Manchester based physician musician Pelumi Akintade has just released his new EP, titled 'Beautiful Grace'. Pelumi spoke to us all about how he was inspired to record this music, his life in the medical world, and what being a success means to him.
For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?
I was born in the UK of Christian Nigerian parentage. Music was something I grew up with in my family. As a boy, I remember picking out the melody lines of Christian songs as we sang together during our daily family devotions. Later as teenager, I played bass guitar in a Christian band with a few friends. We even got to play a fringe stage at Greenbelt. Eventually, I had opportunities to lead sung worship the various churches where I fellowshipped in my travels around the UK. I am a creative, so I have also enjoyed exploring the more spontaneous prophetic side of music whenever the opportunity has presented itself. The desire to record and release my music has been there for a long time, so I’m glad I have finally started that chapter with my first EP, Beautiful Grace.
I am also a medical doctor, husband and father of two young children. Life is beautiful... and busy!
Tell us about your new EP 'Beautiful Grace' and what the inspiration behind it was?
The EP was a few years in the making and it is my first solo project that I’m releasing into the public space. I’ve been writing songs for over two decades and I always felt that the opportunity would come to record and release my songs. Two of the four songs on the Beautiful Grace EP take their names from two of my children, Judah (Give Him Praise) and Annabel (Beautiful Grace). The song selection for this project was really what I believe the Holy Spirit wanted. They were written mostly in 2017, the same year as the Manchester bombing, just across my city, which was so sad because of the young lives lost. Interestingly, the EP was finally recorded in early 2020, the same year as the coronavirus hit the whole world to cause so much loss and uncertainty. I pray the songs will bring some hope amidst all the devastation, loss and pain.
Which is your favourite track on the EP and why?
Tough question! Each track on the EP is quite unique with a slightly different vibe and central message, so it’s difficult to pick one single out as my favourite. It’s almost comparable to asking me which of my children is my favourite. They are all favourites! Different beautiful expressions of the same DNA running through each one.
I love Give Him Praise, because of it’s upbeat funky feel. Beautiful Grace delves into the experience of loss and pain with a call to run to Jesus as the only hope. The message of In My Father’s House goes out primarily to the lost, lonely, misfit, rejected, unloved, outcast, who is struggling with identity and acceptance, needing to experience unconditional love and belonging. But we all need to hear and be reminded of the truths of the song. At Jesus Name is more of an anthem and I can envision a church congregation singing and declaring. The name of Jesus is powerful!
What message would you like people to take from your music?
The songs carry a message of hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ, the only sure foundation, especially at a time of massive shifts and palpable anxiety around the world. The songs are partly my personal testimony about the transformational power of God. I pray that the authenticity of the sound and style with the biblical truths in the lyrics convey my personal experience of the hope and salvation that others can have too. And I really hope that people will be encouraged towards finding God in a new way or even for the first time from listening to these songs.
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
I generally steer away from putting my music in a box, but it’s unavoidable when asked to decide genre for the different platforms. My style is quite laid back, but still with an urgent and compelling message to convey.
I sometimes ask other people what style, genre and description they would use for my music after listening, just for me to gain an appreciation of their interpretation of it.
If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?
As far as Christian songwriters go, I have gained a lot from the music ministry of Kevin Prosch and he is someone I would like to meet. He really pushed the boundaries as far as prophetic worship in concerned and blazed a trail for a lot of worship leaders to come after him. I discovered the music of Andre Crouch late on in life, but I have a huge respect for his life, body of work and legacy too. Matt Redman, Martin Smith and Israel Houghton are also guys I wouldn’t say no to working with.
In the non-Christian space, I really like Marc Cohn as a song-writer and artist. He is most famous for the song, Walking in Memphis, but he’s written other beautiful songs. I love his sound and style.
How would you define success in your career as an artist?
Success means many things to many people. For me as an artist, it is how effective I am to reach and impact as many people with the wonderful Gospel message as possible in a way that translates into people drawing closer to God and lives being transformed. To what degree have I fulfilled my God-given potential to use all the gifts and resources He’s invested in me to complete the assignments He has given me? It’s misleading to simply focus on record sales and streaming data, whether I got signed by a big record label, headline at major music festivals, got a million followers on social media, acquire a shiny car collection, boast a massive real estate portfolio, and all the glossy exterior stuff, nice as all that may be (but fraught with their unique dangers too!). At the end of my life, how faithful have I been to the call of God on my life and ultimately to Him? That is the real marker of success.
What is your favourite album of all time?
I don’t really have a favourite album, but I do enjoy The Journey by Andrea Crouch, Come to the Light by Kevin Prosch, A Deeper Level by Israel Houghton & New Breed, The Father’s Song by Matt Redman, the self titled debut album by Marc Cohn. These are all ‘old’ albums, but I still connect with them nevertheless.
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?
The track, If Not For Your Grace by Israel Houghton is really beautiful. Both the album and acoustic versions hit the mark.
What does the next year hold for you?
Only God really knows what the next year is going to look like, especially with the coronavirus pandemic still very much with us! I would like to finish some new songs that I have started and hopefully release a follow up EP. I also want to do some acoustic versions of my songs, and do some live worship stuff because there is a rich experience in that space when the Holy Spirit leads and works in real time.
I have book ideas and I’ve got book titles and written some book outlines. I’m also thinking about starting a podcast. It all depends what the good Lord puts His finger on for me to run with and gives the grace to execute.
Professionally, I would also like to explore and transition into some new areas. I’m very much into a relatively new medical speciality called Lifestyle Medicine and I got my board certification qualification last year as a Lifestyle Medicine Physician. I think it is a much more health giving and sustainable approach to healthcare over the long term. This includes coaching people and empowering them towards better health.