- International Gospel Singer *Songwriter * Recording and Performing Artiste
Nigerian-born international gospel singer, songwriter, recording and performing artiste Ada Ogochukwu Ehi, popularly known by the stage name ADA, started her musical career at the age of 10 as a backup singer for child star, Tosin Jegede. Since she professionally started her music career under Loveworld Records in 2009, she has increasingly gained local and international popularity through her songs and music videos, inspiring and lifting a lot of souls with her song. In this interview with MARY NNAH, she talks about her latest works and how she has evolved in the gospel music sector
As a gospel singer particularly, you always stand out in your mode of dressing. What do you always have in mind when dressing up you for a show or production?
I really love fashion. I love looking good and I love to see people look good. Personally when I see you look good, it tells me a lot about you and whatever you want to tell me, I want to hear because you seem to be well put together.
I don’t know where that notion came from; maybe from the time when churches think Christians should not really be cool in their dressing; they just felt that any one that carries the message of God should look a certain way. But I don’t think so because my Bible tells me that He paints the streets with gold. But I think fashion is an outward expression of an inner person. And I feel that if you are representing someone, you should look like the person you are representing. The God of the rainbow, the God of the seasons, the mountains and the beautiful forests is not a one styled Being. He is the same God that made red hair, brown eyes, green eyes, tall and short people; varieties is His order of the day. So, that same God cannot be represented in one certain way.
For me, if it is gospel on the stage, it should be gospel of the stage. What I can’t wear off stage, I shouldn’t wear on stage. So, in this dispensation of Christ, God lives in me, so if I cannot wear what I wear in my house where God lives, that means I cannot wear it elsewhere. So, I just feel that the most important thing about anyone’s dressing is to be decent but good looking. I mean, if for nothing else, be like the person you represent. You represent God. I don’t think there is anything wrong in looking good. The problem should be indecency.
What has been going on with you and your music?
I have been working on a new album and I‘ve been also taking my time to grow as an individual and to improve on myself. Now, I think I’m almost ready for a new album. It is like how you go through phases and develop into a more matured craftsman, in my own case, music – a better musician and as a Christian, spending more time with the word of God, get to know this Person that I believe in better and inevitably become a better person.
Talking about being ready for another album, tell us, when was the last time you released content?
Last year, I put out an EP, precisely on April 26, ADA’s EP Volume 1. I had a lot, like five songs and I couldn’t make up my mind on which one, so I had to put out all of them. Then I also released some videos from my tours.
It hasn’t been long you released some contents and now you are preparing for another round. Is it that easy?
Well, it is not like it is easy but you know like I have given myself to what I do, to music and to my ministry. I have invested myself into it. So, it is a part of me, I put everything in it, so it is the life that I live. It is not like leave it and come back to it later. Music is my life.
So let’s talk about the songs that are still in the making.
Right now I am putting out some singles up until the main album comes. The first single I am putting out is titled, “Settled”. It has just been released. “Settled” is about the name of Jesus settling all things. In the name of Jesus it is settled. For me, it is a prophetic prayer song. When you say prophetic – for those who don’t understand this biblical term, it is to speak ahead, so “Settled” means that whatever it is would be settled in Jesus name. The song says, everything has changed and I would never be the same again. It’s settled in the name of Jesus. That’s what the song says.
What inspired the song?
I have had that song for a while. I have actually produced it in different ways with different producers giving different expressions. There were all excellent expressions but I just felt that this is the right sound for the song and I just found the best direction for the expression for the song. It is the beginning of another year, so rather than just making New Year resolutions, you need to have a mindset that everything has changed and I would never be the same again. So, change is a process – it is not just about money or hard time but also your outlook to life. Change is something that is constant, so you have to constantly indulge in things that will help you change, so that you don’t decline.
What next after “Settled”?
Like I said, I am working on an album and a lot of singles are coming out this year. I am really excited about these contents because they are coming from a more personal place. It is not just what I feel. These are songs that I have experienced, they have blessed me, and so I can’t wait to share them with the world.
What would you describe as the challenges in the process of coming up with your latest songs?
There was a time I used to look outward but the moment I realised that if you can conquer the person within – whatever fear, whatever challenge, if you can win within, in the physical, it is a walk over. If I can make up my mind enough to do something … So, I didn’t have challenges, I just went through a process encountering God in different ways. And then making a conscious effort to committing more to my work with God, to understand Him, and try to know Him beyond what I have known – going deeper and insisting on seeing God in every situation. I insist on seeing God in every situation because it changes a whole lot. I am a better minister because I have a deeper relationship with the message I have. I can say that I am one with my message right now. Not like I wasn’t before but I have come deeper. So, I am very excited about the songs because they are different. I believe that the impact would be much more than what I can even imagine. So, I didn’t have any external challenges, the challenges were within. I just had to take time to understand this message much more. There is a difference between where I am coming from and where I am right now.
What differentiates your recent songs from the ones you have had in the past?
