GOSPEL ARTISTES DON’T SING PRAISE---SAMMY OKPOSO
Sammy Okposo, one of the most popular gospel music acts in Nigeria, in this interview, speaks about himself and the gospel music industry
Q: Sammy, what has been happening to you lately?
A: Basically, I have been promoting my new album, No More Drama. I am sure you have seen the video out there, the one I shot in South Africa on 35mm celluloid. I released the audio last year, so there is no point releasing another one this year because I discovered that artistes don't spend time promoting new works before releasing another one. Most times, you will see an album that has 10 tracks with one video or, at least two, before releasing another one. So, I said to myself that I will shoot the video of every track to promote the album for one and half years, before thinking of bringing a new album into the market.
Q: Why the title No More Drama?
A: As a gospel artiste, I noticed, especially, that we have been relegated to the background. But I always say no to that because gospel is a brand of music, the same way you have hip hop, fuji, jazz and others. I am one gospel artiste that has been able to break beyond the borders of the church. You know, if you hear drama, you will think it is make-believe, but I said, as gospel artistes, we are not playing the second fiddle any more. It is time for the real thing. Gospel music has to be recognised in the forefront of the entertainment industry and if you listen to this album, you will agree with me that it is totally different from what I have been doing before. So, it is time for real business.
Q: What is the response of people to the album?
A: It has been surprising, the response has been very good and because of that, I have been able to take the album to concerts in London, South Africa, America and the response has been encouraging. I spent about one year recording this album and I used the best equipment for it.
Q: Considering the efforts and money you have spent on the album, do you think you can get the money back?
A: For me, I believe music never dies. I will use Lagbaja's Konko Below as an example. Ppeople began to know more about the song when the video was released and the album became a hit two years after. I'm not just doing this because I want to make money, the entertainment industry does not work like that. There are times you spend a lot of money promoting an album and you don't make a hit. But you don't have to stop because it is a passion, it is a life-style for me. I believe that good work will always speak for you, no matter how long it takes. You may not make the money, but people who know good work when they see it, when it is time for people to mention the names of people who do good music, your name will be included.
Q: Unlike others, you have been able to sing gospel strictly. What is your driving force?
A: If you listen to this new album, I have a lot of love songs because I noticed that when I perform at a wedding as an artiste and it's time for the bride and groom to dance, they will bring a CD of a love song they love to dance to, so we will go on break for that moment. What is wrong in recording a love song that doesn't have any obscene or crazy lyrics? Sing about love for what it is, make it a wedding song. For instance, Tosin Martins' song, Olomi, has broken all barriers. It is being used in churches and other events. So, I have songs like that in this album. Apart from that, I also have a song on HIV/AIDS, world peace and all that, but my message is gospel. For me, I think people should not come into gospel because church music is selling. I started playing the piano at the age of 10 in the church and from there, I moved to the junior and senior choirs. Gospel music is part of me and it is what I have passion for, that is why you won't see me doing something different from it.
Q: Do you sing people's praises, especially at parties?
A: I don't, but, just take for instance, if somebody is celebrating 50th birthday and the celebrant wants to dance, while doing my song, I may decide, just for a moment, to mention the celebrant's name and that is all. I won't ask my manager to go and take the list of all the dignitaries and begin to hail them so that they will spray me money. I don't do it.
Q: Are you saying it is wrong for gospel artistes to sing people's praises?
A: I don't think it is right. I am going to judge because Yinka Ayefele is my very good friend. And a lot of people will ask, is Yinka Ayefele a gospel artiste, praise singer, inspirational singer or a tungba artiste? I have done strictly religious programmes with Yinka in churches where his presentations were strictly gospel, but when you call him for a party in Abeokuta, Ibadan or somewhere, then you will see him doing those stuffs. But for a gospel artiste, I don't think it is proper to sing people's praises.
Q: I read in a magazine recently that an actress slapped you. What went wrong?
A: Na wa o. It is a serious matter. There was nothing like that. It is sad sometimes when you read things that are not true about you in the press. I even called the actress that was reported in the story and asked if she slapped me in a dream. That particular actress does not even have violence in her veins, so there was nothing like that.
Q: So who is the woman in your life now?
A: It is an invincible woman. I'm not going to talk about that, at least for now.
Q: How is your daughter doing?
A: She is doing fine. She is 15 now, a big girl. I'm even planning to buy knives an dagger to chase guys away from her.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am working on an anti-419 concert with Ade Bendel, who was released from prison recently. The purpose of the event is to sensitise the younger generations to desist from yahoo-yahoo and other fraudulent acts. We want to let them know the need to use their energies and brain in a positive way that the society will benefit from. The concert is taking place at Eleko Beach on Easter Monday, thereafter,we will take it out of Lagos.