14 July 2017

Nigeria: 'I'm Called to Sing'

interview

Nigeria-born international gospel music artiste, Ada Ogochukwu Ehi known simply as Ada, has been in the music business for a while now. Over the years she has prominently stood out as one of the few who have brought creativity and innovation to gospel music in Nigeria. The Lagos State University graduate of Chemical and Polymer Engineering recently had a preview of her breath-taking brand new musical video, 'I Overcame' to a selected media group. In this interview with Mary Ekah, she went back to how the journey began and where it has taken her

How has your stay in the gospel music industry been so far?

It has been beautiful. You know gospel music is a calling for me. It is God's business. I have been in music ever since I graduated. I graduated in 2007 and went straight into gospel music. I studied Chemical and Polymer Engineering at Lagos State University. I graduated but didn't serve because I wanted to sing so badly. I am called to sing, it is not a choice. It is something I was born to do. So it has been a journey of faith. It has been a journey of one level of glory to another. I started out with my first official single in 2009 with the album, 'Undeniable'. And in 2012/2013, we did a double disc sophomore album 'Lifted' and 'Softly' and in 2017 we are looking at the new album coming out in few weeks' time. All I can say is that the journey so far has been a story of God's grace. My story is about a lady made extraordinary by her steadfast love for Jesus Christ. And then today again, this event tagged 'Ada Meet Media', is about me meeting the media and telling them a bit of what I have been doing and what I am about to do and also to let the media have a preview of my brand new video titled, 'I Overcame' and also to announce to the world that the third studio album for Ada is on the way.

How many collections of songs do you have in your soon to be released album and what is the central theme like?

We have about 19 songs in all and the central theme is Jesus. Every song on the album talks about Jesus. I do alternative gospel pop, rock and electric dance music (EDM), but I do mostly pop music. Gospel is the theme but the style is pop. Some of the music in the yet to be released album are songs like 'Only You Jesus', 'I Testify' and many others, which were put out as singles but have gone over the world. That is the power of the Holy Ghost.

What is the inspiration behind your songs?

The inspiration and story behind my songs, 'I testify' and 'Only You' for example is that I wanted to show that everyone has a testimony, that is why we showed kids, couples, adults, so everyone has a testimony if you look closely at your life you will see the signature of God and you will testify. I also wanted something that will inspire people, joy, happiness, gratitude, togetherness. Then 'Only you Jesus 'talks about the resurrection power. The rhythm of the song is very African so we had to bring it home, trying to portray normal situations like no jobs, crisis, then how God steps in when we need him, that is the story.

How many videos are to your credit?

'I Overcame' should be like my sixth or seventh video.

Tell us more about your latest video 'I Overcame'?

'I Overcame' is a musical gospel video shot at various locations in Osun State including Erin-Ijesha Water Fall and the Obafemi Awolowo University. The video, with its concept of victory over the devil and his cohorts, can compete with many mainstream videos in the industry.

What challenge did you encounter putting together such a magnificent video?

There were lots of challenges while doing this video. There is this particular one that I won't forget in a hurry while shooting the video at the Erin-Ijesha Water Fall. During one of the scenes, the cloud that was bright suddenly became dark, threatening to rain and we were losing light. We began to pray, speaking in tongues. We noticed that one of the tour guides, an average old man, somehow was attracting the rain. My husband and one of the pastors in our team walked up to the man looked into his eyes and told him baba sorry you can't go beyond this point. He turned and left and when he left, the rain that was already drizzling stopped, and the sky was cleared again. This shows that we are not just singers but ministers called by God for his glory.

Does it bother you that most secular artistes get more endorsements than gospel artistes?

When you say secular, that's about show, popularity, money and fame while gospel is about the teaching or revelation of Christ. So we have different priorities, we are not on the same mission. It is the mission that determines the road you take to your destination. So we are not here for fame or for the money. We are not promoting Ada; we are not promoting looks or money. Our mission is soul winning and that is where we are more interested. And we are not here to get noticed or endorsements. We are here to preach through music, so if those in secular music have more endorsements it is so because that is what they are about and so they are going to go out looking for it but we are not looking for out for endorsements but if endorsement comes, praise God! Otherwise, we are on course.

