Assume that you are in class and from nowhere comes a question landing in your face. You have very little time to produce an answer. You delay, and a slim cane will come kissing your back! Answer wrongly, and you will be scorned – we will tease you forever. The big question that is causing your palpitation is ‘Is it the song that makes the artiste or the artiste that makes the song?’ I am very much interested in what the answer to the above question is, because I want to make an argument.
I want to argue that Bisa Kdei is a gospel artiste. My argument is built on the fascinating fact that ‘Give It To Baba’ (or whatever he calls that song) fits the criteria for grouping gospel songs, and by simple adjectival description, his hands are well washed enough to dine with Ernest Opoku, Ohemaa Mercy, Dianah Asamoah and the likes. Before you counter-attack by saying just a single ‘gospel song’ is not enough to win him the rank, you should find out why just a thirty-second rap in the popular Vera song is enough to qualify Joey B as a Hiplife rapper. So it’s not about the number of records.
Let me cause some more Tasmanian-Devil troubles…
Charter house should explain to us why OJ’s ‘Maye Se Mo Pen’ was nominated for 2014 Gospel Music of the Year, although neither God nor His beloved Son, Jesus Christ got a shout-out in that song.
The awards consideration panel of the Ghana Gospel Awards should also do us the honor of explaining what they mean by their Alternative Gospel Award section. For your information, that category features secular ‘gospel songs’ that are out of the mainstream group.
Bernice Offei should also send us a memo, stating why her thought-provoking song with the clock-ticking beat, ‘Life’ should be labeled a gospel track. Weird, right?
So you see, the question the wicked teacher put across will leave us thinking all day, and escaping his lashes is practically impossible. The above three hundred and thirty-three words is my very gentlemanly way of saying, I find it uneasy to define who a gospel artiste is or what a gospel song is. I cant!
Nevertheless, the discourse lingers on.
What is gospel music? It is the only thing a Christian or Muslim should feed himself with? Does listening to other genres make you sinful?
Let’s do some classical definitions first. Bet, that will ease the tension here.
‘Secular’ is ‘anything that is not spiritual, sacred or religion-related’. So to the Christian, any song that fails to talk about God and His son Jesus Christ qualifies for this category…Allah and Mohammed for the Muslim, Buddha for the Buddhist, and the list goes on. Oxford dictionary defines the troublesome word, ‘Gospel’as ‘the life and teachings of Jesus as explained in the Bible’. Muslims don’t have gospel songs, if that’s the case.
If you are close-marking my thoughts, you will realize I am indeed attempting to resurrect an old unnecessary argument – that argument that places gospel music and secular music on the two sides of the beam balance. This old bit becomes difficult to digest when we moralize and spiritualize it.
So just when I heard Lord Kenya in an interview say that we should quit playing his old songs, which he no longer see as worthy, I agreed with the evangelist. I agreed, because I can pick on a couple of songs I realized could corrupt me. Lord Kenya had apparently warned radio presenters and disk jockeys that playing any of his old songs could incur the wrath of God.
But later, I made a discrete realization Ghana’s born-again Kenya had not made.
The rapper-turned-evangelist did not recognize that he had recorded some non-gospel songs that sharpen and direct better than any of his new songs will do. Take a moment to listen to ‘Sika Mpo Fa Ne Ho’ by the said former Hiplife singer. That piece does not adore God, it never mentions him; but edifies mankind. It conscientises us against corruption, counsels the listener against thievery and highlights the quintessence of contentedness.
We are quick to demonize the average secular music practitioner together with their works.
However, it will interest you to know that not long ago; Sarkodie led Praises and Worship at the Assemblies of God church. We didn’t hear the leaders of the church or the Christian Council say that the azonto-singing dude who also owns sexually-explicit songs like ‘Bounce’, ‘2 Paddies’, ‘Agyeii’ and ‘Azonto Fiesta’ is a misfit, and cannot lead the church to praise God. No Reverend Minister can stop Shatta Wale, if he decides to do a solo in church, one day! Trust me.
Here’s another assumption I would want you to make. Assume it’s your wedding day. You have exchanged vows with your partner and that coveted gold ring now encircles your finger. Your partner, who is the new love of your life and you are called to do your first couple dance at the reception. Your friends and family and a clergy of reverend ministers are looking on, and just there comes a secular music – say Banky W’s Yes/No or Kwabena Kwabena’s Adult Music. Will you refuse to dance? I hope Sonnie Badu is reading this piece.
Here’s the point…
Man is a spirit, possesses a soul that dwell in a body. The body lives in a world. The world has culture. Our culture is characterized by values. We love, we have emotions, we get hurt; because we feel, we admire, we socialize; because we have affiliations, we learn, we show solidarity, we are a people; we have a nation to which we are patriotic. We have a life!
It is very, very, very worth noting that there are a thousand-and-one values a song may represent that do not necessarily make mention of God. Allow that tiny voice in your head to sing, ‘Yen Ara Asase Ni’, finish off with Uncle Ato’s ‘Oman Beye Yie’ and let’s proceed. Reminisce the old days when that popular Cantata TV show was preceded with Osibisa’s ‘We Are Going’.
So we cannot tap our feet and enjoy secular songs like, ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’, ‘Take A Message To Mary’, ‘No Woman No Cry’, Okyeame Kwame’s ‘One More Time’, Michael Jackson’s ‘We Are The World’ and ‘Shame On You’ by Morris, because they do not honor God? There are many secular songs that uphold godly values such as honesty, purity and integrity.
Come on, folks! What is sinful about listening to Sarkodie’s Adonai?
What about the lullabies, the traditional theme songs we sing in the middle of the Kweku Ananse stories, our patriotic songs, and our local chants? Let’s pause here and find out from the Jehovah’s Witnesses why they won’t sing the National Anthem even on gun point.
So should a Christian, Muslim or Buddhist sing or listen to secular music? Well, YES, depending on the purpose and the content.
The assertion that a healthy song comes from a ‘saint’ will lack maturity because we know of some gospel artistes of bad repute – some use third-party evil spiritual support, some feud over nominations and awards, some dress like Portiphar’s wife. And errrrm, some also bleach!
So the worthiness of a song obviously is not dependent on WHO is singing or producing it. This is still debatable, I know.
PURPOSE and CONTENT
We all know that majority of Western Country music connote sex. Nonetheless, if a Christian married couple would play such ungodly songs to charge an atmosphere for love-making, does that not define my use of the word, PURPOSE above? But if the unmarried youth will abuse Ofori Amponsah’s love songs, then that is what the secular-musician-turned-evangelist should fume over.
Now imagine the relief you get, when after a week of stressful events in the office, you help yourself with Kwadwo Antwi’s tracks or blazing your car speakers with Flavour’s ‘Ada Ada’ song on your way home. There’s therefore no gainsaying that secular songs with good content are a good source of healthy entertainment, and some of them can pass the fire test.
Suffice it to say that a large number of the secular songs are unwholesome. Some encourage impure thoughts and actions. Some are as unhealthy as consuming GMO foods. I have my own sentiments about a lot of local and foreign songs that are sexually explicit, promote drug abuse, insult —and some even have the guts to blaspheme. No, such stuff kill the spirit, they detract us, they deceive us. They are like politicians – don’t listen to them!
Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure. Whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Look below. Here’s the comment box, say your opinion.