‘I am a worshipper at heart’
As a kid, all Samuel Medas wanted was to be accepted. Smaller than other boys his age in Guyana, he was often picked on; the last person chosen for sports teams and other activities.
“I had a lot of identity issues growing up because I wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere,” Medas said. “Those underlying insecurities are what forced me to get involved with a bad crowd as a teenager.
“I’ve never done drugs or used a gun, but the people I hung out with at that time were using them.”
Now an award-winning gospel reggae artist, he found his passion and purpose in God.
The 30-year-old will share his testimony and catalogue of music next Sunday, at a 10am worship service and a free concert at 6pm.
Both events, hosted by Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, will take place at Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts.
Expect to hear hits such as Royalty and In My Father’s House; Medas’s goal is to create a space for people to truly and authentically worship.
“I’m a worshipper at heart,” he said. “I sing reggae, that’s the medium I use, but my heart is really to worship.
“I want to move people in worship and for people to be free and get lost in the presence of God. I also hope my testimony inspires young people to turn to Him.”
While raised as the “nice pastor’s son who served in church every Sunday”, Medas found himself hanging out with “the rude boys” as a teen.
“I realised I couldn’t serve two masters at the same time,” he said. “What woke me up was actually a motorcycle accident. The bike hit me down one day and I collided with a six-foot concrete wall. I blacked out and people who saw the crash thought I should be dead.”
The bike was damaged but he walked away from the accident in 2004, without any broken bones.
“I realised God is in charge of my life, not me, because I should have died. Everyone was wondering how it was possible I was walking out of that accident.
“God had claimed me for himself regardless of my limitations.” It was then he decided to pursue the musical gifts God had given him more seriously. He has been amazed by what God has been able to accomplish.
“I’m grateful that I can be a voice and influence for young people because every single day when I wake up and open my social media pages on Facebook and Instagram I have young people reaching out to me because of the music and how it has impacted their lives,” he said. “The music is a platform for me to minister to young people and I am very grateful for this opportunity. It’s an open door to give back to people, young people especially, who are looking for purpose.
“For me, it’s not just about knowing Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, but helping them to pursue and tap into their God-given giftings and use it.
“I come from the Caribbean and as a whole they place emphasis and prestige on certain jobs. If you aren’t a lawyer or doctor, you aren’t anything. But I am proving that there is value in following after God’s calling, no matter what that is.”
Royalty recently reached over one million views on YouTube, which is rare for an independent, unsigned artist. Medas believes his success is due to “God and hard work”.
The catchy chorus came to him on a whim.
The gospel reggae artist was at a presentation speaking to young people about self-esteem and knowing who they are in God when he began to freestyle: “My daddy is a king and I am royalty.
“The moment I sang the words I realised I should record it,” he said. “I went into the studio the next week to lay down the lyrics to that track.”
The tune speaks about how once we have accepted Jesus as our Saviour we are no longer fatherless spiritually, that we have new ownership and are adopted into God’s family.
“I meant some of the lyrics metaphorically but when I released the song there were so many people who grew up without fathers who really resonated with the lines,” Medas said.
Two years ago, he was named New Artist of the Year at the Marlin Awards in the Bahamas, considered to be the gospel Grammy Awards of the Caribbean.
Last month, he took home the title of Regional Artist of the Year at the Gospel Music Awards in Trinidad and Tobago.
He said he was “amazed and shocked” because of the musical reputations of the people he was up against.
“All of the other nominees were giants in their own right in the Caribbean gospel music scene. I was awestruck to even be nominated,” he said. “My hope is that I can pave the way for other young people looking to pursue the calling God has placed over their lives.
“I want them to know that despite the limitations, they can break down walls and do what people didn’t think was possible in the past.”
• DJ Coverboy of Mighty Valor Movement will perform with Samuel Medas at Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts on Sunday, March 10. Admission is free