‘Gospel music has taken us all over the world’
Evangelist (Dr)Bisi Alawiye-Aluko (JP) who recently marked her 51st birthday, has about 18 albums. In this interview with her husband, Evangelist Temitayo Aluko (JP), on behalf of the family, he berated the level of division among the gospel musicians, and advised the upcoming gospel artistes to be focused and look up to God for success. He spoke with Olusola Alatise, Mary Agidi and Bamidele Kolawole. Excerpts.
Your wife recently clocked 51, how do you feel?
Life they said is not a bed of roses, growing up cannot be devoid of ups and downs of life, but in it all we still have cause to glorify God because if it’s not by his grace, we wouldn’t have come this far. The age amounts nothing but we are celebrating grace.
Among all the albums of your wife, which one do you value most?
Everyone of it, because it takes a lot of dedication, inspiration, a lot of time and energy to produce one, so if you are placing one above others, it means you are not appreciating what it cost you to produce others. Everyone of them have one story or the other attached to it and that makes them memorable.
You wife no doubt is talented, is it by training, hereditary or by calling?
It is by calling. But it has a little bit of heredity because her father was a singer and her mother was a choir mistress , my dad too was a choir master. But it is mostly by calling.
At what year did she start her music career?
The first album was released in 1999, that was 19 years ago.
Before you got to this level of great achievement, do you initially found her calling challenging?
It was challenging because by the virtue of what we learned in school, music was not part of our training, I studied Architecture, she studied Accounting. It’s just a parallel thing compared to what we learned in school but because it’s a call, we don’t have a choice but to do it as long as God is there for us.
Your wife’s brand of music is unique. What is the secret behind this?
The secret is God, one thing I cherish about life and which I have been telling people is that when you run with the man it becomes a race but when you run with God it becomes grace. So this whole thing is God at work, whatever you have seen, whether the music aspect, the dance, the dexterity is still God at work because if God is taken out of it, it becomes nothing.
How do you cope with public criticism as you are always with your wife singing?
If you want to go far, go together but if you want to go fast you move alone. The whole scenario is just beyond human comprehension. When you begin to listen to man, that means you are loosing concentration from the one who has ordained you. When you listen to the noise of the market you will not achieve anything.
Some started well on this journey but along the way they derailed. Why do you think this is so?
The Bible says that he who is standing should not make mockery of those who have fallen and be watchful of his steps so that he won’t fall also. If anybody has fallen along the line it doesn’t mean God is not there, the Bible says, in the world you will face tribulation, but be of good cheers. Some deviate because in their time of trial and turmoil, they missed the road. But that doesn’t mean God cannot call them back. Once you have your challenges you might not be able to handle it well. But once you go back to God, He is ever willing and faithful to bring you back home just like the prodigal son.
Is music profitable?
It depends on the perspective from which you are looking at it. Let me put it this way, there is nothing in this world that is not profitable even the Bible says the gift of a man will make way for him. So whatever you are doing and you have God’s backing, definitely you will make a headway and since you are making headway that makes it profitable. If you say you are a musician and you are not making it, then check yourself.
It is on record that you have spent 19 years on stage, what have been your challenges so far?
Searching for what the fans will appreciate is the number one headache of any artist, that is a challenge on its own you will be thinking of what to sing so that the fans will not be bored.
While others are sleeping, you would not sleep, you have to pray, think, you have to work, you have to reason, or else you will became stereotypic and that is not going to help you. so you have to think of what will bring out something new to hear from you. On a most serious note, even if you are a lecturer, if you are a writer, if you are anything you need to find time to always renew yourself so that you will be fresh. every now and then, people will always see newness in you.
Your level of achievement in this musical journey, do you owe it to anybody out there?
Whatever success you have attained, if you owe it to yourself, it is no longer a success, that is self adulation, that is pride. Whatever we have made so far even if it one naira, it is from God; God as bottom line, God as centre point, God is the head. He says I will bless thee. Blessing is a prerogative of God. He choose to bless whom he chooses to, so if he has blessed you, you don’t have choice but to return it back to him because he owns all the glory. Isaiah 42:8 says that I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another neither my praise to graven images, so that settles it.
