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Apostle Funso Korode, Choirmaster-General, Cherubim and Seraphim Church Movement, Surulere District, (Ayo ni o), is a founding member of the legendary gospel band. A songwriter, composer, and a drummer, Korode currently shoulders the responsibility of managing the choristers in almost 70 branches of the church worldwide, administratively and spiritually.

Already, preparations are in top gear for the yearly Choir Day Music Fiesta slated for Saturday, May 19. Aside that, Korode says that this year's concert is coming with a difference. In addition to the traditional features: Music, dance, drama, the bandleader disclosed that the concert is moving out of the church's auditorium to the open-air. So, why is the church opting for an open-space? The choirmaster speaks on this initiative, expectations from the show, its success and staying power, and why work is yet to complete on its digital recording studio.

I am Funso Korode. I hail from Omu-Aran in Kwara State. I had my primary schooling at ECWA School and a stint at Baptist School, Zaria for my secondary education. I came back to ECWA School to complete my secondary education. I also attended Government Secondary School, Ilorin after which I moved on to Offa Grammar School for my Higher School Certificate course.

From there, I gained admission into the University of Lagos from where I bagged my Bachelor and Masters degrees. I worked with the United Bank for Africa for 22 years and I retired as an Assistant General Manager. I had a stint with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as a Management Development Consultant and currently, I'm the Registrar, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM). I also write Christian books.

Choir Day, 2007
We're looking forward to something special. We want to reflect the mood of the season. Essentially, we are treating issues on contemporary developments in our land. What we're trying to do essentially is like taking the problems of individual and corporate Nigerians to the Supreme Court of God.

The idea is that, if before now, Nigerians are in search of an elixir that would turn life into gold, or, at least, show us the way out of the rot that we're in, it is important for us to know where we should direct our focus. When the focus is right, the vision will be right also. In the same guise, we have come to the realisation that to get out of that rot, we must return to God.

In getting round the problem, we're also trying to answer the question rhetorically, is there a balm in Gilead? We believe that there is a balm in Gilead. Is there a saviour for Nigeria? We're saying that there is, " Jesus is the truth, the way and the life.
This year's theme is: Balm in Gilead (BIG). The theme was picked from the book of Jeremiah 8:22. The real story is: What is the balm all about? It is an ointment that heals, and preserves things from corruption.

So, everything we'll be putting together will demonstrate the efficacy of prayers; and belief in Jesus Christ; faith and other things joined together.
It points out the need for people to be patient in the Lord and to know that the end will eventually prove that God is the all-in-all for us. There will also be drama sketches that will show some of these things.

Why open air concert?
One of the reasons is that, increasingly, the auditorium is becoming choky. People have advised us on the need for us to move out. Our first test with an open-air concert will be done within the church's premises. Apart from capturing the event, we want to expose the show to a larger audience and see what we can make out of this before we go into multi-acre assemblies. I agree that there will be challenges, but if you don't challenge the challenges, you cannot overcome. You never can say, this trial may be our image-maker.
The issue of finance has become a constant challenge. When it comes to finance, we leave it to God.

New album
A number of factors have tilted our plans in that direction. Last year, we didn't produce an album, but by God's grace, at the end of this year's Choir Day, we'll have an album. The album entitled: Blood of Jesus is already completed; and it's enjoying some promotion by Mut Mukson Records.
Guest artistes
I won't give you their names now. I want to be sure that, whoever we have invited will be present on the D-day. As soon as we get confirmations from them, we'll provide you with their names.

Band's evolution
I've mentioned it a number of times that the present choir did not come into being until the summer of1972. I was at the University of Lagos at that time and I was coming from the campus to participate in what we knew as parlour congregation then.

In a particular year, they called those who had testimonies to come forward. By the time everybody had come forward except the choir, we reminded them that they have not called the members of the choir. That was in 1971. I remembered singing the song, Halleluyah, Jesus loves me and the congregation then chorused. That marked the real beginning of the choir. By 1978, we came up with our debut album.

At that time, we challenged ourselves to produce two albums per year. Also, we had the singular opportunity because many of them were young and upwardly mobile then. Gradually, the activity level slowed down. One, because we had problems with our promoters, who got more involved in video films. That constraint propelled us to higher level. There was a time we literally went on our own. We succeeded in producing five albums. But, by the time we are made up, Mut Mukson resumed the production of our records.

We also faced the problem of personnel. Those who were our strong hands travelled abroad after our Silver Jubilee anniversary in 1998. We had to start a new crop of choir and that affected us. Now, we are back on our feet. We're firmly on ground.

Sustaining the choir
You can't achieve success without succession and there can't be succession without a successor in place. So, that's what we're doing. But the degree of spiritual commitment is an area we want them to develop and that's what we're working on.

Initially, the rule here was that, if anybody would sing in the choir, he/she should not have a private band, but gradually and owing to the economic situation in the country; we realized that we could not deny them that for too long. These are some of the things that get our youths distracted occasionally. Nevertheless, we still ensure they don't stray away from the right path.

Talent hunt/grooming talents
If you travel to the USA and Europe, most of the people leading various choirs there are products of C & S Ayo ni o. Wherever they find themselves, they will showcase their competence and spirituality. Apart from that, some of them have private bands. Poachers who also attend our concerts also hunt for budding talents. That was how Azadus left. But I say this very strongly that we grow talents and we later allow them to develop on their own.

Combining music with office work
It's a balancing act. That is why I spend the whole of my Sunday in the church. But, on other days of the week, I manage the Institute of Personnel Management and to God be the glory, we have been getting results. You only have to itemise your duties and place them on order of priorities. There are time frames for everything and individual intend to achieve and that is what strategic planning really entails.

I studied management in my first and organizational behaviour at masters level. Moreover, when people complain that they are busy, it could be that they are not working hand-in-hand with other people around them. You only need to plan your time well and allow God to do the rest