Evangelist Hannah Osetoba started singing about 25 years ago, and she has four albums to her credit. In this interview with ESTHER BAKARE she spoke about how God called her into gospel music, challenges facing the industry, the role of gospel musicians to nation building among sundry issues.
How did you discover your gift of singing?
I discovered my gift through my father in the Lord, Pastor Moses Olagunju, founder of Christ Apostolic Church, Agbara Olorun Ni Gbani worldwide. I was a member of the choir in his church; I started with Ewi before I went into singing proper. I have launched about four albums; the first was in 2006 titled ‘The Mighty Power of God’. In 2008, the second was launched titled ‘Cry No More’ and in 2015 the third one titled ‘Goodness and Mercy’ was launched. The fourth one titled The Good Shepherd was also launched in 2016.
Challenges faced at the beginning
There is no way someone would want to take a step towards success that he/she will not face challenges. Even our Lord Jesus who is a role model for all of us today passed through His own Gethsemane. Therefore, there is no one in life that wants to be successful without passing through challenges. The gospel songs we sing are to win souls for Christ; this makes us to be confronted with challenges from the pit of hell. Definitely, the devil will not be happy with us because we are setting the captives free through our songs.
Who is your role model among gospel musicians?
My mother in the Lord, Dr Bola Are, the second person is Tope Alabi.
Which of your albums is most challenging?
All my albums gave me challenges but God has always given me victory.
What inspires your songs?
God is a spirit and He moves in diverse ways. I receive my songs anywhere anytime. At times I might sit down and see some animals moving together, I can receive the inspiration or in the midst of people and they behave somehow the inspiration might come or even among leaves in the forest; God inspires me in different ways.
Your first album, how did you receive the inspiration?
The song ‘Mighty Power of God’, what God told me then was that His power alone is the mighty power and that is why all creatures must worship Him alone.
What would you have loved to do if not singing?
I wanted to be a Security Agent; I went for the interview about two times and was not taken at Eleweran State CID. I was offered the employment and asked to come for an interview but God did not allow me. I also tried to go into the Medical line but God did not also allow me. Finally, I went into fashion designing and I did that for several years and even had trainees and apprentices before God called me into full time gospel music. God told me to go into full time ministry in songs but I was reluctant and He dealt with me severely.
Can you share some of the ways God dealt with you?
It was a sad experience but I thank God I have been able to overcome it. Apart from being a gospel musician, God also called me to be a field evangelist to be organising revivals and crusades from one place to another. He had been warning me through His servants to tell me to go into field evangelism and set the captives free, but I did not yield and instead I faced my fashion designing squarely. I remember one time I went to a mountain to pray and God sent one of His servants to tell me that He was angry with me and He would go violent with me and if anyone begs Him He won’t listen. True to His word, the following day I was coming back from somewhere with my last child then and our vehicle had an accident and the boy was the only one that died. Immediately, the Spirit of God told me that He had warned me but I refused to heed, that He would take away everything precious to me maybe by then I would heed the call. After the death of my son and several warnings from men of God, Pastor Moses Olagunju also called me and said God told him to warn me that after collecting everything that makes people recognise me as a human being, I would still come back to do His work; that was when I gave up everything to face the work of God.
Tell us about your marriage and ministry
I thank God for the kind of husband He gave to me. After God is my husband, he means everything to me. He has been so supportive of my ministry, he doesn’t hinder the progress of my ministry. I might leave home for one month, my husband would not complain and this made the work to be easy for me.
What are the major challenges confronting gospel musicians presently?
Marketers are not ready to sponsor gospel musicians. If we approach them for sponsorship, they would ask us to bring money for jingles on radio and television and many other things and this is quite discouraging. That slowed down my journey into music industry, as I said earlier, I have been singing since 1992 but I have not had a major breakthrough because there are no sponsors.
What is your advice to upcoming gospel artistes?
If one is called a gospel musician he/she should see himself as a living sacrifice to God because no man can receive any good thing except it comes from God and God does not dwell in a filthy place. That is why someone like Mama Bola Are is evergreen so also Evangelist Tope Alabi. Their songs are unique and very uncommon; therefore anyone called a gospel musician must be highly spiritual.
What will you say of gospel artistes that mix secular songs with their music?
One cannot trade with God and be looking elsewhere. My advice to such people is that they should remain with God; He does not owe anybody though it may take long but He will surely reward everyone that serves Him diligently. They should be patient.
Many gospel artistes usually establish churches. Are you also planning to establish one in the future?
Like I said that I am a field evangelist, evangelists are like caterpillars that clear the forests for men of God to establish their churches. But if God calls me to establish a church, I will have no choice than to obey His call but for now, He has not asked me to do so.
Can you give us an insight into your background?
I am from Imeko Yewa in Ogun State. I attended primary school at St. Peter’s Anglican School, Joga-Orile where my mother comes from. I also attended Owode Secondary School in Yewa before going into fashion designing.
Tell us your most embarrassing moment in the ministry?
You see, a refuse dumping site is the richest in manure; highly fertilizing. If we get sand from there and plant on it you will see how fresh the plant will look. The leaves will look green and the plant will grow healthy. If we look at the embarrassment we face as gospel musicians, we won’t like to go further. At times we go to perform in some places and we would trek back because nobody would pay us anything. They won’t even give us recognition and we would bear this with the mind that it is God alone that will reward us.
Why do you think people treat gospel artistes poorly whereas they offer big packages to secular musicians?
Well what we are also praying to God for is to advertise us to the world through our songs. Once God gives us a name then there will be breakthrough. All these come through the Holy Spirit and Power; once the Holy Spirit empowers one, he/she will be showcased to the world.
It is also discovered that some musicians started from the church but today they have gone into secular music, who is to blame for this?
We should blame churches for not supporting their members who are into gospel music. You can’t expect gospel musicians to produce their albums and take them to club houses to sell. Churches are supposed to support them but in a situation where there is no support from their churches, they would look elsewhere. If in a church of 500 worshippers someone produces a music album and all the members purchase a copy each, they are promoting us. I will like to advice churches to support gospel artistes in terms of promoting their music. If I hear that a gospel musician has gone astray I don’t blame them because if you look into their background, God wanted to use them but people did not give them enough encouragement. Pastors should also help their members who are talented in any way, especially those who have musical talents because God used music as we read in the Bible, to win battles like King Jehoshaphat.
Your advice to the secular musicians on the kinds of songs they should sing?
There is nothing like worldly music; all music has one message to preach and all musicians are prophets. For instance the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti was a prophet; I used to listen to his songs and I discovered that they all have one message or the other to preach so people should stop referring to some music as worldly. One of our musicians Adekunle Gold who sang a song ‘Answer My Call’, he was talking to God to make him rich like Dangote, Otedola and the rest, it’s a big message. I will only advise all musicians to see themselves as messengers of God because whatever comes out of their mouths is a message from God.
What is your advice to government on music industry?
I want government to see musicians as Godsends. In the Bible, when King Jehoshaphat was confronted with battles, God did not tell him to erect armoured tanks but he told him to select men who can sing and through their songs God won the battle for them. Look at the battle of Boko Haram, God can use gospel musicians to sing and win the battle. So also many battles confronting the country, God can defeat them through gospel songs, that is why I call on government to support gospel artistes and see what God will do for the country through them.
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