Sunday, 17 October 2010 07:47 Nigerian Compass .Evangelist Bola Are is the outgoing President of the Gospel Musicians Association of Nigeria (GOMA). She has had a career spanning over three decades, 52 albums in the market and still waxing stronger. In this interview with HAZEEZ BALOGUN, she spoke about the challenges most artistes confront, especially gospel musicians those who have become praise singers. Excerpts: We have a lot of people singing gospel music. Are they all part of GOMA?

Some of the people you see singing gospel music are very stubborn. When you call them to come and join the body for maximum right protection, they will tell you they are independent and are not interested in joining. They feel they are too free to do whatever they like. A lot of people will say they will not join the society and in the end, they mess up themselves independently. We are not going to force anybody to join the organisation. It’s a thing of choice. But some choices are meant to be made.

What is your general view about gospel artistes?
Some of them are doing the right thing while some are not. If some of them do something wrong and you tell them, they would say you are old school. As old as the Bible is, you cannot change it. When you say you are a gospel singer and you dress in a sinful way, it is not done that way. You should appear in a way that will exalt your creator.

What is your take on gospel artistes that praise people? Are they gospel singers?
Gospel Artistes who praise people are not gospel singers. Why would you be praising God and at the same time praise human beings? I don’t praise anybody. I sing to only glorify my creator who is the only reason why I am still living. Most of them do that just to make money. I don’t praise anybody. I sing to glorify the unchangeable changer.

You have reduced the way you release your songs. What is wrong?
Nothing is wrong with me o! I have four different albums, which I would drop at the same time. I have 52 albums in the market for now. Adura owuro video is coming out very soon and some other songs I have recorded. Remdel Marketers is always with me. Oore ofe is coming out at the same time. I have been releasing albums but because of the country, something you promote for N40,000 before, the tax bodies have increased the rates. This has reduced the way we release albums. But I must say at this point that we are releasing all the necessary albums. Expect a lot from me and more to come.

Some people say that you are biased in language in your albums. Is that true?
That is not true. The Ibos are not willing to cooperate. When I was the leader, I brought people from all over the country. I have done this to improve GOMA. It’s not a Yoruba thing. For my five years of being the president, a lot of things have changed. For five years, there was no recognition for GOMA. I registered GOMA and I opened the account. They came to my house to beg me to come and be the president. I did not accept the offer at first but when the pressure was increasing, I decided to ask God and He revealed to me that I should take offer.

How did God tell you?
I heard his voice. I was born with hearing the voice of the Lord clearly. It’s very natural with me. I heard for myself that I should step down for now. If God reveals to you that you should stop something, it is better you stop and obey.

Some people say you are harsh. How true is that?
Whatever they like, they should say. A lot of things would go wrong if I don’t do the right thing and correct anybody with ill motives. There was a time that a very renowned gospel singer was caught in the hotel room with another gospel singer. Take that issue for instance, it is not right. Should we fold our hands when we hear about such issues? As the president of GOMA, I am not supposed to fold my hands and let wrong things happen. If they say I am too harsh, they should come and try it too. When we encounter all these problems, we call others to come and witness. A lot of people fornicate and it’s not good for the kind of work we do.

Who are you in one word?
Mama Bola Are is a disciplinarian. For the Ekiti and the Ondo people, we don’t pretend. We hit the nail on the head. I am a woman of principles. I don’t joke with anything that would endeavour to destroy the work and principles of the almighty God. Why would a gospel artist be sleeping with another man’s wife? When I eventually do the right thing by punishing the person, they would say I am wicked. It does not make any sense.

A lot of gospel artistes are not doing well. What is the problem with them?
The problem with them is that they are not giving the Lord God a chance in their lives totally. The issue is that if you call yourself a gospel artist, you should portray it excessively. They sound different from the way they appear, the way they dress. They don’t practice what they preach. There is nothing we can do to that. But when you open all your body for the world to see, it’s not done and such things should be ignored.

What inspired the song, Baba ku ise o baba?
The song came from God. I was moving within Ibadan on June 26, 1973 to Tewogbade and Sons where I used to work back then. I was going in the morning to have my work done. God called me and told me to listen. I heard all the songs from God. There was no biro on me to write it down and due to that, I lost all the song from my memory. I tried to remember the songs but all the attempts I made were invalid. I wept and God said for this I will go for three months fasting and prayer. After three months, as I was going to work, the song came again and I wrote it down. That was how I came about the song. As from that day, I move everywhere with my writing materials.

How do you observe your private time?
What I do is lock up myself to sleep or talk to my creator. During this hour, the Lord God reveals a lot of things to me. It is important to sleep well so as not to collapse on the stage one day (laughs). I endeavour to relax well when I have the time.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Challenges are very normal. When I encounter any, I don’t get carried away. There are challenges everywhere and we all know that. The only one I have is basically with the gospel artistes in this country. They don’t practice what they preach and this is not right in any way. It should be avoided and kept aside. Challenges are normal