Ways Gospel And Reggae Music Can Regain Prominence ,By Gabriel Omonhinmin

For so many years now, I have been very worried, disturbed and  irritated about the death of good music produced especially in  Nigeria. Hard hit is the gospel and reggae music. The few artists,  that have recently attempted to play this brand of music, end up  making a huge mess of it. It got to a point that I was almost giving  up  on the prospect of having quality Nigerian musicians again, when the  likes of Innocent Idibia aka 2Face, Favour, Davido and Timi just to  mention a few, surfaced on the music scene . My lost hope was once  again restored.

I have, however, kept asking, is it that, this group of artists  (gospel and reggae musicians) have lost focus or are they no longer  having the required inspiration(s), what is the role of musical  companies in all this decay, my resolve to think through this problem,  brought about this piece.

Inspiration, according to Free Dictionary, is “divine guidance or  influence exerted directly on a human mind or soul”. It is also “a  process that takes place when we see or hear, that causes us to have  exciting new ideas or make us want to create, especially in the areas  of art, music or literature.”

Therefore, inspirational music does all these wonderful things to our  minds and souls, especially to most people, who listen to this class  of music. One man I know, who writes, with music on the background is  Prince Tony Momoh, Nigeria’s former Minister of Information and  Culture. The making of gospel and reggae even secular music requires  lot of hard work, dedication and inspiration. Once this is  successfully done, it brings about the excitement of the mind or  emotions to a high level of feeling or activity to the listener.

It is not a surprise, that quality gospel and reggae music, not only  bring about, intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention to  most people who listen to this brand of music. Great souls like  Mahalia Jacksons, Yolanda Adams, Shirley Casear, CeCe Winans, Andrae  Crouch, Donnie McClurkin, Whitney Houston, Don Moen, Amy Grant, BeBe  Winans, Marvin Winans, Kim Burrel, Smokie Norful, Rev. James  Cleveland, Karem Clark Sheard, Aretha Franklin, and J.Mos and  other  too numerous to mention here have done justice to this ginnery of  music.

In the reggae category, great minds like Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff,  Petter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Ziggy Marley, Buju Banton, Jah Cure,  Bounty Killer, Freddie McGregor, Lucky Dube, Collie Buddz, Mr. Vegas  and our own Majek Fashek, Oris Wiliki, Buchi of “It Is Well In The  Name of Jesus” fame, Tope Alabi and Ras Kimono have all played their  part, and some of them are still working, helping to create  inspirational music.

The quality that is common to these groups of musicians, is the fact  that they are “people who think of themselves as part of a noble elite  of truth-seekers and secular priests.” They are purveyors of the  intangible commodity called ‘news’. And news, in Marr’s words, is “a  kind of self-regenerating yet timid natural resource…(some) mental  fruit which must be gathered and collected by highly trained people  using their voices, instruments and other items to make inspirational  music.

There are therefore, rules guiding the making or production of gospel  and reggae music.

First, you must know to whom you are singing praises. In Psalm 47:7 it  says “For God is the King of all the earth sings to him a psalm of  praise”. The literary meaning of Psalm therefore, is sensible and understandable utterances. Sadly today, most gospel and reggae  musicians have lost the understanding of the type of music they are  expected to play.

For any of these groups of artist to succeed, or to be able to come up  with the type of music and kind of lyrics expected of them, they must  know how to sing praises to God, who created them and us. Singing with  reverence, strength, passion, emotions and with purpose, is a panacea  to being a great and successful gospel and reggae artist.

A successful gospel and reggae artist must know how to sing musically,  a good example of one classical gospel music is the one entitled, “You Got the Whole World in Your Hands”. Bob Marley has so many classics, which musicians need to carefully study. In those classics, such as

The Sun Is Shining, Thank You Lord, Natural Mystic, Mr. Chatterbox, Try Me, Nice Time, Screw Faces, Long Long Winter, Hammer, Don’t Rock  My Boat, How Many Times, Hypocrites Make Up, Put It On, Mr. Brown, Soul Shakedown Party, All In One, Do It Twice, No Sympathy, Keep on  Moving, Soul Captives, Satisfy My Soul Jah Jah, Get Tell It On The  Mountain, Adam and Eve and Soul Rebel Bob clearly shows in all these classics that a good artist verbalization is clear, if he or she must  make a huge success out of his musical career. A good gospel and  reggae musician is always conscious of one single fact; his or her  ultimate listener is no other person, than God Almighty. His best is  therefore expected and required. And as such, he or she must be in the  spirit while putting finishing touches to works in the studio. And  finally, gospel and reggae artist must be ready to praise God with all  that they have got, be it emotion and exotic praises.

For all these efforts to be realized, the artist must be ready to  invest great resources and energy in his chosen career, once these  standards are met, and adhered to religiously, what follow is a “bang”  then success is always assured. I saw Majek Fashek followed these  rules in Tabansi Studio in Oregun, Lagos before the coming of “Send  Down The Rain”. I saw Odion Oroje, Chris Ajilo, Tony Okoroji, Laolu  Akins and my late uncle, Sonny Okosun, worked hard in the studios as  producers. All what it takes is hard work.

Why must a gospel and reggae artist sing praises? They sing praises,  because they know and realize that it is only God that deserves their  praises. They are also aware that God demands and commands as a matter  of fact, the songs of praise. All humans owe it, as a debt, to give  God his due recognition. We must therefore, continually appreciate  him. We have no other option, than to give God the recognition, to  show our affection to him, and in the process challenge him to do more  for us. As expected, he will show that his mercies endure forever.

Above all other considerations, we are created to Praise God and God  only. Isaiah 43:21 says, “The people I formed for myself that they may  proclaim my praise.” Psalm 103 is also very clear about this; we  should not forget all his benefits.

From the above reasoning, it is a common sense for us to praise God  always. Psalm 119:164 states, “Seven times a day I praise you for your  righteous laws”. We are therefore expected to praise God, in  affluence, poverty, in trouble and out of troubles.

The benefits of all these are unquantifiable in that we are  spiritually rewarded, mentally and physically happy. We also gain  inexplicable inner-strength and materially rewarded. So, stay out of  hard drugs, play the role expected of you diligently, and you will  surely be rewarded as a gospel and reggae musician.

Mr. Omonhinmin is a Lagos based Media Consultant.

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