People have different motives for delving into gospel music. For some, it is fame while others go into it for fortune but for Isabella Ogo Uzodike, a London-based gospel artiste and song writer, she was called by God. In this chat with PATIENCE IVIE OBHAFUOSO, she shared her experience in the entertainment industry and her ministry in general.
What inspired you into gospel music?
First of all I love music and I sing a lot. I remember as a child, my relations and friends would ask me to sing for them because I sing always. But while growing, I noticed that each time I hear gospel songs or go to church and listened to gospel choruses, I just end up crying. So I started avoiding church because I didn't quite understand why and what was happening to me.
But as I grew older, I gave my life to the Lord (in 1996) and for the first time, I came to the understanding of what was happening to me - I have a heart of worship. It was the call of God upon my life. He has called me to worship Him and in doing that, I prompted into writing songs. I could remember writing my first song in 1996 or 1997, titled 'Hero'. I sang it in the church and everyone in church that day applauded it.
They were amazed that I wrote it and can sing as well. It took me 13 years to put up my first album titled "Lost Without You" which was released in 2009. So I would not really say it was a particular thing that inspired me into singing, it was just something in me which I understand as the call of God upon my life.
How would you rate the Nigeria gospel music industry?
I think the Nigeria gospel industry is awesome; we have talents in Nigeria. We have lots of anointed people. The spirit of excellent is at work in them. I listen to quite a number of them and I can honestly say I am proud to be a Nigerian. I would love to be identified with the Nigeria artistes because they are doing a great job.
Gospel music is not as lucrative as circular music and most artists get discouraged for that reason. How are you coping with that?
Well, I see it from a different perspective, which is not very popular but let me say it all the same. It depends on what motivates or drives you. I did not choose music because of fame or money. But for those who may have gone into gospel music for fame or money would be a bit frustrated if their expectation falls short.
When you say gospel, it automatically exclude people who are not Christians. You know, if God has called you to minister to certain people, you would not be appealing to everybody. So I don't bother myself because I am not trying to be like P-Square or 2Face. I am here with a purpose and if it is only 10 people I am able to reach out to, it is worthwhile.
As a mother and wife, how are you coping with your ministry?
I feel honoured that God has blessed me with such a wonderful man as a husband. He is not afraid to push and support me; he has always been there for me. I am also there for him as a wife but let me say this to every woman whether in the ministry or a career woman, if you are a wife, your husband is your first ministry.
Minister to your husband's need before you start ministering to the world. Minister to your children's need before you start talking to the millions of people out there because your first ministry is your family. Another thing is that, God has surrounded me with people. I have a management team that work with me and they do put everything in order.
Do I face challenges? Yes, there are days I wake and ask myself if I would be able to continue with this. Ensure that you establish and maintain good relationship with people so that when your friends' help, they can come to your aid.
How many albums have you released so far?
I have three so far. Two are cotemporary worship albums. The first one 'Lost Without You' has got 12 worship songs and the second which is 'Heaven dancing' has 12 worship songs too. I sang with my first daughter, Sharon, in the album. She is 17.
The third album was my first African gospel song which I am so excited about. It has a total of 10 songs; the most popular being 'My Tori Don Change'; 'Back To Sender'.
There is hardly any success without challenges. So what has been your major challenge?
I have a ministry with four children and so many other things to do. I just take things one day at a time. I also experience financial challenges every now and then because money is important to run the ministry. But I don't lose sleep over these things because I trust in God.
A few years ago, one of the songs I wrote 'My Source Of Strength,' was written in tears. I was weeping because I went through an experience that totally devastated me and my husband. I was so heartbroken that I began to ask God what to do in that situation. At that point, I remembered David in the bible; when he was discouraged, he encouraged himself in the Lord.
And that was what I did. When you have teenagers, you have to deal with different issues every day like every other human being. When it hits me and I feel I can't stand it anymore, I fall on my knees and that is where I get my strength from day to day.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next few years?
I hope to keep abiding in the Lord; growing from strength to strength and from grace to grace.
What advice do you have for young artistes out there?
My advice to them is stay true to themselves because the pressure in the society is much. Everybody have their opinion about what they do. People would prefer you to sing R&B, or afro- beat instead of gospel, but listen to your inner mind and do not be distracted.
If you want to be leader in the kingdom, you have to be a servant. You have to have a servant's heart and be ready to serve others. Be ready to help others and be ready to support the vision of other people because it is all about the kingdom.