Oluwakemi Abimbola, a gospel artiste and the lead singer of Hephzibah Glorious Voices, in this interview with VICTOR OGUNYINKA, bares her thoughts on the misrepresentation of the gospel music industry and what gospel music should be.
Why did you opt for gospel music?
Nothing gives me more joy than singing in exaltation of God. Growing up in the act made it part of me and that is all I long to do most times. In addition, it is written that ‘let everything that has breath praise the name of the Most High,’ hence, my choice of gospel music.
We have so many ‘gospel-like’ songs by secular musicians now made popular by churches’ acceptance of these songs. Would you say such songs are church-worthy?
I think the definition of ‘gospel’ is clear enough. If it is not Christ-like, then gospel-like songs do not preach the gospel. There can’t be a midway! Gospel songs are not about feelings but of depth and biblical roots. Though some people say ‘if you feel the songs bring you closer to God, then, it isn’t really important if the lyrics make sense or not, as God sees your intention…’ Far from it! Gospel music in and out of church should not be such that makes the heart wander away from the salvation of one’s soul.
Does it bother you that gospel artistes don’t get as much publicity and attention compared to their secular counterparts?
Sincerely, since pop production and song writing standards began to infiltrate gospel music, things got pretty dicey. What bothers me is the fact that gospel music value has been misplaced by majority, even in churches. Christians tend to hail and shower ovations on flesh-gratifying songs and act cold towards spirit-edifying songs in church services. The impact gospel music has on people (who embrace it) is of greater value compared to ‘mere’ publicity without testimonies. Irrespective of the constraints out there, I believe that as long as one is not lured or influenced into adulterating gospel songs, with the mercies of God, the glory shall be made manifest with great accolade.
What would you say is your biggest challenge so far?
Personally, I don’t have any ‘biggest challenge.’ Suffice to mention the ones I have observed in churches, which resultantly have effect on individuals including myself. The lack of professional sound engineers and periodical music training in churches have not been too pleasing; most churches build structures without prioritising music. Musical instruments are not professionally coordinated and there is no provision for formal music training of choir members. This is also the challenge that our youths are swaying towards the secular world as that is where they get their yearnings filled as they see such as opportunity.
What is your dream for the gospel music industry in the nearest future?
I desire that gospel music industry in the nearest future would stand and portray gospel in its originality, making it stand out from the secular, thereby having greater influence as the salt of the earth instead of the other way round.
Gospel artistes have featured secular musicians over time. Would you be featuring one someday?
From my previous response, gospel music should be one that leads souls to Christ. Anything short of that is out of it for me. It’s not about what is in vogue or what sells, but the will of the One who blesses me with the talent and gift of life. Hence, I and other artistes of like minds can work together.