Energetic, playful, humble, funny, and frank. He is armed with a strong vocal prowess capable of getting the audience on their feet for hours non-stop. Bidemi Olaoba needs no introduction within Nigeria’s contemporary gospel circle. He speaks with Adedayo Adejobi on how he nurtured his dream, the challenges, and inspiration behind his songs. Olaoba also talks about when the wedding bells would ring. Excerpts:
When did you discover you were sold on the idea of becoming a gospel singer?
I discovered God’s call on my life at age 14. I remember I was still in secondary school at that time.
Have you always wanted to do music?
I’ve been a lover of music yes. Although I went to the Institute of Technology, Yaba to, study 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.
Who were/are your mentors in the music ministry?
My mentors are Nathaniel Bassey, Mama Bola and My Pastor Seun Folarin of Siloam Apostolic Ministries.
Tell us about your little beginnings. How did you nurture your dream?
I nurtured my dream by using my gift as a singer for the service in my local church back then.
What challenges have you faced so far as a recording artist?
The greatest challenge any young music minister can face is a broken face, and that has been my challenge. But God has helped me so far to keep my eye solely on him.
Do you hope to be signed to any record label soon?
I plan to drop my debut album By October 2018 by the Grace of God. I am not under any record label at the moment and I am not in a hurry either.
What kind of atmosphere or mood inspires you to write your songs?
I write songs when I sense the grace upon me to do so per time.
What inspires your songs?
The Holy Spirit gives me inspiration. This could come when in my quiet place or sometimes when I’m worshipping.
What is it like being a single gospel artiste and how do you manage advances from female fans?
Been a single artiste hasn’t been easy. But God will perfect that area soon.
Does that suggest that the wedding bell is ringing anytime soon?
Yes, the wedding bell will ring soon.
When you are on stage ministering, who do you see yourself reaching out to?
I have been anointed by God to heal the broken hearted, people who have lost hope. I try to inspire young adults to focus on The Word because that’s the only way we can have a personal relationship with Jesus and most importantly bring people to Jesus.
How would you describe your style of music and what kind of people does it appeal to?
My genre of music is Highlife, but I like the coinage Fuji Blues because it has both fast and slow tempo paced. It appeals to the old and young.
Has popularity affected your lifestyle in anyway? And how do you keep it real?
Well, I can’t and I don’t live a fake life. Being a celebrity hasn’t changed me. I am who I am and as real as I was before attaining the celebrity status.
Where do you want to be in the next few years?
In a few years from now, I see a beautiful family for myself and greater exploits for Jesus. I would also want to own a music school to inspire the younger generation who still wants to do gospel music. Gospel music is not boring it depends on how you see it. In the next few years, I want to be a coach, mentor and a cheerleader to many.
Which gospel artists do you dream of sharing the stage with someday?
Don Moen. He is a great carrier of God’s anointing!
What do you fear most?
I’m most afraid of, God forbid, not making heaven. Aside that, nothing else scares me.
Who would you most like to meet – dead or alive?
What would you not travel without?
I won’t travel without my diary and Bible.
If one artist was to perform at your party, who would get the call?
Mama Tope Alabi.
Who is the most famous person you have met?
The most famous personality I have met is Pastor E.A Adeboye.
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.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Quiet, quick thinker and humorous.
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 artist 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.
What does the future hold for Bidemi Olaoba?
The future can only be better. I have hope because Christ in me the hope of glory.