The most successful gospel musician

Buchi is undisputedly the most successful gospel musician in Nigeria presently. He is the most consistent of them all in terms of recording and performance success. In this chat with OSEYIZA OOGBODO, he discloses why he doesn’t speak anymore about the most important testimony of his life. It was your birthday recently. How did you celebrate it? I visited a group of children, 250 of them, in Abeokuta in a place Stephen Centre. They are called Nigeria’s special children. These are children whose fathers, and in some cases, mothers and siblings also, were killed in their presence during religious riots in northern Nigeria. And they’ve been assembled, some of them, the 250 represents just some, a fraction of them, in Abeokuta, where they are being offered free education and upkeep. Why did you choose to visit them on your birthday? Well, you know … Couldn’t you have thrown a party? I could have thrown a party of course. I could have done a whole lot of things. But your birthday is usually a time of deep reflection, it’s a time when you do that which is dearest to you, your birthday is one time when you choose what you do. If I have my way, I’ll spend all of my life reaching out to people like that. Indeed I have my way, I do have my way, and that is what I’ve chosen to do. To reach out to such people and others like them. People who need a helping hand, who need the message and the comfort God has deposited them in me. Did you go in company with your family? This time I didn’t. I had done that before now. Was it then a full day affair at the Stephen Centre or you quickly rushed back to Lagos to celebrate with your family too? In fact, it was a 2-day affair. I spent the day and night with them. How did your wife feel that on your birthday you chose not to be with her and your children but some fatherless children? She knows me. She respects this thing about me. How old did you celebrate? 46 years. There’s a lot of controversy in the music industry about collection societies. There’s MCSN and the latest one, COSON. Which one do you belong to, and what’s your view about royalty collection in Nigeria? This is my understanding. We had MCSN and we had PMRS and I belonged to PMRS at the time. I don’t think we have all those now, there is COSON. And COSON is a common front for us all, at least that is what it’s intended to be. So I’ve duly assigned myself with COSON. Did PMRS ever pay you any royalties? Oh yeah, they did. So it was functioning properly? PMRS was functioning properly. And beyond paying royalties to me, they were so open that I had access to the account’s activities. So what led to its demise? It didn’t die. It just merged itself into the new development that is COSON. Some musicians are claiming COSON is a shady venture, but you believe in it? Yes I do. I do. All this time that musicians spend fighting one another could be put to much better use. While we’re fighting, the actual work is left undone. What do you have to say about MCSN then? I simply expect MCSN to do as PMRS did and let’s have a common front. In 2008, you were part of a music talent hunt by G Music that produced Miss Ademuwagun as the winner and you promised then that she would become a big star but … I didn’t promise that she would become a big star. I promised that she would be recorded. And has she been recorded? Yes. She has. What’s happening with her career because it was expected that she would have been a star by now? Well, G Music is not a record label yet. G Music was a venture whose sole aim at the time was to reward deserving talents with the much-needed aid, financial aid and moral support to record and release their music and showcase them. That was achieved 100% and we left it at that. We do hope that G Music will become a label. We do hope that G Music will do much more and become a platform for showcasing new faces and new voices in the music industry. Is there a reason that young gospel artistes like Jahdiel, Samsong, Iyke Onka and Eben are finding it difficult to become as successful as you? I don’t think that they are not as successful as me. I think that they are equally successful, okay, yeah. But do they enjoy the sort of performance patronage and even recording success that you do? I’ll try and find out from them. During your tenth year on stage anniversary in 2009, you mentioned something about facing a firing squad. Did you actually face one? I did. Wow! And you’re still alive. Please tell us the story. No, I’m sorry, I can’t tell you. You know, I’ve shared that testimony so many times that people now tend to major on it almost in such a way that they will rather have me defined by that experience than by the message of my music, and that is not my intention. The important thing is the message of my music. This testimony is relevant only to the extent that it strengthens the message of my music, so I’ll rather not be defined by that experience. Of all your songs, people prefer Mma Mma the most. Is it your best song? I don’t think people prefer Mma Mma the most. I think that naturally, some songs will stand out more than others. Maybe because of the appeal they have. There are so many others that people appreciate in a different way. They listen and they don’t shout. There are some they listen to and they weep. There are some they listen to and they don’t see Buchi, they just turn to God and begin to talk to God. But they listen to Mma Mma and they dance and rejoice. That’s a more visible reaction to music and that’s why it appears to be the loudest, but there are indeed other songs in all of my four albums that have touched people in different ways, but no less than Mma Mma. Also at your tenth anniversary on stage, you introduced Push as an artiste that you were going to promote, yet we’ve not heard of him. What’s happening? Eh, I’m looking forward to Push coming out with a big bang. We’re setting the stage. He’s not the kind of artiste that just strolls into the industry. He’s the kind that ought to be celebrated and welcomed with a bang, and that’s what we’re planning to do You are one of the artistes still maintaining a live band when many artistes openly complain that it’s very difficult to maintain such. How do you do it? It is indeed difficult to maintain a live band. But when you have understanding with … when you see the band as family, it is easier. When you are transparent in your transactions with them, it is easier. When profit is not the motive, it is easier. When you let them see what you see and share your vision and focus, it is easier. It is not impossible to maintain a live band. These ten years I’ve been with a live band, indeed we’ve continued to grow in number, and I’ve no intention of doing otherwise. But let’s just say we’re a family. The Big Toonz family is a close-knit family. We eat together, lodge together in the same hotel. I ask my guests to keep us together in the same hotel. We travel together by road. If you can fly us, fly all of us. If not, we’ll all come by road. We just do things together and that has helped a great deal in keeping us together. We pray together. When is your next album coming out? I’m working hard … I thought I’ll be able to finish it this year, I still think I can … but if I miss releasing this year, then early next year, definitely it will be out. And the latter one, Sound Of Life, how is it doing? It’s done exceptionally well, especially considering that it has no videos. I released just the audio, no videos, but presently, I’m working on the videos. And they will be released shortly before the audio of the next album. How do you feel that you gospel artistes are missing out, not even getting nominated for the big awards like MTV Africa Music Awards? How would I put this? Ehm, what we need, we have. We should not wait for people to give us what we need. The industry
belongs to gospel artistes, music belongs to us. Our music is no less sophisticated or pleasant than secular, but most of all, our music enriches lives. There are two kinds of music. The rave of the moment and the evergreen which is what we do. A gospel artiste is in the best position to do evergreens. Some gospel artistes struggle to be rave of the moment. If that’s what you want, music that will last for just 3, 4 or 6 months, good for you. Nigerian Music Nigeria Buchi

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Contact us for this space NGHHP