Up and coming gospel artiste, Iyabo Ikekhuah, in this interview with Saturday Beats speaks on her music career
Have you always known you would become a singer?
I hear people say they started singing since when they were young, but I think I started mine from my mother’s womb (laughs). My mum was a teacher and she was in the adult choir while I was in the children choir in the Christ Apostolic Church. I think that was when I really developed the interest in singing. So, when I told my family members that I was working on my album, they were not surprised. They said “finally”. I have always loved singing and it has always been a part of me. Lately, I decided to go into it fully, to the glory of God.
You had the option of choosing other genres, why did you choose gospel?
When I went into the studio, I told the people I worked with that the project is not mine, but God’s project. ‘God told me to sing’ is different from ‘I want to sing.’ As a matter of fact, when I started composing my songs, that was when I realised that the vision is of God. My foray into music is basically a product of God’s calling.
Are you likely to consider other genres over time?
No, I won’t. I will remain in gospel to the glory of God.
Gospel music in Nigeria is not as popular and rewarding like other genres, how do you hope to break even with it?
I believe that with God on my side and with the wonderful friends and family that I have, we are moving forward. In my album, I tried as much as possible to make everybody flow with the songs. We have dancehall songs that still convey the message of Christ, because sometimes, people prefer the secular songs because of the beat. So, the beat is there. I have reggae, worship, etc. It takes care of everybody, such that what they are looking for in those secular songs they would find in the album. There are some worship songs without beat and the messages are very powerful. So, it depends on individuals. As long as you are sending a message, whether it is gospel or secular, people would like it. The message is what I’m concerned about; what we want people to learn from what we sing. So, the lyrics are very powerful, they comfort the soul and they are the manifestation of what God has done in my life. People say gospel is not as lucrative as hip hop, but it depends on individuals. God said he would bless me through my handwork. The money would come as I hope to be blessed in what I’m doing, but that is not the priority now.
There are already some established artistes in gospel music. How do you hope to make your voice heard from among them?
I’m not scared and I’m not out there to compete with anybody. I’m only doing what God has told me to do and I know that I will be fulfilled. I thank God for where they are, and I know that with time, I will get there. For me, it’s not a competition. This is not where I was last year; I see it as a gradual process. If I have an opportunity to work with them, I would be glad because they have been there. It will be an opportunity to learn from them.
How many songs do you have now?
I have five and they are in an album. We have launched the album and it has been a good beginning for me.
What has the reception been like?
It has been very wonderful. Beyond my friends and immediate family members, it’s been enjoying some patronage. I get messages through the social media. Before now, I didn’t have people following me on the social media unlike now. I now have people who believe in me and I’m happy. I’ve been to churches too and they like my song. It assures me that God is really working for me. Life is a learning process.
Would you adopt a stage name or you would rather stick to your name?
In 2004, I was in a band and I had a name then, but these days, I discover that for acceptance, people have preference for my real name. So, for now, I want to go with my name.
Why do you think people don’t buy into gospel music?
I really don’t know, because in my own house, I’m not a lover of secular songs, maybe because of the lyrics, which are sometimes not pleasant. Perhaps, some people see gospel songs as boring and I don’t think they are. Someone could be inspired by God to sing a particular song. I think churches should help too; they should come together and appreciate the gospel singers. Some people get frustrated because they are not appreciated by the church. I think we should do away with destructive criticism.
Are you hoping to bring anything new into gospel music?
My album is like an answer to this question. If you listen to some of the songs, you could think it’s a secular song, but when you listen to the lyrics, you would find the message helpful. Even Muslims could listen to it.
Do you think the criticism of gospel singers by Christians has killed the chances of survival of some of these artistes?
It is very possible. I discover that if you are not well focused, you could get discouraged. It almost affected me but I thank God. I believe we can always make it if we are patient, if we persevere and we have faith in God.