Ghana’s most renowned gospel musician - Pastor Joe Beecham

By Regina Ani-Awukubea, The Statesman
By Regina Ani-Awukubea, The Statesman

10/27/2008 2:04:16 PM -

One of Ghana’s most renowned gospel musicians, Pastor Joe Beecham has expressed worry about the apparent lack of supervision for musicians, especially young up and coming ones, in the management of their careers and the pressures that come with stardom.

According to Pastor Beecham, there is no system or body to check musicians when they are going astray and as a result some make unguarded statements and put up behaviours that go to tarnish the image of the music industry.

Another worrying phenomenon is the resort to the air waves and other forms of media to settle misunderstandings arising from the lyrics of the songs they play.

Disclosing these to The Saturday Statesman, Pastor Beecham noted, “in the European countries and even some parts of the African continent, musicians are coached on what to say and the kind of dress to wear before they come out but in Ghana it is different, any musician can just get up to sit on air and say what ever that comes out from his/her mouth being it profane or threatening language, they don”t bother.

When it comes to the young ones it's worse, the way they dress shabbily on stage to perform is so sad, even at big occasions.'

'I'm not saying that musicians should be taught how to run their lives but at least when it comes to ethics, there must be a proper body set up to train them because at the end of th day whatever they do or say on air brings disgrace to all musicians and affects the music industry as well', he affirmed. Pastor Joe Beecham is a powerful man of God and a musician as well.

He began his music career in 1998 with his first album 'Masem Ni', followed by ‘Agya Fakye' in 2000.

In 2002 he hit again with 'Mbre Yi' but since then he has been on the quiet. The Saturday Statesman caught him right in front of a photo studio at Kwame Nkrumah Circle last Tuesday to find out why he has been silent for this while. It's been a long time since you came onto the music scene, what have you been doing since your last album in 2002? I just wanted to take my time so that I will come out with something authentic before I come out but in 2006 I released an album in English entitled 'Alone With God' in the United States, in fact you are very lucky to meet me here because I was preparing to go back to Takoradi.

Is that where you reside now? Yes, because that is where my church is and it is the head quarters but we do have other branches across the country and the world.

Oh I see, no wonder we hardly see you in town these days. How long have you been in the ministry? I've been in the 'Holy fire ministry', that's the name of the church, for twelve years now.

So why did you release the album 'Alone with God' in London instead of your own country? This album was purely an English version so I thought it will do better there than here.

But there some English songs here that are doing well on the market? Yes I know but then the chances of the album surviving here on the market is very low, because here not every one understands the English language as compared to US but then I'm still studying the market if I can still bring it here.

Aside this, what are you working on currently? For now I'm working on a new album which is scheduled to come out early next month.

Would you like to disclose the album title and if possible brief us about it? Yes, it is titled 'The Preachers Voice'.

All my albums are very quality and interesting to listen to but I can tell you for a fact that this album is heavily loaded with good inspirational songs which touches the heart.

It has 14 tracks on the CD and 8 on the cassette and it is a blend of English and the local language-Fante.

Do you write all the songs on your own? Yes I write and produce it myself but His Majesty Production deals with the distribution side of it.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced as a gospel musician? Being a musician has so many obstacles in its way especially we the gospel artistes.

There are times that I will be recording in studio and the machines will just go off and even performing on stage is another problem because not all [the people you see] are human beings and not all are there for you, some are there just to destroy what you are doing.

So what do you do to ensure that these obstacles don't get in your way? The only key is prayers, I always pray and dedicate my albums to God before it comes out and I hope my colleagues also do the same.

Even these days it will surprise you to see a hip-life artiste or other secular artistes sending their albums to a pastor to dedicate it to God, so all must endeavour to do so because the devil is at work.

Do you see any difference in gospel music of yesterday and today? I will say there is a difference because in those days, they sang the songs to preach God's message and not necessarily the money aspect of it.

But today what do we see, it has become commercially motivated and a lot of them have joined just because they have seen there is money in it. In every gospel song, the gospel must be preached first before any thing else.

Is there anything else that you would like to add? What I will say to Ghanaians and my fellow musicians is that, politics is not a monster so they should stop criticising others who sing at political rallies because when they do that, they make people believe that it is something  dangerous and frightening that one shouldn't get closer to.

Just recently I was invited to perform at the 16th anniversary of the NPP, in the beginning I decided not to go but when I saw the other gospel artistes on the bill I accepted it because if a political party has thought it wise to invite us to thank the Lord then it means God's presence is in it, and it will surprise you to see the way God was touching people through the song that I was ministering on that day.

This shows that God works everywhere so it is high time Ghanaians understand that there is nothing strange about this.