A worship song that we all know and love — but may not know about its African origins — made history this year by becoming the first song to ever have two covers in the Top 10 of the Christian songs category on Billboard last month.
Recently versions of Way Maker by Michael W Smith and Madelyn Berry were concurrently in the Top 10, while two other versions were in the Top 40, making a total of four versions of the same song composed by Nigerian gospel singer Osinachi (Sinach) Okoro-Joseph in the Billboard Top 50.
“Way Maker” also holds the top spot on the list of Top 100 songs ranked by Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), based on use in churches.
Born and raised in Eastern Nigeria, Sinach, the 47-year-old senior worship Leader of Loveworld first started singing for family and friends in the late 80s as part of her church choir, notably Christ Embassy, under pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s leadership, reports astepfwd.com It was during this time that she discovered the call God had for her life stating in the Zambian Daily Mail: “I had a very different path of my own, pursuing a degree in physics until I discovered my destiny through the help of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy”.
Since this time, Sinach has grown to become an international Gospel singer, ministering around the world.
Christianity Today refers to Way Maker as the American quarantine anthem, noting that it has topped the US charts for both Christian airplay and church worship during the first months of the pandemic.
“As churches joined protests in US cities in recent weeks, the song has also been sung by demonstrators marching for racial justice, calling out for God as a ‘way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness.'” writes Christianity Today.
Sinach’s original worship video for Way Maker [see below], released in 2015, has been viewed over 151 million times but the song didn’t take off among American evangelicals until Michael W Smith released it as a single in February last year, featuring longtime backup singer Vanessa Campagna and worship leader Madelyn Berry.
The song has been translated into 50 languages, and Sinach wrote that Way Maker has become “a theme song sung in many languages [to] bring hope and faith to many in distress during the Covid pandemic.”