The arts have played a major part in society from time immemorial. From the days of the Pyramids in Egypt to the biblical days of David playing the harp for Saul. Music travelled to the ancient people of Africa like the Benin people before European contact. The early days of Music like that of Tupac Shakur, Fela, etc to even poets like Maya Angelou and writers like Shakespeare – Art has always done great things! Today’s Muse is Jos Born and Bred Musician, Neken Chuwang whose music has done a lot to inspire many young people and families. I would go on and on about Neken but I’ll leave you to read the story as narrated by he himself.
Hello Neken, Please tell us about yourself.
I am Neken Agape Chuwang, a singer, songwriter, sociologist, a part-time fashion designer, sometimes you find me on the farm too & a lover of Jollof rice. I’m the first of 5 children born to the family of Rev & Mrs Gyang Moses Chuwang. I love making new friends and being productive.
The man with the grateful guitar. Tell us how Neken started music – what made you venture into it?
Hahahahaha, Well GRATEFUL goes beyond the guitar for me, it’s a state of being.
Well the story starts from birth, My mom is also an artist with 2 albums to her name, & dad is a lover of music who plays the guitar and writes too. So growing up they made available musical videos for kids available for us videos like Barney & friends, Psalty, And lots more which created a good foundation for my musical journey. Now I also luckily got the cliche experience (joining the choir at the age of about 6 which also helped in developing my musical knowledge & understanding).
Mommy taught me songs and dad taught me how to play my first chords on the guitar. Secondary school (Boys’ Secondary School Gindiri, Mangu, Plateau State, Nigeria) gave me opportunities to develop my stage confidence and music generally through programs like FESTAC(Festival Of Art & Culture) where I participated in solo singing competitions & choir singing too.
By the time I graduated secondary school I had written a couple of songs & one year later (2014) I kicked off my musical career with a single and ever since then God has been faithful and I’ve experienced growth with a debut album titled GRATEFUL launched last year.
About my inspiration and drive, first I will say I’ve had a natural drive for music and it has come quite effortlessly for me because from childhood it was easy for me to discern the different parts of a song. But my 3 major inspiration for what I do are God, Family/Friends, and Society. My music is inspired by these three sources and I ventured into music to glorify God and Edify humanity by putting out contents that positively informs and impacts my listeners.
As a Nigerian youth in these specific times our country finds itself in, what do you think are your responsibilities towards Nigeria?
Well, I see myself as a person who has the responsibility of consciously enlightening and informing Nigerians about the good and bad happenings in Nigeria through my music. It is a medium I personally think has been underutilised. Music is a universal language and as such, it is able to cut across different races, age groups, religions and other differences in society. I see it as the responsibility of well-meaning artists to encourage the good things happening and criticise the bad using their art to contribute to developing a responsible and progressive society. Some songs I have personally written to address societal happenings include: My vote my right, Ungrateful Man, Grateful, Never Forget, Remember, Life is beautiful. The mentioned songs are some out of the many written (some are released, others undergoing production)
What do you think are the hindrances to youth involvement and patriotism in Nigeria?
I think the biggest hindrance to youth involvement and patriotism in Nigeria is the “Leaders of tomorrow” mentality. This has been continually hammered into the heads of youths in Nigeria through the words & actions of leaders and other people in positions of power within the country. We Youths need to begin to see ourselves as the present leaders and behave that way from the choices we make (being productive and refusing to indulge in irresponsible activities like drug abuse and other social vices) as well as distinguishing ourselves in the different fields of our interests eg. Politics, music, farming, development, Medicine, etc.
How have you been able to use your craft i.e. music to foster youth and national development?
I’ve been able to contribute in my little way by writing songs that preach God and Godly principles. I feel beyond being thrilled and entertained, my audience should be drawn closer to God and want to be better people after listening to my music
One of your songs recently got my attention the one titled “My Vote my Right? What inspired that song and what is your message for Nigerian youth as regards the coming election?
The inspiration is the state of the nation (particularly the political affairs) where politicians after sweet-talking the electorate or involving in other forms of electoral malpractice occupy offices where they do not have the interest of the electorate at heart and after their tenures expire they remember the electorates and come back for another.
So this is a song for every Mr Politician out there to know that our eyes are open. We’re starting a revolution to put politicians who are only selfish out of business and to enlighten the Nigerian who doesn’t know the worth of his vote & know he’s responsible for whatever becomes of our nation’s future.
The song “Ungrateful man also caught my attention as corruption which is a result of greed and ungratefulness is one of Nigeria’s problems, what inspired that song and what is your message for the usual “I must blow fast” Nigerian youth?
Being ungrateful is actually a universal problem because we all have tendencies to be so carried away with wanting more that we fail to appreciate what we have.
It’s okay to want more, but one should not live a life of comparison with others, ingratitude. As a matter of fact, I have realised that being grateful for what one has opens up opportunities to do more with that little and become even more. So I wrote this song as a constant reminder to myself and anyone who eventually gets to listen that we need to be grateful regardless of how little what we have may look/seem, because it could be worse.
For the usual “I must blow fast” Nigerian Youth, calm down and realise that every good thing takes time and keep believing in what you do even when it looks difficult or impossible.
Tell us about your star track “Never Forget”
I’m using the song never forget to send a message to people around the world. I wrote the song from my heart with the sole purpose of reaching out to those people who are in the most painful and difficult seasons of their lives.
I want the factual statement”never forget, God is in control” to remain an anchor in someone’s life. So that no matter how much the wind blows or how much the adversity seems to intensify, their soul will remain anchored to that simple truth from my song, “God really is in control”.
Any advice for youths out there?
The problem is that we think we have time but what we do not know is that most people get ahead during the time that others waste. We may feel we don’t have the capacity to better the country but very little things we do can definitely enhance it.
Take for instance we talk and don’t keep silent about the things going on in the country and the possible solutions, who knows, you may be talking to someone who can take it from there. We shouldn’t be the generation that came, saw and did nothing.
What are your career plans for the nearest future?
Well, Neken went into a music path because singing is my passion and of course a talent that God has blessed me with. I God to use me to present his message to the world. I believe I’m already doing that and in the future, I hope to do much more than I am already.
I hope to feature more music icons, I hope to shoot more videos for my songs. I feel the album content is rich and it carries a message of hope open for everyone. So I hope to get it across to as many people around the world.
Thanks for your time Neken
You can stream Grateful on
To contact Neken, these are his handles:
Last modified: May 14, 2021