I have evolved as a musician and there is something I always take pride in … when I listen to my past works and current works, there is always a distinct improvement all round. From the writing, singing, the arrangement to the production and then my understanding and relation to what I am singing, is truer for me and not just some religious things put together to make religious people all over the world feel good.
When I look at what I have done in the past and when I look at my present songs, I personally can see the improvement. I can hear it, feel it and for me that is priceless. So, that’s why I am more excited because I owe myself to improve constantly.
Were there times you made songs and then felt disappointed after listening to them?
There are so many songs that you hear in your head and your heart and them when you make them, they don’t quite sound like what you heard in your mind. These are part of what you experience in your growing process. So, like I said, these are not the first version of the songs that I am putting out now and not even the third version but I have learned patience – like to follow through the process. There was a time when you feel like, yes, I have already done it and I would put it out there and then you find out that they turn out to be a waste. But now I have come to realise that songs have times and seasons. And to get the best expression of anything, you have to be patient. I have a song right now but I don’t like the way it is sounding that does not mean it’s a bad song, especially if I believe in the message and melody; I just have to re-approach it. There was a time that it was like a big deal when a song doesn’t sound like I wanted but I have grown to know that is not the end of the world. I move on to another song while I try to examine the song, trying to find out why I am not satisfied with the output. So, from experience and maturity, we have learned that every song has its own expression; you just need to find the best expression to that song.
How do you feel when you put a song out there and it is like boom! And then it’s like an anthem on everyone’s lip?
It’s just amazing. It is just like when God says He will bless you and then He blesses you and you are like wow! It is like a boost that you can never explain. I think it adds 10 years to my life each time it happens so. It just gives you this confidence that of a truth there is God because it doesn’t happen all the time, so when one song someone sings resonate with everybody, especially when it starts to unfold, you would then start to question yourself whether it is really your song for real. So, it’s priceless and it is beyond an award. It is something nobody can take away from you and then it has a way of humbling you because somethings are just beyond you.
As a wife and mother how do you cope with work and taking care of your home?
It is a lot sacrifice. Like I was speaking to a group of women the other day, I told that that when you are a career woman and you want to be at the top of any industry, you have got to pay the price and forego a lot of things that would have ordinarily give you some pleasure.
There is no woman that is more of a woman, we are all same- women, it is just that some women are willing to sacrifice more. Some women are willing to wake up earlier; some are willing to give up those Indian or American series on TV, which some other women watch from day break till 12 midnight. The few times I tried following a series, I paid heavily for it because I was trying to catch up leaving other things undone. So, I was telling the women that these things are good but you have to weight it against where you are going. We are wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and friends, so every of these people needs us, they cannot suffer because of our career. But then, some of these things, like idle chats, will have to leave the table to make room for other things. So, it is sacrifice. So, I try to manage my time to the best of my ability. Like when I am not working, that time should be for the family, friends, home work, cook and all of that. By the time I am done with all of that I am very tired. So, it’s sacrifice.
As a gospel artist, would you say music has been financially fulfilling for you?
Oh, yes, very well! As for me, the goal wasn’t to make money, not that we didn’t expect to make money. But I am not singing for money so we don’t talk about the money, so people feel like oh, they are not making money and because that is not the goal, you don’t find it reflecting, maybe when you check our social media. We are just simple people, so it seems like we are not making money. You know, when you are a gospel artiste it simply means that the Lord is your boss. Trust me, He pays the bill, He doesn’t just pays the bills, He supplies much more, pressed down, shaken together and running over and that’s what He does for me.
If you weren’t a gospel singer, what else would you have been?
I love acting. I think I would have been an actress or a scriptwriter, a content creator, a producer or a director because my mind is so creative. And maybe I would have been a designer. Or I would have been into fashion.
You husband has played a very important role in your role in your career. Can you talk about that and how this has contributed to who you are today?
Well, like every wife who has a career, if your husband does not support you, it is going to be very hard. Due to the society we belong, we were all raised to believe a women’s place is in the kitchen. So when you marry a husband who believes in such, it is headache. But when you marry a husband who believes in the dreams of the wife, it is very liberating because not only will she be free to excel but will do very well. So, my husband is amazing on all level because he is not just supporting but he is pushing. I can say both of us are ADA because he dreams for me and runs with me. He does not just say, “Okay, okay” but he believes in this thing, maybe even more than I do. So he is very hands-on and everything ADA needs to succeed is what his priority is. Several times, for me to keep up with my schedules, he does things in the home front a whole lot of times. And most of the times, I travel he does not travel with me because our kids are very important to us. So, he is just stays around with the kids. He is like everything to me.
So, I can’t thank God enough for him. As a matter of fact, I would not be who I am and where I am if not for him.
What’s your advice to upcoming artists?
They should learn to be patient. Someone’s timing is not your timing and you are not anybody else but yourself. So, give yourself the opportunity to have a unique story. Don’t try to tailor yourself to somebody else’s story because you might just deprive the world of the beautiful story that would have been you. So, be patient, and understand that you are different; your timing and your season are different. Then don’t allow peer pressure or pressure of the social media influence you negatively.