In the last few months, I have met and spoken with a few Music Directors, who were once ordinary musicians or vocalists, who have now risen to this heavenly position, due to ability, experience or service to their various ministries. For once, i was able to do a general personal assessment of who they really are, and their contributions to the further growth of the Music Ministry.
My Verdict: Most have no clue about the responsibility of the office of MUSIC DIRECTOR, while others play god in an almost mafia-like environment, compromising the future of the truly talented or gifted musician or vocalist. The good ones are too few to make a significant and lasting change.
I will try to make this personal to me, so that no other person can be implicated when they decide to come for my head for writing the truth. Funny as it may seem, i do believe these people are too poor minded to see any positives to take away from this article, and will still do what they most. Who am i to complain if they did it to Jesus Christ our Lord and saviour.
I have been one for a long time that has blamed the church for the lack of growth and development within the gospel music ministry. I have had major disagreements over two decades with Pastors on several continents on these same issues –
1. Lack of platforms for gospel artistes
2. Ridiculous payments (honourarium) to gospel artistes
3. No training, education, empowerment or personal growth platforms for these musicians and artistes that the church utilises their gifts daily, etc
But now I realise that the MUSIC DIRECTOR / MUSIC PASTOR is equally responsible, if not more, for all these failings.
Why!!! Let us use my case as a scenario. I am planning to host the 2017 AFRICAN MUSIC MINISTERS CONFERENCE between June 16th – 17th, here in Lagos Nigeria. In the last 4 months, we have approached a lot of music pastors / directors, and most are nonchalant about the opportunity for their wards (choir members) to be better or participate in the empowering program. They pass you from pillar to post, while some even ignore your calls and letters completely. Others focus more on the ‘financial value’ they claim i want to make, yet have never hosted a ‘first class’ event in their life before, especially with their own personal money, to even know what financial commitments need to be covered to even breakeven. Mind you, i have been doing events both in the United Kingdom and Nigerian now for almost 2 decades, and i have NEVER broken even (got my invested personal money back).
Where am i going with this? The true questions we should be asking ourselves is WHO IS A MUSIC PASTOR / DIRECTOR, AND WHAT ARE HIS RESPONSIBILITIES? Here are a couple of questions i will love for you to answer. Should my Music Pastor / Director be responsible for my –
1. Spiritual Life (Helping me grow deeper in the word)
2. Counsellor – (Be a guide for my way of life and set an example that i will follow)
3. Administrator – (My go to person when it comes to the administration of the entire music department)
4. My Gift and its growth – (As a singer, under his counsel, shouldn’t i get better vocally, attend training and empowerment platforms, assume more responsibility and eventually, be able to set out into a similar role transferring this knowledge to others)
5. Father / Mother – (My confidant if i choose to seek guidance, give the care and love required to make me stronger, etc)
Is this who you are as a music pastor or director? Then show me who you have helped (WHO YOU EPP?). Which gospel artist has flourished within your church or outside your church that you personally promoted, supported or impacted? In an article written by Isaiah Olumati, titled ‘You cannot exactly teach or give what you do not have’ – he explained the value creation and generational succession plan of the secular artistes simply as follows:
1. Audu Maikori (Chocolate City) signed M.I, Ice Prince, Brymo, Nosa, Jesse Jags, Victoria Kimani, now M.I is releasing new artistes who have learned from this process.
2. Banky W (EME) signed Wizkid, Skales, Niyola. Now Wizkid Signed Mr Easi, etc.
3. Don Jazzy (Mavin) and D’Banj (Mo’Hits). Mo’Hits signed Wande Coal, Dr SID, D’Prince and Kswitch. Mavin signed Tiwa Savage, then in the second generation signed B-list artistes Raekado Banks, Korede Bello and D’ja, who are now A-list. Now Don Jazzy has signed a third generation – Poe, DNA, Johnny Drille, using the same platform.
Well if you say we are not secular artistes, and are gospel artistes, YES i agree with you. So let us look at the only three (3) success stories we have or can acknowledge:
1. Pastor Chris Oyakhilome (Christ Embassy) started with Buchi, Chris Shalom, Samsong, Sinach, Isaiah Samson, Obi Shine, Deacon Raph, Eben, Jahdiel. The second generation are Frank Edwards, Joe Praize, Sophiya, Ayo Vincent, Ada Ehi, Charmaine, Martin Phike (South Africa), Assent Tweed, T-Sharp. The Third Generation are Rap-Nation (11 artistes), Eli J, Pastor Saki, Israel Strong, etc. The list is too long, but you would have heard of at least 90% of these names, if not booked them personally for your events.
