JULIETTA, A FRESH BREATH ON THE GOSPEL MUSIC SCENE
She is used to moving from one beat to the other. First, she moved from her initial course of study to another and made a fulfilling career out of it. She was formerly trained as a lawyer but ended up working in the marketing department of a bank.
Again, she has left her plum position as a seniour manager to an entirely new terrain, gospel music.
However, leaving the bank was the hardest decision she has ever made because it is a terrain she has been used to and have excelled as a career woman.
That is Julietta Ette, the newest entrant into the Nigerian gospel music scene. Although, she has never sang in any church choir or musical group but her coming into the gospel music scene is divinely designed truly.
Listening to her inspirational and sensational songs in new album, titled Amen, it only remind us of international gospel artistes like Cece Winans, Yolanda Adams and Shirley Ceaser. The album produced to meet international standard, there is no doubt that Julietta has brought a new breath of freshness in gospel music. The album is due to be released on August 7, 2010, at the Shell Hall, MUSON Centre, Lagos.
In an interview recently, Julietta told Daily Sun that her coming into the gospel musical circut is divinely inspired. Her story is moving story in tesimony to God's healing and appreciation of His wonders.
Here are excerpts
Could you give me an insight into your background?
My name is Julietta. I trained as a lawyer. I graduated and duly called to the bar but I have had my working career as a banker. I am a mum of three and a wife
Growing up for me was a quiet life, raised by Godly parents who loved their children very much and instilled a lot of Christian values. My mum was a school principal and my dad, a civil servant. I am the third child in a family of seven
How did you come about music, your gospel music?
Well, for me, I have always loved to listen to gospel music but I never imagined myself being a gospel singer because I have never sang in any church choir in my life. Most gospel singers usually started from the local church choir. I have never sang in any choir, I have never been a member of any musical group. So, apart from singing along with the congregation and listening to gospel music, that's all it has been for me
So, how did the idea of singing come by?
My journey into gospel music started in January 2009. Suddenly, in that January 2009, I began to feel a leading from God, I began to feel a prompt from God telling me that' I want you to sing for me. It came into my ear saying, I want you to sing for me and as I hear this voice, I would hear new songs. And I would be singing and I would say but I have never heard this song before, I have never sang before and it would say sing. After hearing the song many times over, I would chicken out and try to blot out the song from my memory, yet, it would come back again.
So, I would wonder aloud where all of that were coming from. It kept on and through January, it kept on where ever I was. In the kitchen, in the room or just playing with my kids, the voice continued, I want you to sing for me. It got to a point where I got apprehensive and afraid because I kept hearing it and I would say but I am only a banker, not a singer so, how can I start singing? This is something I have never done, there is no one in my family that has ever sang in the choir. I have a seven year old who has shown signs of loving music, so I bought her a piano and enrolled her at MUSON and that's the closest I ever got near the idea of playing music. There is nobody in my family who is musical.
And then, when the voice wouldn't go away, I thought of what to do. I needed how to determine whether or not the voice was really from God or simply just my imagination.
And every February, the Redeemed Christian Church of God normally holds their annual congregational fast and much as I have desired to participate in that fast, I have not been able to because I used to suffer from chronic ulcer. The ulcer comes with excruciating pains and the doctors would say I should never go without food which of course, I adhere to.
And each time, new songs kept coming to me and I would see myself singing along so I say God if this is really you prompting me to sing, you need to permit me to go on this fast all through February and if I join in this fast, from 6 am to 6 pm. No water, no food, just the way it was supposed to be and finally, no problem arising from my ailment, then, I would know that you are the one asking me to sing. And just after I had made this agreement with God, in the same month of January, I had almost the worst attack. It was a grueling month of pains and hospital visits
After this health ordeal, were you still able to do the fast?
Beyond the ulcer, you mean?
Yes, were you able to go for the fast as was required of you?
Yes, despite how ill I was, the voice wouldn't leave me. And one night about 1am, the thing came back more seriously and I had to be rushed to the hospital and casually because the voice still persisted, I asked the doctor if I could…,
Wait a minute, in all these, were you not scared that such a strange voice persisted?
I wasn't scared but each time I kept trying to resist it but it kept ringing in my ears. It just kept coming on stronger and stronger.
Didn't you at any point tell someone of this strange voice that kept commanding you to sing for him?
No, I didn't
But why didn't you?
I just couldn't because I didn't want them to feel that maybe, I was going psychic or something. I didn't even tell my husband. I didn't tell anyone.
So, as I was saying, I asked the doctor if I could go without food like going on a period of fast but he strongly advised against it.
But because the voice didn't go away, when I felt better by January, I started the fast with no food, no milk from 6 am to 6 pm. And I did it straight for 20 days. Suddenly, on the 21st day, I began to feel that painful sensation signaling that ulcer.
Now, I worried why this sudden system upset after I had managed successfully for 20 days because for me, having put in 20 days was as good as finishing it up. And something told me that having gone this far with this fasting, I was being healed and that if I could persevere a little longer, my healing would be complete. While my mind strongly told me this, another would say I should better stop so far and eat reminding me of the doctor's advice.
In sheer determination, I continued till February 28. On this day, I stayed up late and at about 1 am, thanking God and was simply elated to have gone through the whole fasting period despite all troubles and trials from my health condition.
