Blessing Offor on “Brighter Days” and Why His Music is the “Genre of Humanity”

Blessing Offor has a life story that makes for interesting songs. From his roots in Nigeria to growing up in suburban Connecticut, Offor has established himself in the world of Christian music with hits like “Brighter Days” and his collaboration with TobyMac on “The Goodness.”

Videos by American Songwriter

Offor went completely blind at the age of 10 due to an accident, which has allowed his connection with music to only grow stronger. In this Q&A with American Songwriter, Offor opens up about the meaning of his name, the meaning of “Brighter Days” and why he calls his music the “genre of humanity.”

American Songwriter (AS): How did music impact you during childhood?

Blessing Offor (BO): My first introduction to the piano came from my third-grade girlfriend at the time. I was super jealous that she was playing piano and I was like, “I want to play piano. If she can play piano, I can play piano.” And I did. She introduced me to her music teacher. I started out learning classical. And I remember she was teaching me [Beethoven’s] “Fur Elise.” I would sing “Fur Elise,” and you’re not supposed to sing “Fur Elise.” So she says, “I think you might need jazz lessons.” So then I got to jazz.

From third grade onward, there was always this background of music. I was probably the only kid allowed to listen to Eminem in third grade and it was because my uncle who I grew up with said to me, “Hey, I know you love this, so I’m gonna give you the right to listen to anything you want, so long as it does not impact your behavior or your academics.” I always had a relationship with music, loved it. The hues and shadings in colors are limitless.

AS: What’s the story behind your name?

BO: Blessing is a really common name in Nigeria. Very unique here, but very common in most of Africa. As a kid, I really didn’t like my name. I was like, “It’s too different. It’s weird.” For me, you can’t be a blessing and wake up in the morning and hurt people. It’s very contradictory. So I tried to live up to my name, as it were. My parents were like, “We wanted to make sure you knew what we thought of you and that is blessing.” So it’s a high bar to meet on a daily basis. But we try our best.

AS: You made an interesting point earlier about how you see music in shades and colors. How do you see and feel music?

BO: The thing about music is that it has this ability to transcend language and even understanding. You could listen to a K-pop song and have no idea what they’re saying, but something in it speaks to you. You can listen to a song in Spanish or Portuguese and beyond understanding exactly what they’re saying, something about it still emotes to you. I think seeing music as a vehicle, first and foremost, to communicate with other people is what’s the most powerful thing in my mind. Music is a way that I can talk to anybody, anytime, always, whether or not they know my language or not.

AS: Why is it so important to you to be a part of the songwriting process?

BO: In my mind, writing a song is like an intimacy. So whether that is an ‘as’ or a ‘but’ or an ‘and,’ those little words make a huge difference. I want to make sure that the song says what I mean, and means what I say so to speak. I never want to say anything in a song that isn’t what I feel or what I wouldn’t say in real life. So nothing better than being there from the ground floor.

AS: You had a hit on the Christian charts with “Brighter Days.” Talk about the story and the meaning behind that song.

BO: First and foremost, credit to Sam Ellis, he and I wrote that. It was deep in COVID, I think it was like 2020, late ’21. Sam says, “Man, we really had this idea, it’s called ‘Brighter Days.'” I think my initial reaction was, “Okay, it’s getting saccharin already.” And he goes, “This might be a thing that people could really use.” Simple I’ve learned is good. “Brighter Days,” simple. … We really tried to shape it so that when you got to that chorus, it was worth listening to. So in the verses I remember, Samantha, my A&R [representative] said, “Can you give me a first line in the verse that I want whoever’s listening to this first thing in the morning, brushing their teeth, I want them to hear that first line and go ‘Wait, what did he say?'”

I loved that instinct because if your chorus is brighter days, don’t make that too cheesy. So I remember going back to Sam and going, “What if we said something weird like ashes fall from burning trees?” And he goes, “What does that mean?” I was like, “I don’t know, but it sounds arresting.” Your dreams are burning and the ashes from them are falling. It’s just a really interesting picture. One of my heroes Prince wrote some really wild words. I just love saying something random. It could fall flat, but it could be great. 

AS: My Tribe is your debut album. Talk to me about the journey to get to this album and what made now the right time to make it?

BO: The journey to get to this album, there was a point where I all my friends were putting out music left and right and I thought, “I want to put out music that I don’t have to try to take back two minutes from now.” I was like, “I want to do it right, not do it now.” So My Tribe took time and took a lot of life experiences and journeys and living in three different cities for a while and just collecting this community of people from Connecticut to New York to Nashville to LA, to Nigeria, to everywhere in the middle that has just really loved me and supported me through all the “no’s” that you inevitably run into as you’re doing this.

AS: You’d said that your music is the genre of humanity. What do you mean by that?

BO: With all due humility, I think my life experience from literally being an immigrant growing up in all the parts of the country, I’ve grown up experiencing friends and community and the nuances that [are] being in a new country, new culture. I played a song of mine in Kansas called “Tin Roof,” and this woman comes up to me and says, “When I was in Texas with my grandmother, we lived in a double-wide trailer and the roof was tin. And we loved the sound of rain on the tin roof.” It hit me how a kid from Sub-Saharan Africa at the time, was having an experience identical to that of a girl in a double-wide trailer in the plains of Texas. That is humanity to me. The thing that is true all across the board must be true. If it’s true from Africa to Texas, it must be true.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

8 Legendary Songwriters of the 1980s