DON’T CALL US GOSPEL ARTISTES – BOUQUI, DEKUNLE FUJI, SEGUN OBE
His new album No Problem (No Lele) may be filled with gospel songs and messages and he may be busy wining and dining with gospel artistes, but Michael Adekunle Oloyede better known as Dekunle
‘Can I quote you?’ asked the reporter.
‘Yes of course’, he said. ‘After all, there are Christians who are bankers, why don’t we call them gospel bankers?’
It is interesting that since the past few months, there have been attempts by some of ’s finest gospel artistes to redirect their public images. Rather than being seen as ‘gospel’, they’d rather be perceived as Christians playing a particular type of music. Dekunle is not alone in this group. Rapper Bouqui who worships with Daystar Christian Church continues to insist she’s a Christian who happens to be a rapper. Same for Segun Obe who sources say is completely overhauling his image, seeking to appeal to a wider audience instead of conventional church-goers alone.
The idea, say pundits, is ‘to make sure the message reaches the real targets – those outside the church who need to be saved’.
‘If everybody keeps seeing us as gospel and we are restricted to the church, where most people are believed to have heard about Jesus, how are we the supposed to win more souls? We should be the ones playing the biggest concerts, jamming with so-called secular artistes and competing with them for fans’ said a top gospel artiste who begged for anonymity. He admits he’s already working on a formula that’ll stop fans from seeing him as ‘gospel’.
If the formula works, many more ‘gospel’ acts may join the rush to dump the toga. For, most awards have very few categories for ‘gospel’ music, despite the genre having a huge market across the country. Then most radio stations only deem it fit to play overtly gospel songs on Sundays, the general worship day for Christians – a trend which is still better than the situation in the US where most gospel acts don’t even get any radio airplay. Best-selling rapper has admitted he did the song ‘Jesus Walks’ because he discovered most songs with ‘Jesus’ on them never get played on American radio. He broke the jinx, joining performers like Kirk Franklin (who continues to blur the lines between secular and gospel) and Mary Mary in defying an unwritten tradition.
In , all these may change even faster if, for example the next Sammie Okposo song wears a pop garb and can easily fit in the same category with, say, a new cut from D’Banj during a mainstream music awards. Or Psquare hitting the studios with Kenny St. Brown for a new song MTV base will find difficult to resist.
But the likes of Jeremiah Gyang and Infinity have already crossed that hurdle. Gyang (otherwise known as Callen), a tremendously gifted singer-producer has everyone-Christians, Muslims and non-believers- singing along to his hit ‘Na ba ka’, most times forgetting to remember the song and its singer are actually on a mission to ‘win souls for Christ’. Same for Infinity, who literally enslaved the entire nation in 2006 with their ground-breaking song and video ‘Olori Oko’.