Take it as gospel... Mobo success would be dream for Capital star

Rising gospel singing star el Mafrex
Rising gospel singing star el Mafrex
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He came to Edinburgh to study IT, but may just be on course to become one of the city’s biggest music stars.

A 28-year-old, known as el Mafrex, who has lived in the Capital for three years, has been nominated for Best Gospel Act at the star-studded Mobo [Music of Black Origin] Awards in November.

That will see him rub shoulders with some of music’s biggest names, with the likes of Beyonce, Kanye West and Jay-Z nominated along with UK artists such as Emile Sande and Jessie J.

The Nigerian-born performer, who keeps his real name a secret, began singing at the age of seven in his local church in Akwa Ibom State, and now lives in Inverleith.

But his success is not completely out the blue.

One of his videos, Jehovah, has attracted more than 385,000 YouTube hits in only six months, and he has recently won Best Urban Recording and Album of the Year at the Scottish New Music Awards.

He told the Evening News: “When I found out I was nominated for a Mobo, it was just the best thing I’d ever heard.

“I didn’t actually believe it straight away, I had to go online and check.

“I never saw this coming. I watched last year’s awards on TV and prayed that one day I would get to that level, but I never ever thought it would be so soon.”

He added: “It’s such a celebrated award. I’m so proud to be representing Edinburgh. I’m putting it on the Mobo map.

“I hope by the grace of God and with the people of Scotland behind me I’ll win.”

Despite his success, el Mafrex said he is still planning to get more letters after his name, with his sights now set on a PhD.

“I finished my Masters in information development systems from Edinburgh Napier in 2010.

“Some people feel that if they’re making a career out of music, then they don’t need to keep up with school and push themselves academically.

“I like to push both ways, playing music and going to school.”

Before the Mobos, el Mafrex is performing at the Aloud for Autism Benefit at The King’s Hall Community Church, South Clerk Street, on October 5. Tickets are £7/£5 and all proceeds go Autism Initiatives.

To vote for el Mafrex, visit www.mobo.com/voting

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com