Uchechi Mirabel Ani started singing as a child and now in the process of unveiling her new album. Also a praise and worship leader in her local assembly under the Christ Embassy Church also known as the Love World International Church, Mirabel is concerned about gospel artistes dumping the gospel music stage for secular music. According to her, it is an error. In this interview with ADEDAYO EMMANUEL, she calls for more support for gospel artistes who she says need all the encouragement to stay on in the gospel music industry. Excerpts:
How do you see gospel music in Nigeria today as against what it used to be?
Gospel music has moved on. It is not where it used to be. It is moving high daily and the quality is greater than what we used to have in the past. Gospel artistes have realised it is high time we took the gospel out of the church; it is time we reach out to the people in the streets. Gospel is for everybody, though in the society we can do more. There is no life without the gospel. The gospel has to be everywhere. We can do more in the society for gospel music. I’m glad now that things are happening. As I was driving, there is this radio station, Women FM, playing gospel on a Tuesday and it was playing on and on. I had to check which station it was. It was awesome, if more stations are doing this, it will be nice. We have to value this thing. The quality is there, it is not enough to say I am a gospel artiste, the vibe and passion must be there. Like this album, Allowed, the vibe is there, the groove is there. I see people listening to it. Gospel music has come to that level.
What is new from Mirabel?
Well, I dropped two new singles. The first is titled ‘Reliable God’ and the second is titled ‘Aloud.’ They are praise and worship songs. For me, it is a double.
What brought about the inspiration?
When it comes to Reliable God, it is a song I got in my place of prayer. All my songs are inspired by the Holy Spirit who directs my message… Reliable God is highly spiritual. Aloud is praise song with every shade, hip hop, thanksgiving with a lot of grove in it. Thinking of all the great things God has done and does.
Are gospel artistes getting enough reward and encouragement for their labour?
Gospel musicians are not yet well appreciated; they still complain. But the thing that moves us on is passion. Talents should not be taken for granted. Because it is gospel music doesn’t mean it should not be appreciated like the secular musicians. Secular musicians know we have a large platform in the church. They sometimes say we don’t utilise what we have.
There is a drift from the church to the secular stage. I mean gospel artistes often move from gospel music to secular music. Have you take notice and how can it be addressed?
It is an error! Oh Jesus! It is happening but whoever is doing that should know it is a mistake because even the secular guys wish to be in the shoes of the gospel artistes. I speak with them, the secular guys wish to be in our shoe. They want to be like us, they say we have a bigger platform and we don’t utilise what we have. They envy what we have and they want to move in and take over. They just mention God in their music a few times and it moves, but we gospel artistes don’t seem to appreciate what we have.
A few pastors and churches do appreciate gospel artistes in their folds, how has this influenced gospel music positively?
I know about Christ Embassy, what I will say is that there is a lot to be said about this. Not because Pastor Chris Oyakhilome is my pastor, but if many more men of God are paying attention to gospel music the way Christ Embassy does, things will be better for the gospel music ministers. Let others just try, if they just put effort, gospel artistes would be up there. I like to appreciate other churches and pastors trying their best. The likes of Pastor Paul Adefarasin, Pastor Fatoyinbo of COZA are good examples. If the others can encourage the gospel artistes too, things would be better. I thank God for Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. He has raised the bar for supporting gospel artistes. He started it, apart from the fact he is my pastor, before I started music as a career, I saw what I never saw. You’ll want to ask that you mean gospel artiste can be given this much of support, this more of money? That’s the level of support gospel ministers get in a place like Christ Embassy.
Should gospel artistes be paid?
I won’t call it pay because it is their passion. It is their service to the Lord. But giving something or sowing into the life of these ones is not bad. The truth is you can’t really pay for a talent or pay for the anointing on someone. You can only appreciate them and encourage them. They will be encouraged to stay on and not to divert. That is how we lose them. Let the truth be spoken, not everybody has that strong faith, not all of us can hold on. So we need to be encouraged.
The spate of suicide has been on the rise in the country so much that some Christians have even taken their lives in the past month. Can you address this in the perspective of a gospel artiste that you are?
When I came across this news I shed tears. I mean the news of the Abuja-based gospel artiste that committed suicide recently. When I heard people saying they get encouraged whenever he ministers, I felt so bad about it, hearing he did that kind of thing. That is why we need to encourage ourselves. Some of us in the church actually go out to pay to attend programs that are not gospel, but when it comes to gospel we can’t pay. You pay fees to attend secular entertainment events that have no spiritual benefit. You pay to attend a secular show; can you just pay more to attend a gospel show? You don’t know what the devil has set for you that will be averted when you encounter God in worship. You would also be blessed, destinies would change for good, evil would get averted unlike the secular one that has no spiritual benefit. We have to change. There is this gospel show by Tim Godfrey that is coming up, when people attend, they would get relieved, they would be free from whatever yoke of the devil because of the anointing. When you attend, there is no how something good will not happen to your life. You will jump, shout, get relieved.
How do you think church leaders should emulate the likes of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, Pastor Paul Adefarasin and the rest empowering gospel artistes?
Our pastors are trying, they have understating. But I will tell them to take their ministers seriously. I was trained to call them ministers. People take gospel artistes for granted, and when they speak up, you will say it is pride. It is not cheap to be in the studio, you need back up, instrumentalists, you put in your best and at the end you are not valued. It is not nice.