I WAS A DRUG ADDICT —TELEMI
Evangelist Timi Osukoya a.k.a. Telemi will be 50 on 5 January, 2008. He spoke with us about his past and other issues
Q: Evangelist Timi Osukoya, or has the designation changed?
A: Well, whatever you call me, I still remain the servant of God. I am Timi Osukoya (Telemi).
Q: You will be 50 soon?
A: I will be 50 on 5 January, 2008 and that day is a Saturday. We will be having a thanksgiving service in my church and a reception later.
Q: So you are actually going to be 50?
A: Well, to the glory of God, it is a grace I will soon be 50.
Q: Looking back, what have you lost and gained?
A: Yes, looking back, I am bold to say that I have not lost anything. Since I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I have not lost anything, so I have no regrets.
Q: Is there anything you thought you should have done early which you did not do at that time?
A: Well, nothing much, but my feeling is that I believe that I should have given my life to Jesus Christ earlier than when I did, but at the same time, I thank God.
Q: When you started Gospel singing, I mean when you released Telemi, you had not given your life to Jesus Christ
A: Yes, I gave my life after the third album entitled Revelation.
Q: How did that happen?
A: It happened during a programme in Baruwa area, Ipaja-Ayobo local government in 1993. During ministration, I felt something was missing in me and that was when I gave my life to Christ.
Q: So there is a difference between gospel artiste and a Christian?
A: Yes, gospel artistes are those that deliver songs through music but all gospel artistes are not Christians, because Christians are those who have the features of Jesus Christ. Some people are church goers but not Christians.
Q: But gospel artistes claim to be Christians?
A: Well, anybody can sing gospel without being a Christian, more so that the industry has been commercialised.
Q: Looking back to the time of Telemi, Ileya and Revelation, how will you rate gospel music?
A: Yes, gospel music is no longer what it used to be. There are lots of manipulation and other things. But I know that one day, we will get there because our fans now know the difference between real gospel and adulterated ones. I know it will get to a level when our fans will not be able to stomach it again.
Q: What is the future of gospel music?
A: As I said earlier, in a very short moment, there will be sanity in gospel music industry because those who buy our works are now conscious of what they buy. I can tell you authoritatively that there will be sanitisation. Things will be more coded, among other things.
Q: Now, there is Yahoozee, Tungba and other things in gospel music. Is that a good omen for the industry?
A: Music is God and God is music. If the purpose of your gospel is to make money, you will just be there making money, but if the purpose is to glorify God, the reward will be there. As a gospel music artiste, two things make you. Your personality and your work. If your work is good and your personality is not, it still affects your works. So, as gospel singer, there is need to do something about your life.
Q: After the release of Revelation, there was a drop in your popularity, what happened?
A: Not really, but there were some things in the industry like those of us who are actively participating in the industry don't have a round table to discuss the industry. Like marketers, artistes and others. I later learnt that the burden was so much on the artiste to the extent that when you release your album and give it to radio presenters, they will be demanding some ridiculous amount to the extent that you wonder if there is no professionalism in the industry. If I can afford such an amount of money, what of those coming behind me? There was an experience I will never forget and that was after the release of Revelation. Kenny Ogungbe came to me to demand for the work and the past one. When I gave him the CD, he converted it to DAT. It was later that I learnt that to transfer CD to DAT cost over N11,000. So, how many people can afford that? But he did it free of charge.
Q: Are we expecting an album for your 50th birthday?
A: Oh yes, I am currently in the studio working on a new album. There will be a tribute song for my birthday and songs of praise to God, our creator.
Q: How do you cope with the ministry and life as an artiste?
A: I have been coping, by January 2008, it will be 22 years that I have been singing. I will celebrate that later but there is no vision God will give to you without telling you how to go about it.
Q: Why did you decide to run a church?
A: For me, to run a church was a great pressure from God. In fact, it almost took my life and those of my children.
Q: Was the burning of your studio and other things that happened to you part of it?
A: Well, God knows everything. I know the studio was gutted by fire. The way it was put out, I don't know. But after the studio was burnt, God told me 'you are no more in this level but higher level.' That was why I came out with the song Higher Level. I was making hit songs, my works were all over the place and God left me for four years, but when it was time for Him to act in 1997, I suffered insomnia, that is lack of sleep for that year. I was living on drugs. There was a time a woman recommended Lagatin, the drug for a psychiatric patient. If I took Valium 5 or 10, I would only sleep for five to 10 minutes, but when I asked God, He said 'go ahead, at least, you are stubborn.' God told me gather people to praise him. When I heard God's command, I have never taken any drug, not even ordinary paracetamol.