About a year ago, Francis Atela took on the big Nigerian Idol stage to audition for a chance to make it on the show.
“Life has been very good since Nigerian Idol” - Season 6 first runner-up Atela
Atela emerged the first runner-up in the sixth season of the Nigerian Idol.
He was one of the best that auditioned, and he sailed through all the stages to the top 11 making it to the live show. He handled each week as if the show belonged to him, and even the fans could tell. It was highly unsurprising to see him make it to the finals and finish as the first runner-up. Atela was one of the most consistent acts on the sixth season, and he is now speaking up about how those ten weeks have changed his life.
Perhaps, Atela had such professionalism and stage presence throughout the show because he did not come in as a rookie. Before ever appearing on the Nigerian Idol stage, he had already released a fairly successful single, Jankara. As expected, many thought he no longer needed the platform, but the 26-year-old says it was the best decision he made in 2020.
“I was actually under a small record label but the label had many financial problems, and they crashed. I needed a second chance at the limelight, so to say. So, when I saw the flier for Nigerian Idol's audition, I sent my video. When I auditioned, many guys thought I had grown beyond this platform. I thought nobody's ever too big for a second chance.
"And the fact that a lot of them tried to discourage me from going for Idols made me want to do it more because I get coconut head. I would say, it's the best decision I made in 2020 when I auditioned”.
Interestingly, 2020 was the singer’s third time auditioning for the show. He auditioned in 2011 and 2015 but did not make it far enough.
However, since the sixth season wrapped up in 2021, Atela has more than reaped the reward of his steadfastness and patience. He says that more people now know him, and he is soaking up the popularity and utilising it.
“Shortly after the show, I did a concert in Abuja, and we had a massive turnout. I brought Akunna, Kingdom, Faith Jason, and it was amazing. It rained that day, but people stayed even while it was raining. After that, I put out a couple of songs. One is 'Jaja'. It's doing pretty well in Jos and the northern part. That's where I put a lot of my energy into the promotion”.
Atela may have finished in second place, but there is nothing average about the life he leads now.
He says that even though he wanted to win Nigerian Idol so bad, he was “relieved because there was so much pressure building”. Still, he is experiencing life as a superstar and even though he agrees that it takes some getting used to, he enjoys it.
“But now, a few months after the show? When I come out, it's like I’m OBO, I'm Wizkid. So, it's different. People will be like, ‘Oh my God, Atela, it's you from Nigeria Idol.’ I'm like, ‘yeah, that's me’. Then they go - ‘oh my God, let's take a picture’. I'm like yeah, let's take a picture. So more people love my music now that more people know me. More people want to relate to me. More people are calling me for events. So it's nice”, he shares.
Apart from the gigs, Atela has become a most sought-after wedding singer, serenading couples in about 15 weddings since the show wrapped up last year. This is one of the things Atela is most happy about in his growth story. In an interesting display of excitement, he says, “You know how many weddings I don go? Check my Instagram. For some reason, many people just discovered that when Atela sings at their wedding, it's nice. I've performed at like 15 weddings, and I don't post all of them because I don't get good footage for some of them. But I post the ones I get good footage. It’s been cool. Honestly, I can't complain. I'm grateful to God.”
Still, it’s more than weddings. While Atela is throwing concerts, making money off gigs, creating music, and singing love songs at weddings, he is also inserting himself in Nollywood. A true artist, the singer, has also acted in some movies, none of which has been released.
However, he shares some details about his Nollywood moments. He says, “I act. I am an excellent actor. I have been in a couple of movies since after Idols. I've taken a couple of roles. I think the first one is titled 'No Biscuits in Heaven', and it's coming out sometime this year. Before May, June, thereabout”.
As he showed during Nigerian Idol season six, Atela is a very hard worker. That is the only way to explain how he has released two songs, has another one coming with a music video, and is already putting together his first project.
“In a few days, a song will drop. It's titled 'My Father', and we've shot the video for it. My album will also be ready in the next couple of months. I'm not rushing anything. The title is 'Love, Hate and Other Things'. It's going to feature songs from every time that I've made music, even some of the old songs that I have outgrown because I sound better now.”
For someone who has done music since he was just a 14-year-old boy, all the growth Atela has experienced since he left the Nigerian Idol show has meant the world to him. He describes his time on the show as beautiful and one he is very grateful for. He shares, “The experience was beautiful. I loved every aspect of it because from the beginning until like top three, it was so beautiful. Even after that, Nigerian idol was a great platform for me.”
His sense of appreciation makes sense. The show has given him great friends to grow with and help him score paying gigs. Still, it has also given him a platform and over 60,000 followers who love his sound and support his every move. Even though he started from the Nigerian Idol stage, the world is open to him, and Atela is slowly gaining ground one single after another.
A brand new season of Nigerian Idol premiered on Sunday, February 6, 2022, and it’s only a matter of time until a new set of winners emerge. For the seventh season, two new judges – Simi and D’banj – join Obi Asika in the search for Nigeria’s biggest music talent.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: