Gospel Artistes in Nigeria have often complained that the pulpit ministry is taking the shine off the singing ministry, which many have said would be the only relevant activity in heaven. In this interview with RAHMAN IS’MAIL, Rotimi Michael popularly known as Oba Ara, discusses his career and issues concerning gospel artistes in the country. Excerpts…
How did you begin your journey into music?
The journey began through a vision and a divine calling in the year 1996. God’s servant, Rev. Dr. Abereoje of the Christ Love Evangelistic Church, Biola, Ketu, Lagos, was instrumental to this.
I was an instrumentalist who had a passion for singing before the Lord fully took over me and since then, it has been from glory to glory.
Do you think gospel music has come of age in Nigeria?
Gospel music has come of age in Nigeria in the sense that many people choose it as a career and it has in a way changed the face of music in the country. Gospel music has inspired many to know their calling and vision from God.
Some people have criticize gospel artistes today for releasing uninspiring songs, what do you think is responsible for that?
There is an adage which says rumours are carried by fools and spread by ignorant people. The Bible says, “By their fruits, you shall know them,” I can say that they are not right, because if they carefully listen to every lyric of the song, they will understand what the music is all about, and if the lyrics are not inspiring, that means there is something wrong somewhere. That is why the Bible says, “For those who are led by the spirit are called the Sons of God”. It is therefore expedient for an individual to be sensitive in the spirit when composing songs.
How many albums have you done so far and have you bagged any awards?
By the grace of God, I have been able to produce my first album titled “Oba Ara,” in the year 2010 which brought about my stage name, and my second album, Beautiful Testimony (Eri To Rewa), in 2013. I also released Oba Ajulo and still counting, concerning the award credited to me, by the glory of God, I have got bagged tenth of awards to my credit and still counting. As a matter of fact, I was recently conferred as the Grand Commander Of Gospel Music (GCGM) by prestigious Benny Group of Schools.
In what ways would you suggest churches should encourage gospel artistes?
Churches should try and encourage gospel artistes by recognizing their presence and also encourage them with honorarium. This is because if a pastor invites a gospel artiste, who did not make a demand, such pastor should prepare an honorarium for his guest artiste.
What advice do you have for young people coming into the profession?
My advice is that they should try to be themselves. They should not pretend, they should always pray and ask God for direction. They should respect others and honour the men of God. Young people coming into the profession must know how to sacrifice and be concerned about their call.