By Henry Akubuiro

27-year-old Osato Idehen Mary, popularly known as Nina Shezz, is a Nigerian gospel musician with a mellifluous voice and soul stirring sonics that keep every listener enchanted with her vibes. She stood tall as the recipient of the Kingdom Achievers Rising Star 2023 award recipient — it was no surprise with her fan base of over 30,000 followers and more,  proven through her verified Instagram account, where fans are constantly engaged with her sounds. She has been a dominant force in the industry be it in TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Playlist albums, live performances, and via distribution.

Born in Lagos Island, Nigeria, to Mrs Idehen Fidelia  and  Mr Idehen Osawaru Godfrey,  a Christian family, where she was nurtured in the gospel. At a tender age, Osato Idehen’s talent was discovered, and she joined the choir of her church. From a tender age, she started practicing by singing songs of others. As a teenager, she took up a backup singer role in a studio owned by the choir master of her church.

Along the line, Nina was exposed to numerous sounds and aided the back up of choruses. It was at this point she started understanding the notes of music, and she felt the need to explore. In a bid to establish her unique sound, she engaged in a conversation with her Parisian friend called Iheka who proposed the Nina Shezz moniker as she mirrored Sinach, a prominent Nigerian gospel artiste.

To him, she was pretty and humble, and the name suited her personality just as Sinach. Rather than Sinach, the Parisian l proposed the name Nina and added “Shezz” to establish a pseudonym distinct from the norm. It  has been a musical journey of thirteen years since then.

Nina Shezz started her professional music career when she was 18 with a divine touch to it.  In a revelation, God had told her to enter a door and whatever she saw would be her calling: music was the answer to the puzzle. She didn’t want to pretend she had what it takes to be a star musician after that encounter. But, waking up from that dream, she was determined to take the bull by the horns, for God had given her the auction to function in the musical space, and she wanted a name outside of her choir assignment in the church. She also desired more than being a backup singer, though she racked up three years of musical experience. She never looked back since the decision of starting to create her own sounds in 2011. Thirteen years on, she has made the undertaking a pleasurable forte.

Recognised by Ubong King, Nina Shezz was given an opportunity to commission songs to suit his ThinkNation XX Youth conference, which featured over 12,000 attendees, with people discussing the female artiste who produced gospel music with hip hop percussions. That was quite unusual in the Nigerian musical industry, given to the conservatism of the society in religious matters, cautious of creating a wrong impression and causing a besmirch on her reputation.

But Nina Shezz was relentless in her quest for recognition and break patterns to advance the chore of gospel music. She created a unique sound that appealed to most people.  Needless to say, she added more flavours to her songs that Won her widespread recognition.

The journey to stardom, however, wasn’t a breeze, as she suffered setbacks from promoters, record labels retaining rights of songs and other issues that forced her into becoming an independent artiste. In this case, Nina Shezz progressed to being a guest musician in a church called Treasure Field to cut her teeth. But if that  could be considered a fluke, her spell as a backup singer to Frank Edward for three years made her gain the right exposure and experience. In 2021, Shezz had two songs produced by Frank Edwards – “Eledumare” and “Unconditional Love”. These songs penetrated the Nigerian gospel scenes not because she worked with a big name, but rather her songs were constantly played and requested for on radio stations. 

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This brought about the huge fanbase she enjoys today, in addition to her interviews, live performances and the appreciation of her vibes with appealing l rhythms. Shezz was promoted to host a TikTok challenge, and this wowed different audiences  to engage with her creativity, while competing to win. They  gradually fell in love with her sonics.

Not every singer has Paul McCartney and Prince’s commonalities by playing multi instrumentals. Her voice is her sole instrument, and she uses it to the fullest. Depending on her progress, she can sing on major or minor keys and possibly throw interludes to connect broken chords. She is flexible, too, on the delivery. She  rarely repeats the same rhythm, showing consistency in exploring capacity to deliver. To Nina Shezz, validation has come in the form of the Metropolitan Award for Best Female Soloist in 2014 many years before her craft became profoundly a popular demand.

In 2023, as at the December edition of The Kingdom Achievers Award, awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements in the gospel music industry by individuals who had demonstrated excellence, innovation and dedication to their craft, she was garlanded. The Rising Star Artiste of the Year award she got spoke volumes of her creativity. Though termed Rising Star, it featured outstanding artiste of the year.

It was just one out of the three categories she was nominated that year, others being Afrogospel Artiste, and Best Collaborative Song of the Year of King Achievers Award. These are affirmations that she has come of age in the gospel music genre in Nigeria. Thirteen years as a musician, Shezz is at the peak of her career. Some of her songs include “Without You”, “Eledumare”, “Call”, “Be Anxious for Nothing”, “Wonderfully Made”, “Ayo”, “Unconditional Love”,  “Doh Doh Doh”, “Turn by Turn”,  “The Word” and  “Majo”. The most recent is “Cover Me”.

Most of her songs are in the public domain, and they are easy to access on the web with a click of the button. The streaming platforms include Apple Music, Deezer, Boomplay, Amazon Music and Spotify. At the moment, she is much on her own without attachment to recording labels.

Her fanbase is spread across the globe, especially in the land of her birth, Nigeria; the entertainment capital of the world, USA; Canada, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa and the UK. Her numbers are also remarkable with over 970, 000 streams on Spotify alone. Shezz’s outstanding contributions to the gospel scene can best be described as very impactful, especially among the youths, where she was specially invited by Pastor Leke Adeboye, son of General Overseer of Redeem Church, Pastor E.A. Adeboye, in 2021. With redemptive sonics and growing appeal among music lovers with arresting lyrics, she has earned a verification on Spotify and Instagram. Currently, she has released “Cover Me”, a collaboration with Echow Clay. This has been buzzing across the radio.

The illuminating nature of her work is her flexibility in borrowing  genres and integrating lyrics with biblical and religious verses. Like a poet, she has a gift of words. Her flow on instrumentals are unprecedented. Her  songs feature distinct sounds but all are gospel music. This presents a fluid Nina as a goddess.

Also, a song writer, she writes her songs herself and completes them with co-writers. In the collaborative efforts, she can generate a hook while a colleague may come up with a chorus or a melody line as the kindred spirits ride on a bond. Alongside Frank Edwards, she has performed in Zambia and Cameroon and her sound has continuously been appreciated.

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