29th November, 2021
Paul Dada is the Managing Editor of TheseTimes, an online newspaper. He has worked with several print and online news platforms as Reporter, Correspondent, and Editor. He is also a former Reporter with PM News. But Dada is also a gospel singer /musician. In this interview he explains why his approach to gospel music is different and unconventional.
It is unusual to see a journalist who is also a singer. How do you manage to combine the two?
To be honest, I wonder how I combine many things. I am a husband and father, a teaching elder or one with pastoral responsibilities in a nondenominational local church. I also teach the Bible on social media particularly Facebook and WhatsApp. I am a gospel singer, songwriter and musician. Yet, I am a full-time journalist. I manage an online news medium. And I have worked in several print and online media outfits. I also do analysis on TVC’s Journalists’ Hangout whenever the producer invites me. And I get invited often. Of course, before I started going to TVC. I used to do public affairs analysis at least once in a week in the Lagos studio of the Ibadan- based IATV. I have also been a radio guest a number of times. In fact, I used to anchor a show on a vibrant online radio. So, how do I do all these? I just do them as God enables me. And that’s it.
Why in particular did you venture into gospel music?
Well, I used to belong to a mega denomination where in addition to preaching and teaching responsibilities, I was a music leader. It was a denomination that took music seriously. If you were a serious chorister, you would learn the theory of music and learn to play at least one musical instrument.
Choosing songs for sermon topics in that denomination as a choirmaster could be a daunting task. The sermons for a retreat, a Success Camp programme, a special programme, etc, could cover several subjects; holiness, salvation, faith, persecution of saints, etc. And music leaders( choirmasters) had to choose songs to match the sermon themes.
It was difficult to find Nigerian gospel songs matching serious spiritual topics like holiness, consecration, et al. While we had overabundance of Nigerian songs on praise to God (many of them shallow), those that dealt with deep spiritual topics were scarce.
As a choirmaster, I had to often look for good foreign gospel songs or compose mine or rearrange sheet music for our youth choristers to perform.
After I came out of the denominational system, I made up mind to continue to do songs that are doctrinally deep and address real Christian issues. Members of my music team, called Desongz, understand this vision. If you go to our website, desongz.com, and our Youtube channel, you would find songs that teach salvation, perseverance in faith, warning against the flesh, the need for Christian love, consecration, among others.
Are you basically saying there is a dearth of true gospel songs in Nigeria and you are here to fill the gap?
That is the truth. You hardly find true gospel singers among the notable artistes in Nigeria. What we mostly have is ‘gospotainment’ and not the music ministry. You have artistes with beautiful voices, rhythms, great productions but shallow lyrics. The lyrics are shallow because they teach little or no spiritual truth. Almost everyone sings songs of praise. And even those are shallow. Compare their lyrics with worship hymns like “How Great Thou Art” and “Great Is thy faithfulness”. When you look at the lyrics of most of our Christian hymns, you can’t but have the impression that they were written by those who had genuine spiritual encounters. Sadly, in our country, we are not getting deep messages from our so-called gospel artistes. Of course, many of them are not properly discipled. Their songs centre on mundane things and materialism and not on our spiritual inheritance in Christ.
But years before, the old Nigerian singers like the Voice of the Cross, Panam Percy Paul whom I love so much and hosted recently in a Zoom conference, Niyi Adedokun, Shola Rotimi, Ojo Ade and others sang meaningful songs. You rarely hear meaningful songs any more. Today, what most of the people you call gospel singers do is to sing to please the fans and not the Lord. A minister of God would seek to please the Lord by delivering the message he receives from Him. But this is not so for an entertainer. Most of our gospel artistes are just entertainers using the name of Jesus to do their thing. Only few are different. But thank God, someone like Panam Percy Paul is still active.
So, what exactly is your own approach to gospel music?
Well, when I did my first album, I sold the CDs . I also sold the songs online. But I later received a direct instruction from God to stop selling. Since then, I would spend my money on song recordings and productions and give them out for free. Of course, I get voluntary or freewill support from friends. In fact my latest songs which I released recently, Hungiri and Father, I Plead were recorded for free at Adullam Studio, Ijebu-Ode. My brother and friend, Wale Olayiwola who owns the studio and who shares same vision as I, offered to produce those songs for free. The videos were shot for free at Musicity Academy at Ahmadiyah, Lagos and by Silvution Media.
You see, I was praying one day when the Lord referred me to I Samuel 8 in the Bible where it is recorded that the ancient Israelites demanded that Samuel get them a king to be like other nations. God was simply telling me not to be like other gospel artistes. So my approach is a different one. My singing is non-commercial, the songs have deep lyrics. My team members understand this vision well.
And we are getting good feedbacks from the listeners to the songs. The testimonies are very encouraging. Glory to God.
Currently, there is a vision to set up a studio to help genuine gospel singers who do not have money to get their songs recorded. Wale is spearheading a fund raising campaign for the studio. We want to fill Nigeria with genuine gospel songs.
I don’t care for fame. I am not a celebrity. I do not aspire to be one. All I care for in my verbal preaching, writings and music making is that people hear the truth of God. It is up to God to decide whether my audience would be limited to a few thousands or whether millions will hear me.
This is all unconventional, and even a little controversial. You are also controversial in your Facebook writings. And some see you as a critic of the church. What do you have to say to this?
Well there was no time I told myself, “Paul go become controversial”. But Jesus was controversial. The genuine gospel and the sound truths of the scriptures are controversial. So, anyone who truly wants to uphold them would naturally and inevitably be controversial. I wouldn’t regard myself as a critic of the church but one who calls on believers in Christ to return or embrace the genuine New Testament Christianity. So, what I and my kind basically do is use the scriptures to refute entrenched but aberrant practices and doctrines of the Christendom. This of course does not go down well with many people who see us as rabble rousers. All I ask, is for them is to at least prayerfully and objectively look at the merit of our submissions. But most do not have the readiness or even the courage to move away from the status quo. Some even go personal and resort to ad hominems to discredit us. But I thank God; there are people who are embracing the truths we teach. Glory be to God. People even share my posts on social media platforms and blogs. I have even seen newspapers publish my articles.
What Inspired the writing and recording of your latest songs, Hungiri and Father, I Plead?
I wrote Hungiri to remind us believers of our responsibility of love and care for our needy brethren. Hungiri is a very afrocentric song with scintillating rhythms and chords. It combines with lyrics and rearranged melody from the evergreen hymn “Show a little bit of love and kindness” authored by John W. Peterson. Hungiri would make you dance but I trust you won’t miss its message.
I wrote the song Father I Plead for believers in Christ. The song teaches that you can hold on and grow in God’s grace and strength amid the storms. It is also a song of prayer to God for divine support.
HUNGIRI BY PAUL DADA https://www.desongz.com/
FATHER, I PLEAD BY PAUL DADA https://www.desongz.com/