Nigerian singer and Gospel artiste, Funke Echefu has stated that many Nigerian gospel singers are not born again. She made the revelation in an interview with The New Telegraph.
How did you start doing gospel music?
I started singing as a child in the children department of my church, Foursquare Gospel Church. This led to my joining the choir in my later years. So I have been singing gospel for as long as I can remember.
What has been the inspiration behind your music?
Primarily, the Holy Spirit! On the other hand my experiences and my daily victories also are sources of inspiration to me.
Why did you decide to do gospel music and not other genre of music?
For me it was not a matter of making a choice, it couldn’t have been any other way but Gospel. Being a child of God every part of me is dedicated to the service of God.
Do you see yourself doing secular music some day?
Let’s first define what secular music is. In the real sense of it, secular music is not entirely bad. For instance, in the Bible, there are secular songs such as love songs in the book of Songs of Solomon and harvest songs in the writings of some of the prophets.
When Mandela was in prison, musicians all over the world sang anti apartheid songs demanding the release of Mandela from prison. There are songs that talk about the ill in the society; there are songs that are love poems.
There are songs that celebrate the greatness of one’s nation such as “The stars spangled banner” which celebrates the American flag and nation. These songs are secular but good. Unfortunately, people seem to have narrowed their minds to the pervert lyrics and visuals we see these days that celebrate corrupt sexuality, nudity and unwholesome material gains.
However, for me secular music is a No, No. My songs have a central theme, which is Jesus: His praise, His worship, His power and His coming.
But if the opportunity arises will you reject it?
An outright yes! Anything other than song to worship God I will totally reject it without thinking twice.
Some people say gospel music is a ministry not an industry, what’s your take on this?
Gospel music is both a ministry and an industry. A ministry in the sense that it has to do with worship through music of God and His power. It also serves as a means of ministering to the needs of people or the body of Christ spiritually. However it is also an industry because it involves huge capital in the production and the promotion of this work of art or venture.
Having spent so much, the artist expects to make some little gains from his work so there is a business angle to gospel music. This business angle is what we refer to as the gospel music industry. One is expected to have some measure of the workings of how this industry works or some form of business intelligence to really make headway.
There are marketing strategies to be put in place else one will invest heavily and come out with nothing. This may lead to frustration for the artist. So in as much as gospel music is a ministry, it is also an industry because capital is invested and returns are expected.
Is gospel music as lucrative as other genres of music?
In my opinion, I will say that making it in any industry is a function of quality and promotion. The reason it appears as if secular music is more lucrative is because of the acceptability based on the fact that much money is spent to bring out outputs of high-quality. For instance, if you compare the quality of videos produced by secular artists with the quality produced by gospel artists, you will find out that the secular artists or videos surpass the gospel in quality and standard. As a result, people rather watch or buy a secular video than gospel video.
In terms of audio production, the secular artists seems to use good studios and producers sparing no expense compared to gospel artists who would rather use any studio just to pass their message at any cost thereby compromising quality. People will naturally want to listen to good songs than lesser quality songs.
In terms of promotion, record labels prefer to sign secular artists and many of these artists get endorsement deals from corporate organisations which give them access to more funds to further enhance their music.
Is it possible to do gospel music without being born-again?
Yes. There are a lot of people who sing gospel who do not have a relationship with God; they only know Him by the letter and they can write songs based on that and use their skills, but they may not have a relationship with the master.
What is your relationship with other gospel music?
I enjoy a cordial relationship with my colleagues and some of them have been quite helpful and encouraging. I see us as members of one body and one fold jointly exalting our Master. For me, it is not a competition; we complement each other.
Where do you want to see yourself in the next five years?
By the grace of almighty God, I plan to have a tour in major nations of the world taking my brand of music to them.
So, which of your songs would you say brought you to limelight, why?
‘Iba!’ Iba is an unusual song. It’s a hybrid of Yoruba traditional dance and rock music. The rich Yoruba panegyric and eulogy has endeared the song to a lot of worshippers.
Which musician would you like to feature with?
The living legend Maama Bola Are is top on my list. I currently have a track with Biyi Samuel titled ‘KI’. It was such a beautiful and encouraging experience working with him. However, I see possible collaborations with Mercy Chinwo, Nathaniel Bassey, Chioma Jesus, Lara George, to mention but a few.
Is there discrimination in the industry you would like to correct?
How many of us pray for our fellow artists when they are ministering? I have discovered that most times fellow artists see this thing as a competition and secretly or indirectly wish the other party to fail. This is one major reason why there is no more power in the gospel music ministry. You find fellow invited guest Ministers sitting down while another minister is ministering or snubbing one another when they meet at events. We need to change our attitude as gospel music ministers towards each other most importantly.