Godwin J. Godwin has been singing since his childhood days but he went professional in 2005. A passionate gospel music minister, he said in this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL he gets his inspiration from the Holy Spirit who gives him songs in dreams and while playing musical instruments. According to him, Nigerian gospel music industry is about the best in Africa but still trailing South Africa because of the support the country gives its gospel artistes. Godwin applauds House on The Rock and Christ Embassy for the huge support they give to the gospel music industry in Nigeria. He however wants other churches to emulate the duo. Excerpts:
How did you start gospel music?
I was born in a family of music. My mother used to be a choir mistress. She used to carry me for choir rehearsal as a little boy. But when you talk about professional music, in 2002 to be precise I started doing music. In 2003 I started going to the studio. I did my first demo in 2005, so professionally I have been singing for about 15 years.
How many albums have you produced so far?
I have done two albums that are not in the market. They were sold in church. The first one we did is called New Season of Worship. The next one was titled I’m not ashamed of the cross. Then the new one is called The Essence of My Being. It is not in the market yet. We have not got a marketer. We had to retrieve it from the market because we needed to work on it properly.
How do you get your inspiration?
I play instruments. I play the keyboard, I play the guitar, sometimes when I play the guitar, I get songs. Sometimes through dreams. The Holy Spirit gives me inspiration. But majorly when I play the instruments I get inspiration. In the combination of notes, I get songs. That is how songs come. Sometimes in the dream, a verse or a chorus comes, so I build it up.
Can you summarise your salvation experience?
I got born again in February 1998 in Grace of God Mission, Kano. I come from a Christian background though that does not make you a Christian. I have moved from one church to the other because I left Kano, I moved to Abuja. I worshiped with House on the Rock and Family Worship Centre. Before I left Abuja, I joined Christ Embassy, then I moved to Port Harcourt.
How do you see gospel music in Nigeria?
Gospel music in Nigeria is actually making progress compared to other African countries. I went to Ghana, I saw their gospel music. They are looking up to Nigeria. Gospel Music in Nigeria is trending well; it is making progress compared to other African countries except South Africa.
You mean South Africa is ahead of Nigeria?
Yes, they are ahead in terms of gospel music, they are far ahead.
Then how do you see the content of gospel music in Nigeria?
Our contents are very rich. We have good song writers. People like Nathaniel Bassey, people like Frank Edwards, people like Sinach. Sinach is a global gospel artiste. She is about the best in Africa and it is a plus. I think we are doing well.
How do you advise upcoming gospel artistes?
My message for upcoming artistes is that they should work. Hard work and consistency are things they need. The success of a gospel artiste is not something that happens overnight. It is work, a long time work. If you see someone like Jeremiah Gyang for instance, before he came to the limelight he had produced about six albums that didn’t sell. So it requires patience, time, dedication, because you cannot be doing many things and expect to succeed in all of them. You must give your time to one of them. If you have seen music as your professional work then you must give your time to it and wait. The key words are waiting, patience and consistency.
Let me take you back, you said South Africa is far ahead of Nigeria in gospel music, have you compared the support the church there gives their artistes and what the Nigerian church gives her own artistes?
We don’t have the kind of support the church in South Africa gives their artistes. But thank God some churches have started encouraging their in-house artistes. The problem we face here is that some churches want to appreciate the ones on top, the already made artistes and neglect the ones in-house. If you go to South Africa, a church can adopt a musician and say this one has gift, they would employ him or her and the person does nothing else. They would bring him to the lime light which is what Christ Embassy is doing. The church has made gospel music in Nigeria they have taken them to the next level. They have added value to gospel music, they are the first to start paying gospel artistes within their own house. They gave them platform; they gave them studio to record their work. Some few churches have started doing that as well. There is The Experience, the program is the largest gospel concert in the world and it is championed by House on the Rock. But we still need more churches to come into the support of gospel artists. But so far so good. That perception, the way they see gospel artistes before is now changing but we need more churches to do more.
Tell us about your new work…
My new work is called The Essence of My Being. I think it is about three months old now. The Source is going places too. Some people wrote me from the US that they want permission to do one of the songs in their choir. Also in Ghana and in South Africa it is being a blessing to many.