Many people love Gospel Music; from traditional, contemporary, praise & worship, choirs, groups, solo artists, old to new; from Rev. So-and-So Presents albums of the past to today’s Bishop So-and-So Presents; from Minister who and who to worshiptologist this did this. Yes, we fan it.
Everyone has times when they feel tired of trying or are about to give up on a hope of ever finding a way out of a bad situation or depressive state of mind. Whether or not a Christian, you may have a situation in your life that has got you down and you do not understand what else to do to make things better.
And for most of us, when we hit this rock basement, we turn to gospel music as it brings us closer to God and helps to renew hope and strengthen faith.
But what would become of it when the music loses sense and inspiration?
On so many occasions in recent history, we have heard people lament that the Gospel music industry has gone downhill. And to some degree that is most certainly true. The apostasy (the falling away of professing Christians) can be seen in the lifespan of the music itself, which is progressively becoming short and shorter, like a fad.
The fuddy-duddy critics of contemporary gospel music argue that there are more music artists who are using the ‘Gospel’ music industry as a selling tool to promote themselves and pursue fame, wealth, praise from men, power and high-standing in the world, a discussion which has become popular not only in gospel music circles but also in the overall ecclesiastical sphere.
“The lyrics are man-centred and self-centred rather than Christ-centred, even though Jesus’ name and terms from the Bible are strewn throughout the lyrics. It made me wonder, who is really being worshipped here? The creature or the Creator?” one avid fault-finder put forward.
Prominent Ghanaian cleric and General Overseer of Life Power Miracle, Pastor Love Kweku Hammond, had tongues wagging betimes this year when he spieled he would rather listen to secular music than gospel music.
Appearing on Zylofon FM radio, Pastor Love, who is ex-husband to Ghanaian gospel musician Obaapa Christy and also doubled us her manager, said gospel songs of today make little sense. He said he has stopped listening to gospel musicians because their songs carry none sensible message.
Alternatively, he opined that he would listen to dancehall stars Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy than a gospel song.
Although the comments were made in a solemn state, the public did not take him earnestly as they claimed the remarks were made by a salty spouse who was going through an acrimonious divorce with his then-wife Christy who he accused of getting pregnant with another man in Germany called Nana Franky. Instead of rationally taking it on her “infidelity” wife, they said, he was taking it all on the entire gospel music industry.
Lamentably, the disparagement of contemporary gospel phenomenon goes way back than 2018. Another stakeholder and a gospel musician of international renown, Sonni Badu, in 2009 opined that most gospel songs do not make sense.
“They lament too much instead of praising, exhorting or thanking God,” said Sonnie.
When the story was reviewed two years, Sonnie came public to apologise, simply because some people thought his words were not proper, although he was even charitable with his words.
Evidently, the mass malign did not resolve with Sonnie. In an editorial piece written by Osarfo Anthony, the writer would go as far as stating that most reggae songs are by far gospel than the so-called gospel songs.
“Most of the lyrics in their songs cannot be described as gospel. One listens to the so-called gospel songs and all that you hear are; unnecessary shouting, well-rehearsed “tongues,” wailing, preaching for material sense gratification, illusion of hopes and invocation of holy ghost which never shows up.
The themes of gospel songs in Ghana are only two. One, they tell a story of how they were neglected by their family, which many a time is false because in this day and age, the living is so tough that everyone is minding his/her own business. Nobody can carry his cross (problems) as well as that of his/her fellow; even Jesus Christ has stopped doing that.
To me, most reggae songs are by far gospel than our so-called gospel songs. Most reggae songs preach about liberation, togetherness, freedom, peace, redemption, godliness and morality. That is gospel! Not the loose lyrics supported by danceable beats packaged to us as Ghanaian gospel music.
Our so-called gospel artists should take time, go through the holy bible and select text that motivates, rejuvenates and inspires, and use them to compose quality songs for our spiritual upliftment. This earth is temporal, heaven is eternal.”
The smear campaign would go on and on with yet another gospel musician, Amy Newman, wading on the issue.
