This group of four singers, Ojuayo Olamide, Patricia Ohuwaje King, Micheal Olayinka and Olugbenga Ademola Oyebola, are making waves in the Gospel music circle. Their albums, always a must for every home, contain songs that have turned to national anthems of some sort. What exactly brought these young stars together and how? TOPE OLUKOLE cornered them and exclusively revealed all these and many more.

The Beginning
We met at Yaba College of Technology. We were in the same choir in 1999 and were just keeping it real. Everyone of us had that musical background before we went there. Along the line, the four of us started getting close and flowing well together musically. As we were moving on, we had one concert, it was very great and from there, we decided to continue this after leaving school. We put a lot into it while we were in school because we didn’t want it to end in school. We had to make up our minds to run with the vision and right now, we are the one chasing the vision. Initially, we were eleven –some got married and went to London with their husbands, some caught another vision, while some are into personal ministries and are doing well. One of them could not cope with engineering and music, so she opted out. It was not a break-up but a breakthrough.

The Name
The emergence of the name midnight crew is very long but we’ll cut it short. In life, you have to do everything to make sure things work out well. When they are inviting groups for concerts and they see the name midnight crew they should be able to say, this name sounds like something. While we were in school, we were in the choir. Some of us just stood out because we had a lot of passion for what we are doing. We usually say that there is no concert we can’t make. Most times, they invite us during the examination period and we do normally accept such invitations and perform five or more minutes before our examination starts, the rest may not come but we will be there.

Side Effects
We had ‘carry-over’ and extra semesters but we made it through in the end. We just considered our attitude and zeal to work at anytime, even at midnight when others will be sleeping. In fact, there’s no other thing to call us than midnight crew, we are just always available.

Midnight Shows
We don’t like staying all night for programmes though we are Midnight Crew. Really, the midnight is for sleep. When we stay up it is to pray. The thing is, most churches want you to stay there all night but we prefer you tell us when you want us to come, we come, do what it is expected of us and go. But they like to say things like, ‘midnight crew is still around, and they’re coming back.’

It’s not about the money, even though it can motivate. The real thing is that people abuse that opportunity and in the end it becomes something else. Yet, this is all we do. Think about it like this, if we stay all through every where we minister, then we wouldn’t be able to go anywhere else and it will be a lot of stress. At the end of the day, it affects our voice, creativity and everything.

The Inspiration
It could sound so natural that it’s God, but if I created you, it means so much of me is in you. We have the life of God, that is why we are bubbling people. The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength. There have been tremendous testimonies to the impact of the music, even before we started midnight crew. Someone who wanted to commit suicide watched us while performing and concluded that if young people like himself can be singing so well, ‘wetin do me?’ And that was it! That’s why he’s still alive. There was a time we had a concert in school and at the same time there were two other major events in school. Guess what? People did not turn up for the other events because of us. The next day, the students’ union government had to give us an award.

The Choice of the Gospel
We are Christians; we have a Christian background, so it had to be gospel. You can’t give what you don’t have. The plan of God for your life matters. If you’re meant to be in a particular circle and you go out of God’s plan, you’ll just be rotating. Even with gospel music, you must be dynamic. You need to repackage Christ for some people who are easily put off at the slightest mention of Jesus. It’s not like you’re compromising, just say El shaddai, Elohim, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, nobody else answers those names. We can’t give what we don’t have, so this is what we have.

We are still praying and we also thank God that two of us are married; one has a child, living in a big house and about to complete a new building soon. All the money came from nothing else but Midnight Crew. And it’s the same story for all of us because we share our profit equally. Money has never caused a misunderstanding within us, it is not by our doing but God’s grace. We have a Finance Director who handles our finance properly. Although we are not as bouyant as people think yet, we thank God for where we are now. There are a lot of projects we’re still doing and we’re also shooting videos that’ll soon be out, which we can say are the cheapest of all the projects we embark on. Just keep your fingers crossed.

Other Ventures
Very soon, we’ll be going into music training, management and consulting. Right now, Pat is into jingles, Ayo makes clothes and our costumes, Demola is a practising quantity surveyor and he intends to make more money from the construction industry and in the future he intends to manage choirs. In fact, we have many projects in the offing and we’re really looking forward to that.

If one of us decides to travel today, for instance, all of us are going with the person. We’ll all pack our bags, determine the duration and we’ll all go. The relationship is so strong that some people think we are dating ourselves but the truth is we all have our relationships outside the group. Only Ayo is not yet engaged but a lot of men keep running after her seriously. Really, God is behind this because it is not common at all. God knew that He wanted to reach this generation and He needed some people to use. We’ve been together for about nine years and our wives and partners have also built their lives around midnight crew, so it’s just God and we’re grateful. We maintain a very busy schedule, most times, it’s three events per day.

We’ve not been able to carve out leisure yet, but we will because we really need it. The thing is, once you are in Lagos, you’re in trouble. The first time we had the time to visit a cinema was in the United Kingdom. We usually have more time outside the country than here.

Music Industry in Nigeria
It’s getting better. One thing about Nigerians is that they respond to good things. Nigeria is ripe for entertainment. One guy came from the United Kingdom to be involved in entertainment. So, it’s really picking up and there’s a lot in it. Gospel music too is gaining grounds.

What Next?
A praise album, a live recording. In the next five years we will still be together singing, making money, blessing lives, impacting our generation. For better understanding of their fans, Ojuayo has Higher National Diploma (HND) in Secretarial Studies from Yaba College of Technology; Patricia who got married at her church The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Faith City, studied Creative Arts at the University of Lagos after National Diploma at Yaba College of Technology. Michael is married with a-two-and-half-year old daughter; he attended Obafemi Awolowo University but left to study Electrical Engineering at Yaba College of Technology. Demola has HND in Quantity Survey from Yaba College of Technology.