2. Mike Abdul (Spaghetti Records) – A member of Midnight Crew for over 10 years. Second generation – He signed himself as Mike Abdul, and Monique. Third generation – A’Dam.
3. Late Pastor Eskor Mfon – Nathaniel Bassey
Please can you mention any other person or persons who have successfully transformed the life of a choir member to a leading music minister, using their position as Pastor of Music or Music Director? Can you name any leading gospel artist, referred to as an elder, who has brought up a new artist or music minister? I am not talking about people who have been their back-up artistes, who left to start on their own. I mean ministers that were sent out or signed by these elders, who have been fruitful in their calling?
The Experience, is a brilliant platform for the gifted artistes, but does not feature mostly up-and-coming artist, only established ones. So they cannot fall into this category.
Some of the biggest ministries in Nigeria have unqualified Music Pastors and Music Directors, both in education and mind, and have destroyed the prospects of amazingly gifted people to become Soul and Grammy Winners. Yet they sit in ignorance and are happy that they hampered somebody else’s dream. I personally know of several music ministers who have served for 15 years or more, who have had to run with their families to America, UK, UAE, etc just so that they can find other means to provide for their families. Yet your ministry has over 120 million followers worldwide, or a Million within Nigeria! Yet in the bible, even Jesus Christ says in Matthew 9:37 – “THE HARVEST IS PLENTY, YET THE LABOURERS FEW”. You as the Music Pastor / Director of your church are a direct threat to the Word of God based on this passage, because you hinder it, don’t develop it, and in some cases kill it.
So, if we are to look at your life as a music director or music pastor, and assess it based on all these qualities, you would have failed. You would be considered cowardly in your responsibilities of walking up to your Pastor, who has rightly appointed you to the position, to say you need finances to TRAIN your people, to buy them uniforms, get them better salaries, better equipment, create more platforms where the entire choir and intending gospel artistes can prosper, call for prayer meetings within the music team, and just be a beautiful human being and call to ask how they and their families are doing. Is this too much to ask? If you don’t know your job, please quit. Don’t be a Donald Trump, a third world type leader in a developed country, an Okada rider in the driving seat of a ferrari.
To the choir members, up-and-coming artistes, and anyone who will like to be a music minister, i will like to direct you to a bible verse, which is the cornerstone of the African Music Ministers Conference. Its Proverbs 4: 7 – Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. The Word of God, plus your gift, plus education and inspiration on how to better that gift and to use it excellently well, are the major elements you need to be a soul-winner. This is why we do GOSPEL MUSIC.
My name has been discussed and abused in several whatsapp platforms, meetings, phone calls, etc, by leaders or elders of organisations that should be responsible for the unity of Christians. Some have falsely tried to soil my integrity, while others have claimed i used their names to want to push my events. Ok!!! Lets for the fun of it assume that you are correct, what exactly is your action meant to achieve? Is it winning souls, or causing additional doubts as your capability as a leader? Have you approached me as the ‘elder’ you are, to try to correct me as a person, or even listen to my opinions? Have you looked at what the objectives of this conference is for your choir, and see the possibilities of growth and development it presents? Will you rather destroy thousands of lives or delay their development because i am involved in your personal bias? Will you deny your choir members and entire church of the opportunity of a life time, that assembles over 60 – 70 of the best facilitators in every aspect of music ministry in the world, because you have an issue? Well, if you only knew what God sent me here to do, you will understand that HIS Word will be fulfilled, with or without you (i am smiling). Great Leaders always put the best interest of their constituents ahead of their personal views.
To everyone out there, Don’t let anyone play God over your life. Don’t let anyone restrict you for fulfilling destiny. SEEK UNDERSTANDING. God Bless You.
The views expressed in this write-up are totally my personal views. If i have offended you in anyway, anyway at all, the third mainland bridge is there, JUMP.
I will be discussing more about this at the 2017 AFRICAN MUSIC MINISTERS CONFERENCE this June (www.AfricanMusicConference.com.ng). It will be EXPLOSIVE, trust me. REGISTER NOW.
Written by: Mr Bola Mogaji (Mr B)