According to her, Gospel songs nowadays are not inspiring but only entertaining, which is not the best.
“I sometimes get worried and confused about the kind of songs the new crop of Gospel musicians put out. During our time, the likes of Mary Ghansah, Daughters of Glorious Jesus, Tagoe Sisters, Stella Seal and Yaw Sarpong did songs that were inspiring. The lyrics in the songs should have a positive impact on anyone who listens to it but it’s unfortunate that is not what we hear now,” she told Showbiz.
To Amy Newman, the reason why Gospel songs are not impactful anymore is that the new crop of musicians does not wait upon God before releasing their songs.
“I could pray in my room for two or three days for directions before I put out a song. After that two-day prayer, any song I released was always inspiring and made great impact,” she said.
She advised them to draw closer to the veterans so they could learn from them.
“There is nothing wrong with seeking advice from some of us. We are willing to teach these young ones,” she stated.
Although she is not completely against entertaining Gospel songs, Amy Newman wished the musicians could do more inspiring songs.
“Too much entertainment will not take us to heaven but good inspiring songs that draws one closer to God” she revealed.
Columnist Prince Botwe blames the excessive commercialism of contemporary gospel music for reducing the genre meant to preach the good news and win souls for Christ into innuendo casting grounds.
“The genre which is meant to encourage, preach the good news and ultimately win souls for Christ has turned into innuendo casting grounds…Without a shred of doubt, money wasn’t their priority. That was why healing and deliverance become part and parcel of their ministration.
However, the current crop of gospel musicians are money conscious and can go the extra miles of lying about their fellow gospel artist just to win the favor of the masses. Christians now struggle to differentiate between gospel music and highlife or hiplife.
Why? Because the current genre of gospel music is no different from that of the worldly songs. So sad and worrying that praises and worship leader unknowingly sings worldly songs in church. That is how diabolic the issue has become.
Today, we have gospel musicians who sing worldly songs and they make it seem as though it is normal. Lots of people have expressed their displeasure about the current development,”
he wrote in a piece titled Ghana Music: Is it that bad?
The cry for a renaissance in gospel music content is not only limited to Ghana, Zimbabwe or Africa but goes even to the west.
American multi-award-winning singer Kirk Franklin expressed fears that gospel music could suffer the same fate as disco or rock ‘n’ roll. He made the revelation while speaking to fellow gospel recording artist Erica Campbell on her syndicated radio show “Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell” where they discussed the decline of gospel music.
While Campbell insisted that the industry could still thrive if musicians got creative, Franklin revealed his fear that the industry could become obsolete.
“It’s not only a decline of the music but a decline of Jesus in the culture. Kids are not going to church and they’re not listening to the music anymore,” Franklin said. “So if music dies … See, my fear is, I don’t want gospel music to die like disco and rock ‘n’ roll. Nowhere in the Bible is God commanding us to do records.”
Even though Franklin won several awards this year, he explained why he was hurting for others in the industry.
“I think one of the low points for me is to see a genre that I love so much struggle so hard. And I know that you’ve got to be careful because you don’t want people to feel like you’re whining and complaining,” he said. “But it is very real that when something gets hit hard that the thing at the bottom sometimes suffers the worst. Gospel music has really taken a hit as far as the industry.”
Still, Franklin wanted to clarify he is not rigorously focused on sales.
“And again Saints, it’s not about the sales. It’s almost like with the job that you work at when you hear that your job is about to close down. … It’s like, man, what am I going to do?” he explained. “And then it hurts you more when you find out it closes down but then they took some people and put them in a nicer building.”
However, another gospel singer VaShawn Mitchell had a diverse perspective on the matter.
When speaking to The Christian Post, Mitchell said things are happening the way they should in the gospel music industry.
“I would look at it and say the gospel music industry is exactly where it’s supposed to be today. As we continue to change, we find success today is not what it was 10 years ago,” he said. “If success is selling a lot of records and that’s what our goal is, then that’s what we do. But if the success of it is making sure we try to put out great gospel music that is changing lives, then that’s what we do as well.”
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