Hello #SelahAfrikNation. I am excited to be writing this piece to you today for so many reasons amongst which is the fact that I am really glad about the reception of my last article “Harshtag Godwin [What the Gospel Artiste Keeps Missing]”. While I was writing the article, my greatest concern was that a lot of Gospel artistes were going to misconstrue my good intention and feel I was hitting below the belt but to my surprise, approximately 65% of the feedback I got where from Gospel artistes and they reckon with what I spoke about. That is not to say I didn’t get some few negative feedback… but I survived… LoL.
Enough of my ranting (I like to do that a lot when I write because I don’t talk that much), I had one of the most fabulous meeting yet in 2015. I was invited for Jibike’s get-together 2 weekends ago. (You know Jibike right? Cool FM OAP, voice-over artiste, etcetera…). Okay, let me not bore you with the boring details of how I got to the gig and I was offered drinks and small chops and sat with Joe Praize’s manager PShegs to have a very productive conversation… oh I just bored you with it… okay, moving on!
Gospel music artistes Joe Praize and Nosa soon arrived and we all got into an interesting conversation. The most significant thing about the presence of these 2 artistes was that it soon dawned on us – during the conversation – that we had the 2 sides of the Gospel music seated right there in our midst. These two men represent a side of the Gospel music ministry – Conventional (or typical) and mainstream Gospel music – with the same goal which is the message of the gospel of the Kingdom.
I want you to bear in mind that when I refer to these two artistes as the two sides of the Gospel music, I am not talking about their genre of music. That means, they could have been doing R&B, Rap, Traditional medley, and the likes, it wouldn’t matter because their approach and appeal is the focus here. But on the other hand, the approach and appeal seem to always go with the genre. We will discuss that on a broader scope some other time.
Joe Praize is one of the renowned worship leaders of our time. He sometimes delve into the urban sub-genre of Gospel music but defaults as a contemporary Gospel music artiste. His songs that has caught across regional barriers and Language include “Great and Mighty God” with the South African Soweto Mass Choir,” “All the Praise,” more recently is “Alpha and Omega” and “My Love Song”.
Nosa, on the other hand is an urban Gospel artiste. You can always hear some Folk/World music and Soul inside Nosa’s music but if we are to generalize, we can classify Nosa’s music under the “Commercial music” genre, predominant in this era of music in Nigeria.
You may not often hear “Jesus” in Nosa’s music as you will often hear in Joe Praize’s, Nosa may expand the thematic preoccupation of his music such that it is can accomodate varying experiences rather than Christianity and on top of that, he is signed to a label that is not Gospel music concentrated. On the other hand, Joe Praize can even start a song by speaking in tongues, you can ditch your choir member and play Joe Praize’s music and still have a powerful worship session in church and I doubt if Joe will sign to a record label that is not focused on the Gospel content. Haven said all these, does the above premises make either of the artiste a lesser minister than the other? Could it be that either of the artiste is concentrating effort on appeal based on market value of his music?
Either of the artistes could have been misinterpreted, especially Nosa, who could have been perceived as a ‘sellout.’ But I’ll asked you this question. Have you been blessed by the music of these artistes? I know I have! Therefore non is less of a minister than the other.
A lot of Gospel artistes who have been expanding their thematic preoccupation have been including the term “inspirational artiste” to their profile while some are outrightly removing the “Gospel artiste” and replacing it with the former. At some point in the past – like many of you – this always gets me upset because I used to feel that these artistes are losing the aim of their ministry and are running after mainstream appeal in order to make airplay easier and reception larger. Make no mistake, this is true for many so-called Gospel artistes, Nosa has however found the balance between mainstream and the Gospel while Joe Praize has also remained true to his calling.
According to Nosa — as we will later find out during the discussion — there is a difference between trying to act like a monkey in order to catch a monkey and trying to appeal to the monkey so as to be accepted. (I’m paraphrasing, those were not his exact words… anyways please see 1 Corinthians 9:22). A lot of Gospel artistes don’t even know who they are, some are obsessed with the idea of ‘blowing’ so they employ tactics and ideas which in their mind will help them attain the goal. Their rules of engagement are wrong (spiritually or intellectually) so they end up in more mess. It’s either they mislead the crowd who are following them or they mislead themselves, either ways disaster looms.
Nevertheless, there are Gospel artistes whose ministry has transcended the ‘norm’ as we know it. God has call them out and into the mainstream market. They, like Nosa, know their calling and stay within the scope of it. Joe Praize puts it better. He said; “at the end of the day, let every man understand his ministry and pay attention to fulfill it because we hear different things and have different revelations. It will be haphazard for Joe Praize to try to do Nosa and vice versa.”
It took that discussion for most of us seated that evening to really understand Nosa’s ministry and as he sat down there haven conveyed the God’s big idea to us, he bowed his head and I thought he took in a deep breathe like saying, “finally these ones got it!” I could imagine the criticism he would have had to deal with and I thought to myself, how many people will he have to explain to? (We all have to deny ourselves and carry our cross).
I remember that Jesus once said, John the baptist came and he wasn’t eating what the people ate, wearing what the people wore, nor living wear they lived and they said he had a demon, the Son of man came eating and drinking and they say he is a glutton. Paul also echoed the something similar when he said I have become all things to all men so that I might win some. The approaches of Joe Praize and Nosa is the opposite of each other but the goal is the same. That is, to bring us – through the medium of music – to the Father. For a Christian who is conservative, Nosa’s music may be too worldly while for a liberal christian, Joe Praize’s music may be too churchy. However, either you are conservative or liberal, God is out for the interest of everyone so he commissioned the Joe Praizes and the Nosas for their respective audiences. Some of us don’t mind listening to both sides with an open mind though.
The same rule applies to being featured or featuring secular artistes. There will be some Gospel artistes who will know from their conviction that they can go ahead and feature or get featured while others will not enjoy such liberty. As Apostle Paul rightly said, all things are lawful but not all things are needful. It all boils down to revelation and commission.
I do not think there is anything wrong in trying to tailor your approach or appeal but if it starts to negates your calling and you are throwing caution to the wind, then there is definitely problem. We have Gospel artistes these days who wants to break out into the mainstream, it is good if you are doing it in line with the revelation and commission you received. Even I can point out a few who I think need to do more mainstream contents, however, there are also those who have no business playing around in that arena, please stay in your lane! Paul planted, Apollos watereth but it is God who gives the increase!
In the same line, there are Praise and Worship leaders who have no business becoming artistes, just like there are Gospel artistes who have strayed from their purpose but that is a topic for another day.
– Written by @Alex_Amos
Do you agree or disagree with Alex? Please drop your comment below.
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