Posted by YEMISI ADENIRAN on
Evangelist Bola Aare, the outgoing President of the Gospel Musicians Association of Nigeria (GOMA) is the stuff on many legends. Some say she started singing when she was just a toddler. Still others insist she started singing from her motherís womb! The celebrated gospel artiste told YEMISI ADENIRAN what is true and what is not about her eventful ...
Evangelist Bola Aare, the outgoing President of the Gospel Musicians Association of Nigeria (GOMA) is the stuff on many legends. Some say she started singing when she was just a toddler. Still others insist she started singing from her motherís womb! The celebrated gospel artiste told YEMISI ADENIRAN what is true and what is not about her eventful career.
How did you start your journey into gospel music?
As far as the history of my career in music is concerned, I would say it was predestinated. According to my parents, a prophecy about it came forth before I was born. It was prophesied that I would be in the house of God all the days of my life and so, when I was born, my parents gave me over to the founder of their church, Christ Apostolic Church, Omu- Ekiti in Oye Local Government, to live with him, just like it was for Samuel in the Bible
At what age was this?
I canít say precisely but I was very young. I was in the mission house for a long time and it was while I was there that my music potential grew and blossomed. Some say they noticed my flair for music at age one when I would sing and sing endlessly. This continued throughout my school days and even until today. By the time I clocked eight, the gift had become so glaring that I was being monitored by almost everyone. My parents and guardian wouldnít want anything to disturb my talent. At a point when I got to the secondary school, my principal encouraged me to go to music school.
Exactly when did your career actually take off ?
I will say that it began in 1970 because that was the year I started singing in churches on invitations. I formed a band in 1973 and had my first album released in August 1977.
Does this mean you never did any other thing aside music?
No, no, no. I once worked as a clerk with GAT Tewogbade and Sons in Ibadan before joining the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan as a medical record officer. I was on my way to the office one morning when I got the specific instruction from God to move out of my job and go into the music ministry fully.
I was confused but I heard Him clearly. How would I possibly go about this? This was the question I asked myself.
And how did you go about it?
There was a lady, Sister Grace with whom I prayed then, she was my prayer partner. The Lord instructed me to ask her to come with one of her friends. She came with Moji and believe me, that night, the band was formed and my first album- Baba Ku Ise was berthed. We all sang, I was co-ordinating and the whole show took off from there. That was June 25, 1973. It was after this that I was directed again by God to resign my appointment with the UCH Ibadan. This did not go down well with me as I was not prepared for this. But I did it grudgingly because
I was not ready to go the way of the biblical Jonah, who was swallowed by a fish because he disobeyed Godís instruction. I was asked to proceed on a 30-day fasting because He wanted to use me. I was so unwilling and sluggish. That day, I was so dizzy that it appeared the whole UCH was rolling around me. One part of me was saying Ďnoí while the other said Ďyesí. It was one hell of a battle. However, I had to yield to God and it was until I did so that I gained the peace of mind that I lost over the issue. The Lord promised to always back me up, feed me and protect me if I would remain in His vineyard.
He said He would never leave me nor forsake me and that the day I have nothing to eat by 9am; I should know that He has not called me. True to His words, the Lord has been faithful. Since 1977 when this ministry took off, I have never gone hungry.
How would you rate the journey so far?
Itís been great, itís been glorious. At first, I was confused at the step I was made to take. But God, being faithful, has kept His own part of the bargain and has encouraged me greatly. The first album I released into the market, Baba Ku Ise sold very well and I was very encouraged. It was a hit and an evergreen product. I was accepted by the society and this really spurred me on. I have released more than 49 others and by His grace, we are still on. I really owe all the success to God almighty that deserves all the glory. I really did not think I would go this farí but you know when God is backing you up, you can only get higher and higher in life. It is from Him every good thing comes and all power belong to Him. When He is committed to a thing, that project can never fail. It is a fact that I knew God will do wonders in my life and through this ministry but I never expected it to be this much. He has been wonderful and He is still wonderful. All glory be to His name.
Which other ones equally made waves like that first one?
Elese Ronu Ko Piwada, Idajo Ma Fere De, Bibo Jesu Lekeji, Iya Ki Somi Obe and Jesu Ni Ona Ati Iye which was released in 1980 all made waves. There is sugbon Kan Nbe Laye Mi, Gbongbo Idile Jesse and many others that also have remained ever green.
How did you get inspired?
My inspiration comes anytime and anyhow. Most times, it comes from a simple encounter or experience. Let it not surprise you that most of my songs that have become evergreen were not actually rehearsed before recording. Some came in the studio, on my way to the studio, in the car, bathroom and so on. A lot of times, I will just discover that I am unconsciously sat down by God and wonderful songs will just be released unto me. That is why it is difficult for me to sing other peopleís song. All my songs are profound and original. For instance, songs like Sugbon Kan Mbe Laye Mi and Gbongbo Idile Jesse came divinely. They did not come just ordinarily and I think that is why they have remained very relevant. The way of God can never be compared to that of men. I was due for recording at Ivory Music in Lagos that day and as I drove from Ibadan to Lagos, I decided to pay a brief visit to our church around Shangisha in Lagos.
