Canadian based Gospel duo and Covenant Award (GMA Canada) nominees, Folarin & Keziah, have just released their debut album 'Relentless'. We spoke to the couple to hear how their music was birthed and what message they hope people will take from it.
For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how you got involved in making music?
We are Folarin & Keziah. We are Nigerian-Canadians based out of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. We both grew up in the church and started singing at a very early age. Our music ministry started in Nigeria but has taken us through England and now in Canada. We write and produce our own music. Folarin started writing and recording music in 2009 through his local church in Nigeria. In, 2013 we started collaborating on writing songs mostly for our personal devotion and inclusion in praise and worship sets when we moved to Canada. This evolved into more many songs that we have since recorded and included some in our debut album ‘Relentless’. 2019 was a great year for us with the release of 4 singles and an album. Our worship song “You Are My God” was nominated for the GMA Canada Covenant Awards 2020 ‘Gospel song of The Year’. We’ve been married for 8 years and blessed we a son, Zeal. We both work fulltime, and Folarin is completing his PhD studies in Health Sciences.
Tell us about your new album 'Relentless' and what the inspiration behind it was?
Our debut album ‘Relentless’ was released on December 6, 2019 after working at it for more than 4 years. We wrote, arranged and produced all the songs on the album with help from some of the most sought after sound engineers and producers in Canada; Amy King-White (Grants Avenue Studio, Hamilton), Tomide Oyebola and Samuel Williams (SamSound Productions, Toronto). The album has 14 tracks and features high energy praise and dance tunes, soulful worship ballads, choir pieces and a touch of soft rock. The effort was released under our independent label, God Colors Media Inc.
‘Relentless’ was birthed on a Stroke unit where Folarin works on weekends after reflection on the unchanging nature of God’s love. Human love falls way short of the God Kind of love. People change every day and modern-day love is very transactional. It’s so good and comforting to know that God’s love is the standard. It’s forgiving, unconditional, eternal and most of all freely available to everyone. The title track is our response to God’s love.
Which is your favorite track on the album and why?
We love all the songs and will like to choose 2 as our favorites. ‘Jesus Is Alive’ is electric and has a way of changing the atmosphere anytime its performed. The title track ‘Relentless’ does something to our heart and lifts our soul anytime it’s played. They are the two songs we had the most fun making but also some of the hardest to write.
What message would you like people to take from your music?
We just want people to know that there is a God called Jesus who loves them beyond their imagination. It’s easy to be casual about Jesus but He is so much more than a Jewish King. He’s the savior of the world and has all power in His hand. We are only able to tell time in reference to Him and that’s we say 2019 AD (After the Death of Christ). As majestic and sovereign as He is, Jesus loves us unconditionally and would not relent no matter what we do or don’t do. Our album is a all to respond to the ‘Relentless’ of Jesus.
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
We are all about making music that has broad appeal and would describe our sound as a fusion of contemporary gospel and Christian music. We are intentional about creating a sound that transcends colors, cultures and creeds were the listener is drawn in by the power of the message and the way it is uniquely delivered.
Our influences are varied and wide and includes gospel artists like Richard Smallwood, John P. Kee, Fred Hammond, Israel Houghton, Cece Winans, Yolanda Adams, Karen Clark Sheard and Kirk Franklin. Recently, we’ve been inspired by artists like Travis Green, William McDowell, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Steffany Gretzinger, Maranda Curtis, Bethel Worship & Jesus Culture who are pioneering a new move of worship. We also admire artists like Sinach and Ntokozo Mbambo who are taking the sounds of Africa to the world stage.
If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?
We would definitely love to work with Israel Houghton. He is such an excellent writer and skilled with the gift of writing music that is appeals to everyone. We are about writing and making music with broad appeal. Whether it’s the Black, White or Asian church, Israel’s music is well renown. It would be a great honor to work with him.
How would you define success in your career as artists?
Success for us means many things. We would love to have or sung added to worship sets worldwide. We would also love to have our songs heard all over the world. We look forward to releasing more songs to speak to the truth about God who God is. Most of all, we will feel fulfilled if our music leads people to make the decision to respond to God’s love by making Jesus their Lord and Savior.
What is your favorite album of all time?
That’s quite a hard question but I think I will settle for Fred Hammond’s “Purpose by Design”. I regard Fred Hammond as the artists who bridged some of the great divides between “white” and “black” music with the ‘In The House series’. Purpose by design on a bigger level pushed the barriers of hip hop and gospel and adopted secular stylistic elements from artists like En Vogue to Sam Cooke. The album was a complete piece of work from the ballads, chorals to monster and funk filled praise and worship tracks.
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?
We grew up in church and our musical foundations go way back to the hymns, acapellas and gospel choruses. So, we’ll have to go with one of our favorites ‘Great is thy faithfulness’. That song is one of the few that fits any occasion and has always been close to us through high and low, good and bad times and every season in between.
What does the next year hold for you?
We are excited at the opportunity to take our new music on the road. We will be going on tour in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area of Canada to do live music. We are also planning 2 events next year. The first is a music festival to celebrate some of the new and veteran Christian and Gospel music sound coming out of Canada. We also have a heart for empowering singers and musicians and look forward to doing music workshops to talk about the creative process of producing, producing and publishing music to local musicians and bands in our area.