Who is your role model?
In the music world, we have a lot of them. If we begin to mention names, we may offend some people. But when you talk of legendary people you look up to, the likes of mama Bola Are, Baba Ayewa, Baba Ojo Ade. These are old people that are doing well, so you don’t have a choice than to look at them, use their lives to evaluate yours, place yourself on a scale, ask yourself “am I doing it in their own way? Am I going to end it the way they are doing it? So that is a kind of check and balance that is going to help you to weigh yourself and see where you are.
There is a kind of division between the gospel musicians, we have Goman and Rican…….
That is where the gospel have problem now. The Bible says “a house divided against himself will never stand”. That is where we have problem. See, if we are really working for the same master which is Jesus Christ, you don’t have a choice. You cannot divide yourself, once you are dividing yourself it means either you are not sure whom you are serving or probably we are running after material gain. If it is for the Lord, you have to reason that we are working for the same master and our aim is to depopulate the kingdom of darkness. But why are we dividing our selves? We preach one gospel. Or by any chance, is the gospel two? We have only one gospel. Go ye into the world and preach the gospel. “So why are you divided? I will just advise our people to go back to God and mend their ways so that we can forge ahead.
How are you coping combining marriage with your music career?
What I have learnt over time is as easy as waking up, brushing your teeth and eating your breakfast. Once is in charge of God , or God is the head , you don’t have problem, yours is to act as a melodramatic, it has been ordained by God, I see it as a natural part of life.
Since you have been singing how far have you travelled?
To the glory of God. Let me put it this way, there is no continent in the world that we have not been to.
What have you been able to achieve with that?
Your fans base will determine, you will begin to see things at the last 10 years I have 10,000 people following my music but now I can boost of 200,000. That tells you, you are doing something, people are accepting you on more broader scale compared to the way it used to be.
Your advice to upcoming gospel artistes?
Look unto God as the author and finisher of our faith at all time. It doesn’t matter what other thing you are doing, don’t join multitude to do evil, stay focus, look at he who has commissioned you. There is a reason for every commissioning, stay focused, look unto God because at the end of it all, you are going to give account for everything you do.
Do you have a way or a foundation through which you give back to the society?
Presently, we are giving back in our little way but we are looking at probably within the next few months to set up NGO to cater for people who are struggling, we don’t have a choice than to give back to the society. When you make it, you must impact lives. I remember when we were growing, things were not easy but here we are today, if we can give back to other people life will be better for all.
We don’t have to wait for the government. As Christians whatever money we are making, we should can begin to inject a bit of it into the system so that people benefit.
What is your goal/ mission?
Jesus says come to me everybody. You don’t discriminate, no nepotism, no partiality. Everybody have to be one, equal, because that is what the scripture teaches us. You don’t look down on anybody at all, you just have to embrace every other person. You have to show them love. If you want to win a drunkard, you have to make him understand that “you are a human, that you are alcoholic does not make you less human, let us be friends” . Then, you begin to talk to him. When you do that, they would listen.
How do you promote your Cds?
We have distributors, we have marketers here and there, we have outlets overseas, we have booking offices overseas, we are trying to make it easy for everyone to have access to us.
What is going on in the gospel music industry?
I will not be political, I will be sincere with myself. I can only say what I know. Things may be happening that I may not know but I know that so far what is happening is fine. We have singers here and there and we are hoping everybody is working towards one goal: depopulating the kingdom of darkness.
There is a rumour that you impregnated one of your band members. Is it true?
You see if you want to go far in life, you don’t listen to every rumour being peddled, or else you will be distracted. Being a public figure, propaganda will not be far from you. But you have to be very careful, you have to manage the problem so that you will not be distracted. Well, so far, so good, you walk to this house today, with what you see, you will see that we have one big family; a united family, if there is a crack, you would have seen that but I can tell you there is no iota of truth in the rumour.