On getting there, I heard that a man who lent me N13, 000 to roof the church and who still has a balance of N6, 000 to collect from me had come with a naval officer and a journalist to embarrass and arrest me for not paying on time. I was really embarrassed and bitter. I wept and asked God why He would allow me experienced such when He knew that I borrowed the money to roof His house? I was really pained and wept within me. On the way, I got these two songs. We had prepared a different song for recording at the studio but on getting there, still weeping, the recording began. I could not stop the recording. Everybody knew I was weeping but no one knew why. But at a stage during recording, God brought the song:
Sugbon kan mbe laye mi
Emi ko fe mo latíoni lo
Oba to wo sugbon Jabesi
Wo sugbon aye wa. etc
We had no option than to switch over. My band members were already used to my extemporaneous habits of composition, so, they quickly adjusted and sang. Just before we finished recording, someone came in and said for about two months, he has been looking for me. He wanted to give me $150 sent to me by someone in America . When the money was given to me, I started weeping again, thanking God for rescuing me. I quickly gave the money to my aides to change to local currency, deduct my tithe and the N6000 I owed and use the rest to buy snacks for band members. It
was after all these had been done that I then disclosed why I was weeping and the reason for the song. Everyone got the message and was inspired the more to serve God. It was very clear that God was with us, He is still is and that He would work in the way that pleased Him. Once you are operating within His plans, you are a mere vessel that He manipulates in a way that He chooses. We are glad to be chosen by Him.
What other challenges have you faced on the job?
These are a bit many; they range from finance, jealousy to persecution from people who would be far away and judge you from hearsays and self perception. But to the glory of God, we have coped and we will continue to cope.
When was your saddest time on this job?
It was when my husband died. It is the biggest blow have suffered. I got married in 1977 when I was almost 30 and my relationship with my husband was a cordial one. I was to travel out that day and strangely, we were both sad and overwhelmed with grief. It was like we had an inkling that we were seeing each other for the last time. He was so sad that I was travelling. His head was bowed and I was downcast that I had to stay with him for another four hours. I was almost cancelling the journey but I needed to go because the ticket was already okayed and they were expecting me. I kept calling him at the slightest chance just to allay whatever unknown fear that was there. One night, I think a Saturday or Sunday, I called him for more than 10 times. He got so annoyed that he had to chastise me over waste of money. We never knew we were saying goodbye.
The next day, Sunday morning, he left Ibadan to administer the Holy Communion at the Ketu Church. As if he knew that was the last Holy Communion he would take, he went to the CAC Headquarters to buy new wine and bread. There was a tray given to us in Switzerland , which I hid somewhere, hoping to give it to the church on our wedding anniversary. He brought out the tray for the Holy Communion. He went for beautiful white clothes and new cups, unknown to him that it would be his last. I learnt he ended up stooling at the mission house and nobody did anything
to help him all through the night till the morning when he began to vomit blood. I knew that someone poisoned him, but I leave that to God. It was my saddest experience on earth. I lost him just like that. It was like he would rise up to come back and stay. It was one pain too much to bear.
When was this?
It was November 6,1995. I thought I was going to die but God came to my rescue. I couldnít understand why Godwould allow such when I was on a trip for Him. But like I said, the way of the Lord is hard to understand. No one told me that he vomited until two months after when I asked to see the clothes he wore that day. The man I suspected said they did not return with the clothes because they had blood all over and so they had to throw them into the garbage. It was then I confirmed that truly, they poisoned him. I was depressed and refused to be consoled. But the Lord said He had taken him to higher glory and that I should continue the work. He pampered me, fed me spiritually and I got hold of myself. The album I was working on before his death confirmed this. The title was to be Igba Otun De (New Era) In fact, the title was given by my husband. I could not but be strong all over again as it then dawned on me that all was preplanned by God and that he would be happy wherever he is to have me go on again.
I had to go ahead to release the album after which the Lord told me to release another three powerful Praise albums, which were released as Anointed Praise I & 11.
Do you wish to re-marry one day?
That is simply out of it for me. Bawo lose ri oju ekun si, to ni aja lo ma pa? (does the countenance of a tiger suggest that a dog can kill it?). I have been far from scandals because of what I do and I wish to keep this up by His grace. Immediately my husband died, I vowed not to marry again and that is how it will be. I am now married to Jesus, no vacancy for anyone again. If there is marriage in heaven, I will go back to Pastor Are. My integrity means so much to me.