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CRUSADE ORGANIZERS DROVE ME AWAY, SAYING THEY DIDN’T WANT REGGAE MUSIC

By SIMEON MPAMUGOH
Buchi
Buchi

Nigerians can now look forward to new faces in the gospel music genre when the winners of “Sing Unto the Lord and win” contest packaged under the auspices of Gmusic Reloaded begin to throw their hits into the gospel music market.

Coordinator of the project held recently at Aquatic Hall, Water Parks, Toyin Street, Ikeja Lagos, Onyebuchi Atuonwu, who is popularly known in gospel reggae scene as Buchi said – “it has been his desire for more gospel acts to join him in propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ through the medium of music”.

He further informed that it is this desire for more entrants into the scene that inspired the Gospel Music Talents Hunt, which had 300 participants. The number was later pruned to 50 semi finalists and eventually 10 finalists emerged. The star prize was N2 million and one-year record deal.

The second place runner-up got N1.5 million, and third place runner-up had N.5 million prize money, while N.1 million each went to other seven contestants, and all the prizes have been redeemed.
Buchi, who was a lecturer at University of Lagos and Phd student in English Language, also speaks on his switch from classroom to music ministry among other issues.

Remarkable event that elicited my entry into gospel music
I have several of such events but the one that jolted me was coming into the church from the secular world, and here is a pastor saying that he needed a nightclub DJ. And this was something I've done in the past. I got up and replied; I'm a DJ. He said that he wanted me to do a jingle for the church. And that the production of the jingle should be something of street-wise and not on church setting. I was stunned because he was not looking for somebody of pastors' lineage, baptized and re-baptized in the Holy Ghost. I felt good in the sense that being a DJ was a past, I would have loved to hide but it made relevance to him in that setting and in making the jingle, I got deeper in Christ.

Why I left classroom for music ministry
I didn't desert the classroom. The fact is that the demand of music ministry became more overwhelming. I found out that I have moved fully into music ministry at the expense of the classroom. I am planning to go back for another degree in Psychology.

My first musical concert
I've had so many musical concerts within the church. Churches have organized a lot of concerts that featured me. However, one day an organization from outside the church (secular) came to my local church, asked and invited me to play in Lekki Fun Splash. And again having just come into Christianity, forgetting everything about my past, I asked my pastor if I should honour the invitation, he replied in the affirmative. As I went for the concert, I discovered that I was the only gospel reggae artiste performing at the event.

When I mounted the stage, there was a billow of smoke from the atmosphere; I began to wonder how my pastor would allow me to be part of that kind of place. It was strange to sing gospel music in that kind of concert. Interestingly, there was nobody throwing anything at me. Suddenly, the smoke and noise died down and the audience became attentive, as they listened to me. The truth is that everybody loves God but not everybody knows him. At the end of the show, a young man followed me; weeping and crying, he said that he was a backslidden Christian and after listening to me, that he has decided to go back to his church. I don't know how many others were affected by that concert ministration. I cannot explain it. The gospel is for the world and not the church.

My embarrasing moments
I cannot really call it an embarrassing moment. It was in the early 80's during the beginning of my sojourn into music, I stood before hundreds and thousands of spectators in a crusade to which I was invited. As I began to sing, the organizers came and drove me out of the stage in the full view of the mass of the congregation. It was loudly announced as a mistake because they didn't want a reggae artiste. The style of my music is reggae but thematically, it is gospel. It is not the style but the message that matters. The message is gospel but the style is reggae. So, I am not ragamuffin kind of reggae artiste. The embarrassment, if you like encouraged me to be steadfast to my message and crave to be heard.

Relationship with gospel musicans association
I'm not a member of any gospel musicians association. But I have been invited to meetings by some of them. Some of the associations are not only filled with fraudulent people, they also take undue advantage of people. There was one of them that invited me to sing for them during their inauguration and launching which I honoured, only to find out later, that the event was pirated and sold as my live concert. And because of that experience, I shun any association of gospel musicians.

Most challenging album in the market
I don't have anyone. Each one of my albums appeals in different ways. I have three audio CDs and two video CDs already released into the market.

A role in Nollywood?
I have not thought of it. But I have been invited a couple of times. I might have seen it in many lights but not one of them has appealed to me.

Latest album
“Smell of Praise” is a track in the forthcoming album. People run to the Press with it, thinking it is the title of the album, but it isn't. Even some reporters just call it smell, which is also wrong. It is Smell of Praise. Whether that is going to be the title of the album which has eight tracks, is a matter that is not yet clear to me.