In a joyous mood, I was crying, praying and thanking God for healing me through and through, and right there where I was on my knees, God gave me a song entitled Thank you, Lord. He gave me all the verses of the song and I started singing it and as I made to stand up from where I had knelt, I felt a hand on me saying, keep singing, keep singing and I sang that particular song till 3 am. He gave the chorus and the entire verses. In fact, He gave me a full album and all the songs I sang just as they came to me.
How much of a Christian are you?
Well, I have been a Christian all my life but I began to hunger more, in search of God since about 1998. It was about that time that I became more serious.
How would you be able to convince people that this swift movement from the banking hall to becoming a gospel singer is not born out of the need to cash in on the band wagon effect in the Christian fold or even a function of an ailing economy?
I am a trained lawyer. I was an accomplished banker. At least, my last appointment was as a senior manager in First Bank, so I have gone past that stage of economic distress. I have held down a very plum job.
What does all of this indicate to you?
You see, in the first week of March, I knew without any doubt that apart from God healing me completely, He has called me to sing. I want people to hear and know the message. I am using this to respect, honour and tell Him that indeed, I know that He has called me and I am heeding His call. Since that time, He has given me so many songs out of six I have recorded to be released in August. I am doing it to honour God in obedience Aside obedience and in thankfulness to Him, I guess, you are also reaching out to people and telling them exactly how He has miraculously healed you?
You are absolutely correct. That's exactly what I want to do. I want to start visiting hospitals, orphanages, prisons and other institutions. I need to tell people that the power of God which we read in the bible about is still as potent as it was. We often think that maybe, it is not possible now. No, it is real and God still performs miracles. God still speaks. All we need do is to be quiet and listen and that His power to heal is ever so potent.
Would I be correct to say that this is a route to properly evangelizing and becoming God's messenger?
Indeed, you are right. With all humility, that's where my heart belongs to. As the Lord leads me, I would go.
Are you not bothered aboutwhat people would say that you left all the glamour associated with banking to go to the seemingly colourless gospel music?
Well, yes, you are again correct, but I have struggled to come out with this album as God had directed me but I am not going to shed off my beauty and glamour because I love to look beautiful. I love to look as good as I like to because. I tell you what? Coming out with this album has taken out all the courage that I ever had because even now, people are wondering how I could sing, let alone coming out with an album. Some people have seen my album and wonder whether or not I am really the one behind it because I have never sang anywhere. They find it difficult to believe. It has taken so much courage to do this and I know that it will take that same amount of courage for me to stand before people to perform. In fact, as the date of the album launch gets closer, I hear God telling me to go on.
How would you compare your secular lifestyle as a marketing executive in the bank, and your new garb as a gospel artiste?
For me, banking was good. Although, I trained as a lawyer and my first choice and desire was to work in the legal department but I was taken to marketing and I went into marketing and excelled. Of course, they are two different worlds. This is going to be a completely new experience When I was in the studio, and so many times, I found out that I wasn't just getting it right at all. As a matter of fact, I went through two different producers but I finally completed the album. Was there any point you thought of giving up?
I don't know whether to say give up but I know that at times, I would almost decide to just give someone the songs to record giving the challenges. Yes, I thought of throwing in the towel. Because I never sang, I needed to train my voice. I needed to work with different people from voice trainers to back-up singers to producers and directors whose command I must obey. It wasn't just easy but I had to. All I needed was a sense of humility. And considering all these, I knell down praying and telling God to let people hear the message and not the voice that sings the songs.
Give me a sense of the challenges of putting this album?
The challenges were enormous. And the fact that I am coming from a financial background, it gives people a wrong impression that you starched away bags of money for this project. In fact, I don't want to quantify the amount I sank into this project. I was ripped of, to say the least because of the fact that I am an entirely new comer. I had done the first production but found out that it wasn't good enough so I had to re do it because I believe that anything worth doing at all is what doing well. I always like to go for the best in anything I do and this can't certainly be an exception.
How do you feel having passed through these challenges and recording the album?
I feel great. It is a humbling experience. I just feel like let this pass and let me go back to my quiet life.
As a mother and wife, give them a sense of what you make of motherhood? Motherhood has been the most incredible experience of my life. Only this morning I saw my son and I went down memory lane and recalled how tiny they were at birth and here they are now so grown and big. For me, this period of my life as a mother is such that will give me all the time I needed to be with my family. Of course, now, I can spend the entire holiday period with them unlike when I was in the bank.
What do you make of this time that you have changed job, becoming a gospel musician and the influence it will have on your family?
Again, this experience will enable me lend support to any other person in my family walking this lane. It is a positive influence. Again, this will give me time to spend my time with my family more often.
How did it feel taking that decision to pull out of such a plum job like the bank and plunging into a terrain you do not know?
Leaving the bank was the hardest decision I have ever made. First, it was a terrain I know very much and I have excelled in my career. I was sure of my pay but here, I am going into an entirely different and new terrain, I don't know whether I will be successful there or not. So, all that bothered me though, but I had to leave because I didn't want to have divided loyalty to my employer. I felt it would be rather unfair still enjoying the fat salary package when I am not giving total dedication to the job.