Fast-rising and wave-making gospel music act Bidemi Olaoba, in this interview with Adedayo Adejobi, speaks on his latest song ‘Bonjour’, his collaborations with notable mainstream artistes like Mike Abdul of the Midnight Crew, fusing non-traditional musical elements to create high energy praise and worship, and reflected on life, God and his music ministry

Give us a peep into your growing up and career?
Well, my name is Abidemi Ayodeji Ogunmolu born into a family of six. I grew up being in the choir from my early years in Christ Apostolic Ketu. From time to time, individuals would walk up to me and tell me I have a nice voice and that I could sing and that’s how it all started. I led songs a few times and from there I developed my interest in singing. I have since then been ministering from Church services to concerts to weddings and service of songs.

Have you always wanted to do music?
Yes. I’ve always been a lover of music. Although I went to the Institute of Technology, Yaba, and studied Civil Engineering, I don’t see myself using that degree. Since I have realised and developed my interest in music, my motto has always been ‘Praising God is my lifetime commitment’. I don’t intend to break that motto for anything as long as God gives me the grace in Jesus name.

How did your interest in music begin?
Well, I never knew I could sing really. I remember when I was much younger and pushed to the children’s choir. I would just open my mouth and sing the choruses we were taught then. But when I was opportune to take lead, many people would applaud me, telling me of how well I did and how they experienced the move of God. From there, I realised that I’ve developed an interest in singing and much more. It’s a calling, a ministry that God has gifted me with.

How would you describe your kind of music?
Gospel high life! All the way.

What are some of your biggest musical influences?
I find myself putting a limit on what I listen to as it pertains to other genres. I have to make sure I’m guarding my ears because my ears lead to my mind, which leads to my heart.

Are you signed to any record label?
No, I’m not.

Why gospel and not R’N’B or soul music?
God caught me at an early age and day by day I realise I’m a product of grace. There are two principal forces in the world; God and Satan. Scriptures say heaven and earth will pass away but only God’s word will remain and I cannot withhold that from the world to know. And as such I choose daily to pass this on the best way I can through music!

The gospel music scene is a bit overcrowded. How do you intend to set yourself apart?
God is the one who sets people apart. My own is just to yield to Him and that’s all I plan to do for as long as He helps me.

What’s the biggest crowd you have performed in front of and where?
Off hand, I’d say 2,000 and that’s at the Messiah Marathon Praise yearly held at RCCG Lagos Ibadan Express Way.

What inspires your songs?
It’s not what, it’s who. The Holy Spirit gives me inspiration. This could come when in my quiet place or sometimes when I’m worshipping.

Take us through your new album/single.
My most recent single, soon to be released is ‘Bonjour’. It is a French word which translates “good morning”. It’s basically about realising that the gift of life comes from God and when I wake up I must acknowledge God as my source and in so doing I say ‘good morning’ .

Any collaboration?
Yes, I have a song #FinalSay with Mike Abdul.

What inspired the songs?
I was just studying one day and the words ‘Final say’ dropped in my spirit. And before I knew it, meat was added to what seemed like dry bones and God be praised.

If you were to be 18 again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, nothing. I have no regrets whatsoever!

If not music, what else?
Hmmm… that’s a tough one. Maybe a pilot
How would you describe the Nigerian music industry?

Progressive. Over the years it has made a name in the market both national and international.
What are you most afraid of?
Failing God. I don’t ever want to make that error.
Which artistes have you played with?
Yinka Ayefele. I was part of his band.

If one artiste were to perform at your party, who would get the call?
Don Moen! Great carrier of God’s anointing!

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Still doing music, married and settled with my twins.
Which artistes would you most like to meet – dead or alive?
Don Moen.

In your opinion, what’s the best song ever recorded?
An inspirational song titled ‘You raise me up’, written by Brendan Graham, and originally composed by Irish-Norwegian duo Secret Garden.

Can you describe yourself in three words?
Quiet, quick thinker and humorous.
What would you not travel without?
My Bible.

If you had the power to ban one thing in the world, what would that be?
Hard drugs.
Who is the most famous person you have met?
Pastor E. A. Adeboye. I performed for him in Dubai.
What does the future hold for Bidemi?
A lot.

Any plans for marriage?
Yes, by God’s grace.

How do you deal with female fans?
Try to be as friendly as possibly as I can.

Every new generation of contemporary Gospel music inevitably suffers some form of backlash from traditional listening audiences. What do you say to those conventional criticisms?
I understand that we go from glory to glory and faith to faith. I really don’t see their criticism as, “Oh, they’re against us.”

Having worked in the music industry, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
The biggest lesson that I learned is that I have to control or manage my life because the career can consume me. I don’t want the career to consume my life. My ministry has to understand that I will have a family, and I want my family to understand that I have a ministry. So, trying to manage that will be the biggest challenge I see.

As a Gospel artiste and a road musician, what are some of the challenges that you face day-to-day from being in various church settings? Do you find it difficult to get fed spiritually?
On the road, you have to make the time or you will get strained. Every week – every Monday – we have rehearsal. Before rehearsal, we get our time to refresh, to get more back into ourselves. I keep in touch with my home church, Siloam fellowship and I have a good line with my pastor. We have our time of refreshing at least once a while.

You have developed a reputation for having an Energiser Bunny kind of energy during your live performances. How do you sustain such high levels of energy?
I keep a healthy diet. I don’t really worry about the exercise part because we get that when we’re on the stage.

Do you ever wonder why God chose you to do what you do?
Yes, everyday. I’m a musician. I don’t know why he chose me to be in the forefront. I can see now, maybe, because I’m a little crazy. I’ll say anything He wants me to say. That’s probably one reason why He chose me.