Blessing Offor speaks to relatable experiences of struggle, triumph, life, and love from a distinctive perspective as a Nigerian-born, Connecticut-raised, and Nashville-based singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. Exhibiting virtuosic piano ability, honest songwriting, and a showstopping voice, his musical fluency and creative foresight are unmatched only made more inspiring by his journey.
With five older siblings, Blessing left Nigeria at just six-years-old to live with his uncle in Connecticut. Glaucoma left him blind in one eye, and mom and dad felt he might find better medical care in the United States. He lost sight in the other eye at ten-years-old due to a water gun accident. Nevertheless, Blessing dove into music. He devoured classics by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Commodores, and Barry White. He was even allowed to listen to Eminem under one condition – “If I said any of the words, my uncle would take it away,” he laughs.
From a young age, Blessing had the natural ability to learn music by ear, developing incredible skill while quickly building his musical index.
“Seeing things differently—no pun intended—helps me elucidate concepts in ways people aren’t used to,” he notes. “Everybody has a different filter and a place they come from. My place was, ‘Oh man, my vision is terrible.’ It was frustrating early on, but it trained my ear.”
Now, this international upbringing, unbelievable journey, quiet grind, and confluence of styles define his 2023 debut full-length album, My Tribe, that brings together soul, pop, R&B, and African styles in service of a universal sound—which he fittingly dubs “the genre of humanity.”
“All of the elements on this record come together to make one whole human,” he observes. “We all have a little bit of spirituality, a little bit of pain, and a little bit of joy. These lyrics are my words from my life. Musically, there’s a lot of who I am! Last but not least, I wasn’t afraid to be honest. There are some heartbreak songs, and there are some more ambiguous songs. This is music for the world. This is music for every universal feeling we have regardless of who we are. Ultimately, I tried to make a life record.”
Writing and recording in Nashville, Blessing assembled the album throughout 2022, imparting personal lyrics upon a soundscape rooted in Motown spirit and universal pop with an Afro-inspired undercurrent. He not only wrote on 14 tracks, but he also played piano and guitar throughout. Blessing teamed up with an array of collaborators on My Tribe, including three-time GRAMMY® Award winner Max Stark [Tori Kelly], Jordan Sapp [Jason Derulo], Cleve Wilson [Thomas Rhett], Hank Bentley, Todd Clark, Josh Ronen and more.
With such a dynamic background, he didn’t have to look far for inspiration. “My Tribe is the sheer reality of my personal experience,” he elaborates. “I wanted to make a record that was true and honest to me being born in Nigeria, growing up in Connecticut, attending Belmont University, living in Los Angeles for a bit, and all of the things that represent my life.”
To honor his roots, the album is thread together with three unique recordings including a phone call with his uncle who translates an old Nigerian tune “Akwa Uwa.”
“When I came to the States, there were a lot of memories from home,” he says. “Naturally, you keep some of them, and others fall by the wayside.Since the album was so personal, I wanted to speak to my family right at the beginning. I sang ‘Akwa Uwa’, and my uncle got on the phone with me to translate it. ‘Akwa Uwa’ means ‘Tears for the World’. I sprinkled the call through the album so there’s no doubt of who I am, where I come from, and who I do all of this for.”
He has never forgotten where he came from, and it’s part of why the music feels so rich.
The title track “My Tribe” seesaws on an axis between an energetic beat, funky R&B bass line, boisterous horns, buoyant piano, and soulful traffic-stopping vocals. Evocative of his approach, it even features the sound of his natural hand drumming on the keyboard. The refrain serves up an essential reminder, “When we come together, everything is alright.”
“When I wrote it, I knew it was special,” he smiles. “My particular tribe in Nigeria is Igbo. So, the Igbo kid in me is like, ‘This is my tribe.’ In the modern-day use of the word ‘tribe’, it’s your chosen family—your people. I wanted this record to be about exactly that.”
Then, there’s the emotionally charged “Your Love.” His high register rings out over the strains of an old upright piano before handclaps underscore the chantable chorus. “You should hopefully be able to apply my songs to wherever you are in your life,” he notes. “So, you could dedicate ‘Your Love’ to whoever is there for you when you’re lost. I know who it is for me.”
“Won’t Be Long Now” highlights the grit in his voice against a backdrop of stark piano and sparse finger-snaps. It carefully builds towards an affirmation, “Change is gonna come. Just keep holding on.” “It’s a promise that things will get better if you can hang on,” he says. “At some point, we can all relate.”
Bluesy guitar wraps around a simmering beat and a breezy harmony on “Rollin’.” The laidback groove gives way to another irresistible hook, “You’re the rock, when I’ve been rollin’.” “I love the wordplay,” he grins. “It’s meant to be a singalong for three minutes.”
“Believe” balances his nuanced delivery with a subdued groove as he urges, “Believe, believe, believe in your love.”
In many ways, the opener “Brighter Days” sums up Blessing’s central message. Delicate piano uplifts the optimistic chant as he promises, “I know there’s gonna be some brighter days. I swear that love will find you in your pain.” A testament to its widespread appeal, “Brighter Days” gave Blessing his first Top 5 hit, and has since been used during key moments in Grey’s Anatomy, The Equalizer, and other major TV productions. “The chorus is very bright and positive, but you go through the darkness to get there,” he notes. “You’ve essentially worked for that moment—it isn’t just given to you.”
“I’m just a guy who’s coming into his own and feeling the weight of it all,” he leaves off. “This record says it’s okay to feel complicated. Life isn’t cut-and-dry or paint-by-numbers. This album doesn’t just take you from the beginning to the end, but it also takes you through everything in the middle. When you listen to it, I hope it enables you to understand yourself more.”