The Gospel Music Industry over the years has faced major challenges but before I get into that and how some of these predicaments can be rectified, let’s begin with a ride through the genealogy of Ghanaian Gospel music. It chiefly begun with people who were inspired by the great commission of Christ to evangelize through music. They translated the word of God into melodies attached with great Ghanaian rhythms heavily laden with percussion beats and Yaa Amponsah melody ( original guitar piece that is used as the foundation for many Ghanaian music).
Pioneers of this music includes Bro. Asiamah And His ‘Som Nyame’ Gospel Band, The Ahinsan Happy Gospel band, Esther Nyamekye, Prof. Kofi Abraham, Yaw Sarpong, Wofa Asumani, Comfort Annor, Mc Abraham, YABS, Helena Rabels, Joyful Way Incorporated just to mention a few. Then came another breed of the Genre in the early 80’s with a fusion of contemporary music through to the late 90’s. These breed included , Tagoe Sisters, Bernice Offei, Daughters of Glorious Jesus, Amy Newman, Rev. Thomas Yawson, Rev. Kusi Berko, Elder Mireku, Stella Seal, Rev. Mary Ghansah, Soul winners, Danny Nettey.
In the early 2000’s The Baton was handed over to another generation of gospel musicians who fused a bit of the generic rhythms and foreign styles to meet the rising demands of the new Ghanaian whiles the old folks were adapting to the new trend of the industry. For the past 15 years, some of these new faces have been, Christiana Love, Cindy Thompson, Esther Smith, NanaYaw Asare, Nii Okai, Evangelist Diana Asamoah, Philipa Baafi, Lady Prempeh, Uncle Ato, Joe Beechem, Ohemaa Mercy.
In recent times, the industry has witnessed a crop of Gospel musicians who have incorporated foreign styles and beats into our conventional styles, this kind they call Contemporary Gospel Music. Some of these songs has a mix of genres like RnB, Pop and ballads. In the last five years, such record producing artists include Cwesi Oteng, Joe Mettle, No Tribe, Eugene Zuta, KODA, Joyce Blessing, Sonnie Badu amongst a few other contemporary choirs.
I was surprised to find available copies of Gospel songs recorded in the 70’s by Bro. Asiamah And His Som Nyame Gospel Band and The Ahinsan Happy Gospel band on the famous e-commerce platform, eBay. The shocker made me conduct a thorough research into the commercialization of Gospel Music in Ghana and why the current breed of Gospel musicians are struggling to breakthrough into the mainstream music scene. Speaking to a few of the successful pioneers, I discovered these were people who had a sense of direction guided by industry technocrats who helped to shape their art and brands. These industry experts knew what talents/gifts were when they came across one and in a short space could turn raw talents into valuable assets. A few names come to bare with respect to these artist managers.
Kofi Apeadu, manager of the Daughters Of Glorious Jesus, Rev Thomas Yawson, manager of Tagoe Sisters and Winfred Daniel Nii Adjaye, former manager of Sonnie Badu.
In recent times, artists managers like Kwesi Ernest, manager of Kofi Sarpong and Joyce Blessing has also taken the baton and achieved a great deal of success in the industry. Charles Sarpong, owner of Cebex Music Production and manager of artists such as Selina Boateng and Cecelia Marfo cant also be left out of the equation. These guys work hard and make huge monetary investments to put an artist out there on the market and they are major stakeholders of the financial inclusion associated with the music industry.
In the modern Gospel music environment where artists like Joe Mettle, Koda, Danny Nettey, Denzel, Akesse Brempong, Francis Amo, Pastor Isaiah, Eugene Zuta, Cwesi Oteng and a lot more exist, the industry is been faced with great challenges. Most of these artists have no management systems. They are their own artist managers, brand managers, event managers, production managers, creative directors, publicist and what have you. They find it difficult to differentiate between business and ministry as they call it. These artists have failed to hire the services of technocrats to handle the commercialization of their art. They cry out loud on radio stations and other platforms about sabotage, fairness and indiscrimination denying themselves of the fact that the biggest part of the problem exists internally.
My question to all these contemporary gospel artist is, who will buy your product if no one knows it exists? Certainly not me. They spend all their investments on concerts rather than promoting the songs to be heard around the world as a form of evangelism. Truly if the real essence of producing Gospel music is to preach the word of God through songs then I don’t think recording songs, sharing them amongst friends, playing them on sunny fm and sweet melodies and having annual concerts is doing enough in preaching the Gospel and impacting the world at large. The annual concerts are filled by same audience that cut across every concert and that brings patrons of these environment into a very small circle with a delusion that once the songs are been sung in a few modern day churches, the songs are known. This frame of mind has influenced the actions of the contemporary Gospel artists and has deterred potential investors from plying the industry.
Truth be told, If these artists don’t realize the dynamics in music business and adapt to standards, the industry will continue to suffer and might go worse. Apt managers must be hired for the job of pushing one’s art, music and brand to join the mainstream music industry. Success has already been achieved, no need to reinvent the wheel. It can be done because it has been done before. Gospel Artists should be willing to listen to technocrats and adjust to constructive criticisms to help shape their career and build a better industry to transcend generations.
Watch this space for an extension of this article…
STORY: Nick Solomon