, everything you see will just look like it. Also, know your purpose; one of the relevance of knowing our purpose is that, it simplifies and focuses our lives. You know the activities you should engage yourself in and prioritise them. You can only know your purpose when you look within and look up to God, because those are the two things that matter. Have a relationship with God; God is more concerned about our relationship before our service, because your service can only make sense when you have a relationship with Him. The bottom line is, have a relationship with God, find your purpose and work daily towards it.
Do you think, so far, this profession has given you the fame and wealth you deserve and look forward to?
Well, it has not given me the wealth I desire, but it is working something out. Of course businesses have stages, the forming stage, which I would say I am in, because I need to gain grounds, have a stand. And then, we have the recreational stage, which is where you don’t need to stress yourself. I’ve gained fame to an extent, like I said, and I believe I would be everywhere in no time. I just believe God for something mind-blowing and as we walk in course with God, we’ll see tremendous results. One of the things that matters, is sacrifice, service; if you can serve and put in the necessary sacrifices, then definitely we will reap the fruits of our labour.
Thank you, Gloria.
Thank you for having me.