New artist @Blessing Offor is sitting on the couch in his small apartment right outside of downtown Nashville, clutching an acoustic guitar in his hands. He casually strums it as we chat, admitting it’s a bit of a security blanket for him. Offor is the latest signing to @Chris Tomlin’s label imprint. Fans have been introduced to the blind singer through his soulful, piano-led single, “Brighter Days,” the title-track of his debut EP. “The Voice” alum will soon release an acoustic collection, featuring stripped-down recordings of select songs from the EP and a version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” It’s a fitting cover, considering Offor’s originals possess a similar emotional pull and universal appeal. He intentionally writes about everything from love and relationships to loss and heartbreak — and describes it all as worship. K-LOVE fans can eavesdrop on our conversation below as the singer/songwriter shares the moment he got a text from Tomlin, what he thinks about John Mayer and how he views his blindness as a blessing.
WATCH NOW: “Brighter Days” official music video
K-LOVE: How did you initially meet Chris Tomlin, and how did that friendship turn into a professional partnership?
Blessing Offor: I’d written a song called “Tin Roof” with a woman named Natalie Hemby, who is my hero. She is amazing. That song changed my life, back in 2018. It could be Christian; it could also maybe sit in the country world. That song was making its way around Nashville. Artists were curious, interested. There were a couple country artists looking at it, wanting to cut it. I get this call: “Hey, Chris Tomlin really loves this song. He’s about to put out this Chris Tomlin & Friends record. Would you be interested in meeting him?” I’m like, “Yes! One thousand percent! Is this a question?” I get this text, “Hey, Blessing, this is Chris Tomlin.” I was like, “Oh my goodness! Save number.” He comes to my apartment, we hang. He asks me to play him some songs, so I start playing. He asks if there is a Dropbox of songs. I give him the Dropbox, and he peruses through — with no exaggeration and all due humility — hundreds of songs. We talk about “Tin Roof,” and he says, “I would love to have this on the record.” And I think, Sir, there are not enough yeses in the world! And then he goes, “I’d love for you to sing on it.” Then he tells me about the label imprint. And I’m like, “Man, you are like Santa Claus making dreams come true. This is crazy.” And it just grew from there. I talked to him about growing up in church, but not necessarily thinking I’m going to be a worship leader. He was like, “You don’t have to lead worship. Don’t worry about being anything you’re not. Are you a Christian that plays music? Awesome! That’s what I want.”
K-LOVE: Is that how you view yourself as an artist — a Christian, who happens to also play music?
Blessing Offor: One hundred percent. I want to write songs that resonate with believers, but songs that can also resonate with people who have lived hard things. I am a huge proponent of the fact that being a Christian is being a little Christ. So many times in the New Testament, Jesus had all the Torah memorized, but sometimes He would tell people a parable. In the right crowd, He wouldn’t throw Scripture at people; He would tell them a story. I’ve always found that really powerful. I think music is one of those gifts that allows you to speak to people past their preconceived notions. I’ve always loved using music to say things that people might not want to hear if you said it to them straight, but they might hear it in a song. That’s kinda my thing.
Chris and I talked through that. We just vibed. He got it, he loved it; I loved it. I’m always either going to be too Christian for pop or too pop for Christian. I inhabit this very strange middle ground. I am undoubtedly, unequivocally a Christian, but I also grew up on the world’s music, so to speak. But I don’t think the “world” is this evil monster we should avoid. We should bring our salt into it. I rambled all that to Chris, and he goes, “I’m in.”
K-LOVE: What’s so interesting is, you take someone like Chris Tomlin, and there is no question he is writing songs about Jesus. He is known for writing songs for the Church. Your audience is so different, in some respects.
Blessing Offor: I can’t say enough about Chris — he is so amazing. He knows that my audience and his audience may be different. But how different are they, really? We as humans have a tendency to separate ourselves. We like our safety bubbles. I’m from Nigeria. I grew up in Connecticut and chose to move to Nashville, a place where, seemingly, I had nothing in common. I love that. Just when you think you don’t have anything in common with somebody, go to them, live with them, sit with them and eat with them. And then you’ll realize you’re brothers. Let’s break down all the “isms” we like to hide behind. I think the world is hungry for something that doesn’t fit in a clean box.
K-LOVE: You sign with Chris. You now have a song on the radio. You have an EP out. You’re going on tour this fall with Brandon Lake. All these doors are opening in Christian music, essentially. Where is your head space right now? Now that you have these opportunities before you, now that you’re in this lane, what are you thinking?
Blessing Offor: I think we have dreams, and then God clarifies those dreams for us sometimes. Blessing as a senior in high school was like, “Cool, I’ll be famous by 20. First GRAMMY®? Give it time, maybe by 21.” We are so silly sometimes. God knows what’s good for us. He goes, “Blessing, you just relax, good Sir.” My goal is to keep being myself and keep showing people who I am in music and in conversation. It doesn’t feel in any shape or form like I’m wearing a costume. I’m bad at that kind of thing. I might be singing a song about loss or love, but any love song in the world is nothing but an imitation of the love of Christ. If it doesn’t say “Jesus,” does it make it any less of a Christian song? These are things I’ve always felt deeply. I think there is Gospel everywhere. We are really quick to just want it the way we are used to it, but we miss out on a lot.
K-LOVE: What’s an example of the Gospel in real time, in the “real world,” that we might miss because it’s not in a neat “Christian” package?
Blessing Offor: Everyone knows the John Mayer song, “Gravity,” one of my favorite songs. I always say that song is a psalm. “Gravity is working against me… Twice as much ain’t twice as good. And can’t sustain like one half could. It’s wanting more that’s gonna send me to my knees… Oh, I’ll never know what makes this man, with all the love that his heart can stand, dream of ways to throw it all away.” If we don’t hear the Gospel in that, what are we doing? That song to me sounds like Ecclesiastes. That guy is bonafide, legitimate, probably one of the guitar gods of our day. And yet he goes, “This is all pointless, I see it.” Oh, it’s so good, so earnest. And then at the end, he goes, “Just keep me where the light is.” Why aren’t we playing that at church?
K-LOVE: You have to keep your eyes open, right? You have to look for it.
Blessing Offor: Yes. And if you have criteria for it, you won’t find it. God is too big for that. He is too in love with His creation for Him to only be found in one corner.
K-LOVE: A large part of your story — not just as an artist, but as a human — is struggle and perseverance. How do you view your blindness as a blessing?
Blessing Offor: In a very profound way, I view blindness as this learning implement that God has allowed me to have and grow from. There’s a vulnerability in me getting to say, “Hey, I need your help.” And people immediately relate to that. It dawned on me a while back, what would it look like if we could all see each other as disabled? We would have so much more grace for each other. So, for me, it’s a gift. I think God is always trying to show us that He’s given us all a thorn in our side. We are all supposed to grow from said thorn. For me, it’s blindness — it’s a more visible thing. So people have this tendency to go, “Oh, that’s so sad.” But I guarantee you, whatever your cross is or the next guy’s cross, I’m gonna keep mine. I like my cross. Your cross feels odious to me, feels heavy to me. But my cross feels heavy to you. So God knows exactly how He built us and what He designed us for, so that no man may boast and His name might, ultimately, be glorified.
K-LOVE: We are all carrying something. And I would be naive to assume blindness is the only thing you’re dealing with. You have other things you’re carrying, too.
Blessing Offor: Yes. Quite frankly, when all this cool stuff wasn’t happening, my friends were paying rent for me. Money was that hard. Blindness was the least of my worries.
RELATED CONTENT: Newcomer Blessing Offor Serves Up Soulful Single, “Brighter Days”
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