Is music for you a full time job?

Yes. Music is full time for me and being a wife and a mother, I have a handful of work at home. Like before I came here I had to do revisions with my kids, get them ready for school and then do other things before coming out here.

You look beautiful and then have a very good voice so why have you chosen this path - gospel music?

I didn't choose this path. Very importantly, I'm called to do what I do because if I have five minutes of your time, I must give you something that will give you life. I want to make that five minutes make you take the right decisions that will influence your eternity, put you in the right path and create the right atmosphere for you. I love to make music that would make the presence of God tangible because when the presence of God becomes tangible, the miraculous becomes inevitable and then you can receive whatever miracle, inspiration or whatever is the drive that you need for the next move. And looking good is God's business. When you look at the sky, stars and the waterfalls in 'I Overcame' video, then you would see the signature of the Creator, you would know that indeed He is in the business of looking good. If I carry God, how do I let you know who I carry? I have to look like an emissary from Heaven. Don't you think?

Is your husband into music too?

He is generally into entertainment but he is not a musician. He works majorly for Pastor Chris Oyakhilome's Love World Music Company. My husband and I work together. He manages everything about me.

How did you meet your husband?

I am a church girl and so we met at church. I was doing church duties and after service we met. You know it is good to be committed to church duties. I met my husband because I stayed back to do some work at church after service. If I had gone home, maybe I wouldn't have met him. So it was while doing church work after service that he passed by and he was like 'hello' and I was like 'hi'. And that was how it started.

What is your take on gospel music in Nigeria? Do you think we are really where we are supposed to be?

Gospel in Nigeria is doing fantastic and if you remove the content - the gospel in it, it becomes meaningless. There is so much hurting going on in the society but there are also a lot of gospel music ministering to people to help them out of trying periods. But the thing is that the media has not paid so much attention to the impact and effect that gospel music is making in our society and that is why we are consciously reaching out to the media. You people are doing a fantastic job but you also have to pay a little more attention to what gospel music is doing - gospel music is healing, lifting, strengthening, building and also doing other fantastic and great things in human lives.

You have been in music for a while now. Can you tell us the challenges you have encountered?

The challenge we have in music is basically piracy, that is in Nigeria but the beautiful thing is that we have the digital platforms responsible for the global exposure we all have now but within the country, piracy is a big problem.

You don't have any challenge personally?

Like I said I didn't choose, I was called. So there two different things, if you chose, you have to make choices, you have to work hard to build but when you are called, you just follow.

What about funding?

That is what I am saying, when God calls you, He equips and empowers you for His work if you follow His instructions.

What was life like growing up?

I grew up surrounded by Christian music. My father had an excellent taste in music. Then I watched a lot of theatrical kind of music. I had a very long hair growing up, so the only way to get me to sit down to weave my hair was to slot in the sounds of music, so that informed my foundation. I schooled at Federal Government Girls College, Sagamu, the music there was all different. We were all girls and I was exposed to another style of music. I have a very quick mind, I pick very fast with the help of the Holy Ghost.

My parents are very well schooled, so there was a lot of English for you to learn in the house from the way they related with words. The most profound was when I came in contact with the message of Pastor Chris that changed everything. When I came in contact with the word, it changed my mind-set. Pastor Chris taught me excellence, the foundation was laid when I was a child but the excellence, I learnt from Pastor Chris is sharp.

Tell is about your first day on stage?

That was a very long time ago. I was still a child then and I went on stage with child star, Tosin Jegede. I was one of her backup vocalists then.

How do you see the trend of gospel artistes backsliding into secular music later on in life?

Well, where I stand I see a lot of gospel artists doing exceedingly well. We have the bestselling records and of course that is one of the reasons why we are here and you can notice that we actually do fantastic sales. I released the video, "Jesus" two months ago and it hit over one million views on YouTube in one month. And yet you have a lot of big secular videos struggling with three hundred thousand views in one month. God is in the business of changing lives and He is doing it every day per second. One word from God will change your life and that is why we sing. And then, Ada is just going to keep on saturating the media like she is the only one that God has created.

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