By ayo onikoyi
Says, “I can never sing a song to make people sin”
What pushed you into doing gospel music?
I was born into a music family, basically gospel. My mom writes lots of gospel songs but that wasn’t what pushed me into doing gospel music. Growing up, I noticed that I was different, there were certain things my mates went through and somehow God saved me and I was puzzled as to how I could thank God. Then I decided that I will do this to glorify His name. As at late last year, I had this strong conviction that I should start immediately but I kept waving it aside but it was so strong I just had to start. So I started professionally last year October.
How many songs have you done so far and what has the reaction been like?
I dropped Daalu (Thank you) October last year which happens to be my debut single. I dropped it online and a lot of people accepted it, so I concluded that indeed God’s hand is in this. After then, I dropped Wo Mi (Look at Me) in February this year, but Wo Mi is the only Yoruba word in the whole song, every other lyric is in English. Wo Mi was released on February 20 which happens to be my birthday. I recently went to Ibadan and an OAP, Folakemi Martins, told me that she loves my songs especially a particular track that I should release it in Ibadan. I agreed, since it was a song I had intended to release most especially for Ibadan people. So there and then I dropped Ayo.
Two out of the three songs you’ve released are Yoruba themed. What is the craze about using Yoruba language to sing?
Laughs. I really don’t know! I just got these songs by inspiration not because I planned them. They were songs that came when I was going through a trying period in my life, especially Daalu and Ayo. Those songs are so dear to me, they came at a time I really needed God’s intervention and he was indeed faithful. I got the inspiration in Yoruba and not in any other language, not even my native dialect. And Yoruba is a language that everyone in Lagos understands and just has to know.
What were the circumstances that prompted you into singing Daalu and Ayo?
I just got married and was heavily pregnant and things just turned sour. As at the time the song came, my husband and I were at the verge of being evicted from our apartment and we had nowhere to go. On the very day Daalu came to me, I knelt down to pray, in tears, and the Holy Spirit just said “Thank me” which sounded awkward considering the situation I was in. So in tears, I started singing Daalu Daalu Daalu which means thank you. I wrote just that line down in 2016 and just last year, my husband said I should add something to it. So I translated it to his native language and when I had the conviction to start music, I went to the studio, met a producer and told him that I have a song; he made the beat, I did a verse to it and we worked on it. That was how Daalu came to be, same goes for Ayo.
Are you just out to glorify God or make money as an artiste?
Of course, when you are glorifying God he has a way of paying you back, so the funds for you to do his work and also be comfortable will come. I want to pass out a message and I also want to touch lives whether there is money or not. But I know that there will be blessings in what I’m doing; financial blessings, good health and sound mind are some of them. I feel if I keep doing what I’m doing, apart from financial increase, I’ll have sound mind and I’ll keep doing God’s work.
Have these blessings been forthcoming in the last few months you started out?
Well, when it comes to every other good thing, let’s say a little financial gain, yes! Although, I haven’t made as much as I’ve put into my music career.
What is the guarantee that you will stick to singing gospel songs?
As long as Jesus tarries, gospel is what I want to do, I don’t think I want to do secular, never! It is not that secular is bad but the aspect of making people commit sin is what I don’t accept. I can decide to sing about my favorite food or about my community and I won’t commit sin. Secular songs are not evil, it only depends on how you sing it. The only problem is when you sing things that will make other people commit sin.
At what point do people start committing sin by singing secular songs?
Music has a way of connecting to people in different ways. Music passes a lot of messages, you might listen to a song and you are thinking of something else. You might also listen to a song and it will heal you, it depends on how you connect to it. The moment your songs lead people into sin, that is when you commit a sin.
What is your take on gospel artiste infusing secular flavours into their songs just to appeal to a larger audience?
There is a bible passage that says we should do all things moderately. Be it in our dressing or our behaviour, we should not allow our neighbors fall into sin. In my opinion, I don’t know what their intentions are by infusing street slang to their songs. I have heard people say they do these things to draw people to God’s kingdom, and also a gospel minister once said “ When I sing in a club I do it to bring people to know God’s word.” Jesus did not live to please people, he did not say because he lived in a world of sin he must act like them. He was in their midst but you could see the light and see that he is a different person. I don’t think singing with street slang will make you draw many to God’s kingdom, we are just tools that God is using and if he doesn’t want to use us anymore he has a way of bringing people to him. I just feel we should be in the light knowing what God wants and following his ways, that way we can draw people to him. People like Nathaniel Bassey and Sinach don’t need to say what the street wants to connect to people, their songs bring healing to people, so, I disagree with using slang to draw people to God, I don’t encourage it.
This trend is gaining acceptance and if it keeps going, what do you think is the future of gospel music in Nigeria?
The things of God will always overcome. he world is coming to an end so we will be seeing a lot of this, it now depends on what we believe in and stand for as individuals. I might be in the midst of crazy people but do I want them to influence me? So, if as believers we stand on what we believe in and keep moving forward and doing our thing, with time all those things might pass away.