One thing I realise about Nigerian music, is the talent that resides in us, especially Niger Deltans who have a keen sense of originality in music. Waje, Nosa and Omawumi Megbele are just a few to buttress my point. Reminiscing on music, I have never for once forgotten the legendary Lady Esse Agesse, with her unforgetable hit ‘Peppersoupe’.
Becoming a gospel musician, with her renewed spirit added even more verve to her music. I fondly remember the track, ‘Ara Eba Mi Yo’, and how touching that track was, even to my young Christian mind. But my favourite track by Lady Esse was ‘Conqueror’ with its super funky beat, her incredibly soulful voice, with a deliciously animated flavour and the giddy, crunchy featured rap!
Curious to know about her unique brand of originality in her music, I ask her how her cultural disposition and life growing up groomed her talent and shaped the records she has released so far. She explains that ‘To be honest I grew up in Lagos, however we would visit the village now and again. My parents though helped to build my love for my heritage. My late dad would teach me folk songs from our home town of Uwheru, in fact he taught me the song ‘Mi de se ko yon vwe, Oghene me yon vwe etc’ which was in my first ever gospel album in 1997, today we sing the song in different churches to the glory of God.
About her musical influences, she sites the Late Whitney Houston, explaining that ‘she inspired me to want to be a better singer and my father of course. He had a wonderful voice. Were he alive I am sure I would’ve done a duet with him.’
On how she has grown in her relationship with God and how He speaks to her everyday, she says ‘I am grateful to God for not giving up on me, I haven’t been always faithful to Him but His faithfulness to me has been constant and for that I am eternally grateful. I gave my life to Christ years back and my journey as a Christian has always been to please God in whatever capacity that is required of me wherever I fellowship. I always thought music was the only thing I had to offer God until He began to train me under Pastor Alex Akinyemi and Pastor Edwin Adebayo.
By the grace of God I am serving as a parish pastor and I rely on God daily to help me to serve Him better. While I was praying to God to give us a message for our cross over night, the Holy Spirit took me to 1 Cor 13 and laid it on my heart to tell the church that our path to greatness in 2017 is LOVE. To love God and our neighbours and the parable of the Samaritan in Luke 10 will explain who your neighbour is. So I just want to put it out there through this medium that there is no law against love all over the world, where there is an act of love greatness, is given a chance to happen. In Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) it says “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”. If we all exhibit these tendencies the world will be a wonderful place.
In all honesty, I will not say God said, God told me etc if He didn’t, as I don’t want any word that I speak to stand against me. I will always say what is in the word and encourage everyone to read the Bible themselves. However, there are times when I get the leading to say something and I believe that it is the Holy Spirit prompting me because as long as it is within the word of God, the Holy Spirit will always direct us.’
When I inquire over nuggets of wisdom she would give to established gospel musicians in Nigeria and in the diaspora, she implores them saying,
‘To up and coming musicians, please don’t give up. Be persistent and consistent. To established musicians, help each other and help the up and coming ones as well.’
As regards her latest single ‘ Oghene Migwo Doh’, other singles and her upcoming album and how it would evolve this year, she emotes,
‘Wow the song itself was produced years back but I never had the chance or ability at that time to promote it, there was so much happening. In fact, that the video of Oghene Migwo Doh saw the light of day is a testimony. My first set of rushes disappeared without a trace in 2010 and I was totally devastated, so I just left everything in despair, but whenever friends and family heard the song they kept asking why I never made the video of the song. So hearing the question over and over again prompted me to make the video. It should have been released 2016 Christmas period, but things didn’t work as planned. In fact, I was almost thinking the video would not be released. Finally, on January 6th 2017, the world welcomed ‘Oghene Migwo Doh’ with love and I am eternally grateful to God and my fans for their encouragement.
So what I am doing now is working on a couple of songs, adding some that are already waiting to be used and eventually have something to present to the world later this year.’
I probe further on how her daily worship has impacted her life and music, she elucidated on fact that it does ‘greatly…I write songs based on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and on situations happening around me and while I am singing normal praise and worship songs in my quiet time, inspirations for other songs come and I pick up my phone and record the melody into it. Singing to God inspires me.’
As regards her experience of singing gospel music abroad and how it differs from doing the same in Nigeria, in terms of recording in the studio and performing live renditions, she explains without mincing words,
‘To be honest, I have mostly limited myself to the church outside Nigeria. All my songs to date that I have personally recorded have all be done back home in Nigeria.
I did a song years ago with Pastor Larry Ovie of Faith Christian Fellowship in Galway, Ireland for his Olorun Sheun Rere album and it was a wonderful experience.’
When I ask about the most influential message she has communicated to the world by song, she gladly declares,
‘That would be ‘Ara E Ba Mi Yo’ written by Pastor Clement Akinwole for me in 1997 it became a household song, as it was saying the world should rejoice with me as I have Christ and I am living in peace.
However I would like to say ‘Let It Go’ is the most influential song as it was written by myself when I was going through a rough patch in life and peace came when I let it all go for Master Jesus to take over.’
I ask on how has her music evolved in her years away from the public eye, and she explains that it is still evolving.
On her nongovernmental organization and the impact it has made in Ireland as well as Nigeria, tells of the Women of Love Foundation as ‘an organisation that was founded to celebrate women and girls especially. Empowering women and children, especially the girl child, is something that is close to our heart and we have been working with other organisations to promote education and highlight issues that affect women and children all over the world. We also celebrate men and women all over the world who have been of help and support to humanity by supporting women and children, by giving them an international award for excellence. This is to encourage them to keep doing their good works.’
Not one to leave her fans hanging, she hails,
‘Doh doh doh ma ni wadoooo, Nigeria, Ireland, Uk, US, fans all over the world wadoooo, iiiiiii, iyeee.
I greet you all with love in my heart. I thank you all for your prayers, words of encouragement and support. You keep my mind on the music and I promise to keep singing to put a smile on your faces, inspiration on your hearts and moves on your feet. Let’s keep the flag flying. God bless and keep you all in Jesus name.
We have put the video on youtube with the interpretations for those who don’t understand Urhobo’
It was such a lovely experience interviewing this lady who has influenced me a great deal, and feeling first hand her warm and incredibly sweet nature.
Check her latest video below.
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