When we switch on the radio, stream a playlist or catch ourselves singing along to tunes in the supermarket, it’s easy to forget the stories and experiences of the artists that have shaped the songs we hear.
The nature of those experiences and how hard-won they have been varies, but for Nigerian-born American singer-songwriter Blessing Offor you get the sense that every lyric has come at a price.
Immigrating to the United States with his uncle when Blessing was six years old, he initially made the move to get treatment for glaucoma, however, he never received sight back in his eye and later suffered an injury that left his vision impaired in the other eye.
Twenty-four years later, Blessing still hasn’t been back to see his family, but has spent time away from them cultivating an incredible music career that includes credits with Chris Tomlin, Corey Crowder and Tyler Hubbard (Florida Georgia Line), among others.
Releasing his debut seven-track EP Brighter Days earlier this year, the title track is a timely one for a world in turmoil.
Blessing told Hope 103.2, “I hope for anybody that’s heard the song that there is a joy that is deep and true and abiding, but also that it’s tempered with the reality that the world is hard”.
“Joy doesn’t mean anything unless you can sit it next to all the difficulties,” he said.
“We’ve all had those moments where it’s hard to breath, where everything you’ve planned for is not working but I love being able to say to somebody, ‘However low it is, here’s a picture of how it can better’.”
“Joy doesn’t mean anything unless you can sit it next to all the difficulties,” – singer-songwriter Blessing Offor
One of the greatest challenges Blessing has had to overcome was choosing to pursue music in spite of his disability, and also keeping the faith when God didn’t answer his prayers to heal his eyesight in the way he expected.
“When I was a kid [music] was nourishment for me through a really hard time,” Blessing said.
“Me and music really became close.”
“As a [young teenager] grappling with all of these things, it wasn’t easy.
“Telling a story in hindsight always feels more glamourous, but in the moment I was like, ‘God, why would you not want me to have amazing vision?’.
“But the truth is, we don’t know the mind of God at any given moment about any given situation.
“And if we really do believe that He is in control and not us, then all of our prayers – much like Christ in the Garden [of Gethsemane] – are ‘nevertheless not my will but Yours’.
“So my prayer eventually [went from] ‘Why don’t you want to fix this?’ to ‘I trust You’.”
Blessing Offor’s EP Brighter Days is out now.