Her steady rise is not only an inspiration; even her story from cradle is also a motivation, especially for the younger generation. Gospel singer, Aduke Ajayi, popularly known as Aduke Gold, in this interview by SEYI SOKOYA, speaks about life and the industry, among other things.
You have had a steady rise in the industry. How has the experience been so far?
It is at the average level. I thank God I am no more where I used to be, but I have not gotten to where I am going. It was a bad and bitter experience as a struggling singer. We are just hoping that very soon the sweetness of God will clear up all the bad experiences I have had in the industry. In all, I thank God.
Can you share some of your bitter experiences?
Getting to a destination in life, especially a successful one is never easy. When I started, there were many people who did not believe that it could get to this stage, except my uncle, Mr Ajayi Aderohunmu, stood by me and my choir master, Pastor Akin Akinola. They stood and encouraged me when the crisis started. I cannot thank them enough for their effort and impact on my career. I am beginning to see what they discovered in me back then. I was mocked and neglected by many others when the challenges became tough and I thought it would swallow me and my career up as a young girl, but these two people stood by me and I will be eternally grateful to them. Nobody would want to believe in an orphan’s dream, but God sent angels in human form to help interpret my dream better.
You had the opportunity to choose between secular music and gospel; what gave you the conviction that gospel was your calling?
I have always been a church girl from the beginning of my life. I was a member of the drama group and prayer warrior group. I did morning cry every 5 a.m. for four days in a week and I was in the junior and senior choir; I led the choreography group, even at eight. I was also part of the sanctuary keepers. I did a lot in the church when I was young and I am still committed to the work of God. I have never in my life thought about delving into the secular and mind you, those who sing secular songs are not worldly. They are only fulfilling their destinies in another field. I know most of the secular artistes that have good homes and are well cultured. The word ‘secular’ to me is just a brand and genre of music and it has nothing to do with an individual’s personal life. There are some gospel artistes whose ways of life are nothing to write home about. Personally, I have never considered the secular option, but I can satisfy my clients with varieties at parties, hence I don’t go beyond my boundary. I always remember I am a child of God, so, I won’t do what people will see and question the fact that I am a gospel artiste.
What is the distinctive thing you think you have brought into the industry?
I was not defined eight years ago when I took up music professionally. I went through the learning process, hearing and scoring songs. I also attended several conferences, seminars, concerts as well as music school. But I became defined five years ago when I waxed my second album, which didn’t even do well. It was a good song yet it didn’t sell. The bulk of the albums I sold were the ones sold in churches. It was my third album entitled ‘Mighty Mercy’ that brought me into limelight. It has even become my trademark. The work is doing well. In fact, I am not after the money, but getting the momentum and by this I am already evangelising to the world. People think making money is the central thing, but no, it is all about having the audience, people that will vouch for your song when you are not there. Also, I have just completed a work entitled ‘Glory’, which has redefined my brand. I am not there yet. I am resolute to change the system as well as revive the original philosophy of gospel music. I know I may face a lot of challenges in trying to achieve this, but I know I have God’s backing. I may not be rich because I am still a big time struggler, but the truth is I know if I have something special to give to the world, I will get a special value in return.
Don’t you feel the challenges you experienced while trying to get your footing, even as an orphan at your tender age, were too big for you and how were you able to overcome them?
If you are not ready to face industrial challenges forget about greatness. Someone told me recently that I was too young for the challenges I was facing. I have been an orphan from age four. It was a serious experience one can hardly forget in life. I never had anyone to call my real father or mother. Meanwhile, having parents does not mean one will have a fulfilled life. In my own case, I had a bad case of vertigo (fainting every time) and whenever I had this, people would wonder why I did that. If my parents were to be alive they would not have been able to do one percent of what God has done in my life. I may not be rich, but I have God. I use my life to appreciate God because without Him I am nothing. I have been through several bitter experiences in life I was abused, raped, emotionally abused, physically and mentally abused and yet, here I am still waxing stronger for God and I am still praying to please God. I am not ready to please any man. I also hawked slippers, fried fish and yam. I did many things to survive. I was a teacher; I was already teaching at 16.
What is your assessment of the gospel music industry?
I have never seen the gospel industry of my dream. Everybody is running a personal race, including myself. We are all running for our personal interests and gains. We shouldn’t be shocked that no gospel artiste may be seen in the kingdom of God if the rapture takes place. Though there are people that serve God in spirit and in truth, the investment side of gospel songs is higher than the evangelistic part. I want to make my album sell to make money and get more church performances and become famous, so, that I can drive a jeep in the midst of my contemporaries. But we have forgotten the important goal. What seed are we planting in the hearts of people? To me, I am yet to see the gospel music industry of my dream. I am not talking about the season of Mama Bola Are, Mama Funmi Aragbaye, Baba Ayewa, ECWA, and a host of others; I mean the so-called millennium era of ours. We have dropped originality. We are all craving for fame. Most of our songs only last for few months and we rush to the studio in order to refresh people’s minds with another shoddy work. Mama Bola Are has been singing for over 40 years; Baba [Ebenezer] Obey’s songs have been relevant for more than 50 years now, even before my mother was born. That is the tradition I want to take after.
How did you become educated despite the fact that there were no parents to support you?
Education is not about going to a good school. I know people who went to good schools but are not as learned as some illiterates. For me, I attended a public school, Ayanleye Memorial Primary School, School 4, Ọgba, Agege, Lagos State. Then, I was leaving with my stepmum. The truth is that it is all about your personal will to improve every day. I read books, listened to good documentaries, read newspapers, attended conferences and to the glory of God I am a child psychologist. I have a degree in History from the Lagos State University and I have not used any of my certificates to work. After my degree programme, I realised that Nigeria is a special country and one needs to seize the opportunity. So, instead of going for a master’s degree, I went for a professional course; I had a diploma in Montessori method of education. I did special education with children with specialties and deformities. I am an expert in dealing with children who have autism, cerebral palsy, dyslexia and so on.
I have another diploma in child care in order to have theory-based experience coupled with the practical experience we have in Nigeria. So, I am a certified nanny and expert in teaching elementary pupils. I am hoping that God will help me to establish a very good school to accomplish all my dreams. At present, I am undergoing a seminary degree in Christian education, which I believe will boost my career and spiritual life.
Which caucus do you belong to in the industry?
I am ‘caucus less’ and that is why I don’t have any friend, but I have people I respect. I am not lonely, yet I am not isolated. I would say that I am somehow secluded. I can be in a room with a keyboard or writing songs.