BY ISAAC DANIEL
SHOLA ROTIMI: Reverend Rufus Olushola Rotimi popularly known as shola Rotimi is a gospel music icon that made so much impact in the Nigerian music industry with gospel music in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Rotimi who hails from Odo – Owa in Okeero Local Government area of Kwara State started his ministry, “The Shola Rotimi and the Triple S” (Saved To Serve Singers in 1972 was so renowned that he was elected National treasurer and later first vice President of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN)
He was also a two- time President of Gospel Musicians Association of Nigeria (GOMAN). At present, the accomplished gospel artiste who introduced the accordion to gospel music has relocated to the United States of America where he is the Chairman of the music department and Superintendent of Western DCC of the Christ Apostolic Church North American Convention (CACNAC).
DELE BAMIGBOYE: Pastor (Mrs.) Edna Bamidele famously known as Dele Bamigboye is the evergreen name behind gospel mega hits such as “ Oga Jesus”, God na helele”, ‘’Ranka ye de Jesu” among others. The multiple award winning singer, songwriter and cleric is presently a full time pastor, marriage counselor and writer. She ministers alongside her husband, Pastor Oludele Bamigboye. They were once South – South Regional Pastors of Winners Chapel but at present, they are the founding Senior Pastors of Higher flyers Christian Centre, located at 54 Tornbia Extension GRA, Phase 3, PortHarcourt , Rivers State. However her two bestselling albums ‘Inspiration’’ and “ I.O.U’’ still remains a reference point of gospel music excellent till date.
BOLA ARE: (MRS) Bola Are is a living legend of gospel music in Nigeria and Africa who started her band on June 16th 1973. The gospel music great who has travelled widely on music evangelism, she made her debut album in 1977 with the evergreen album “Baba Kuse” the song has remained refreshing till this day . Mama Bola as she is fondly addressed, celebrated the forty years anniversary of her debut album last year 2018. She is still very active in the music ministry and also she is among the most sought after artist for church programmers, crusade and social events. Bola Are is based in Ibadan.
GOOD WOMEN CHOIR: Evangelist Deborah Fasoyin is the legendary “Good Women Choir” in the early 70s .their evergreen song “Odun nlo sopin” has remained her music fans favorites annually during the yuletide. Notwithstanding they have released other album but are not in the class of “Odun nlo sopin”. However, Mama Fasoyin who is the most popular among the choir has gone solo and has released about five albums. She still ministering in songs on invitation but now based in Lagos.
LORINE OKOTIE: Lorine Okotie is the younger sister of Pastor Chris Okotie, the pop music king of Nigeria one time pop music king of Nigeria music industry in the 80s and early 90s .Lorine was his only sibling that followed his footstep in the music world. When he got born again and later became a pastor, Okotie who was also known as Nigeria’s Michael Jackson in his hey days established a gospel music label named “Selah Records” in the late 80s to promote gospel music, he signed and produced the album of his younger sister Lorine who was also born again . The hit pop album was titled “Love Medicine” made great impacts with songs like the title track “Love Medicine” and “Jesus I Love You”. The album which won the Nigerian Music Awards also had glamorous and pace setting videos. After this epochal album release Lorine has not been able to match this unprecedented feat but she has been in the studio recording songs and also working in the vineyard of God as an international missionary.
BROAD MARTYNS: Perhaps the most controversial and radical artiste to have ever emerged on the African continent is Broda Martyns a.k.a Mushin Olosa. Martyns real names are Dr. Martins Akaratu Balogun, he held the entire Nigeria industry spell bound when he unleashed a dramatically inspiring street gospel song “Mushin Oloosa in 1985 from his debut album “Battleaxe” in the late 80s. As an unconventional gospel act, he introduce other unusual music genre such as Afro beat to gospel music with the Afrobeat song “devil na liar “and it was also a resounding hit. The gospel music Grand Commander is committed to preaching the gospel with radical music style as not retired from the music ministry. Although, he is now a pastor a Lagos based church, he is the founder and CEO of Most High music a music label dedicated to discover and nurture young artistes.
SOJI ISRAEL: The name Soji Israel is the golden voice behind one of the most popular worship songs in gospel music history. The song is entitled “Baba” Ye Je Ki Ijoba Re De” a very favorite worship song in many churches all over the world was written and released by him in 1995. Since them, Israel has served and still serving as music director of many churches worldwide is also the renowned author of the refreshing gospel highlife tone, “Wonder, wonder” as expected the highly talented singer and song writer has taken his ministry to the world, as he is now in the United States of America as music minister and music director of a Pentecostal Church.
VOICE OF CROSS: Voice of Cross is the legendary group that emerged from Aba South Eastern commercial capital city to “arrest” the whole country and beyond with their melodious and unique gospel tunes. The group comprising of brothers Emmanuel and Lazarus, are the golden heads behind Church timeless hits such as “Satan don fall for gutter o, match am match am”, Halleluyah Jesus conquer the world “, “Good morning Jesus” and many others. This talented musical brothers who started out as choristers in the Assemblies God Church, Aba, Abia State, have relocated to the United States and no longer active in the music ministry. They are now pastors of a fast growing ministry they founded over there.
TOUN SOETAN: Toun Soetan is a teacher, music minister evangelist and counselor the Ibadan, Oyo state gospel artistes starteed her ministry with her band, “Toun Soetan and her trinity singer in 1988. But it is now known as trinity world evangelical ministries as Soetan has become a full time evangelist she had evergreen albums and church anthems such as lye Ree, “Train up your child”, “Gbe Jesus Ga”, a very popular praise song in the Christian circles. These days, Soetan ministers more with word and films, featuring more in Mount Zion films. She also organizes training programmers for younger singer under her periodical praise clinic.
DE – EMMANSONS: Reverend Joel and Pastor (Mrs. Melody Emmanson (formally Bose Oni ), are internationally celebrated gospel musicians. Their ministry started in 1987 when they met in a programme as guest artistes and later got married. Before their marriage in 1991, Melody Emmanson the undisputed golden voice of gospel music has released two successful albums “I know whom I believe ‘and Gba Aiye Mi Oluwa”. However, their national and international limelight came after their marriage when they released classic albums such as “God is bigger than any mountain”, “Friends with Jesus” “ Anoiting, “ “Hosanna Africana”, “My wonderful God” and others . They are presently the founding pastors of Praise way Church in Lagos, but minister in songs where the occasion arises
KARIS BAND: The Karis band was founded in 1986 by Reverends Ekpenyong and Pat Bassey to win souls. The bands has given birth to top gospel artistes like Sammie Okposo , Nathaniel Bassey,Agboola Shadare (US Based), Bukky Lewis, Hope Isesere (US Based) among others is still waxing strong in the gospel music scene ,the band introduced professional artistes costumes and also released some popular gospel songs like ‘Thank you so much lord Jesus’ is been managed now by her fourth generation members as the Ekpenyongs better known as Papa and Mama Karis have retired into full time cleric ministry.
DC ENVOYS: The desirable Christ envoys popularly known as DC envoys was founded in Warri Delta State in October 1992 by Obus Buluks (now Obus Zaale ),Godwin Korome (now Gordons) and Festus Okporia in the early 90s. The highly talented group with lots of drama, creativity and comical displays are the original composers of the grand gospel hit “Jesus I Thank you Wellu Wellu “ the song which was rehearsed, re-released and made popular worldwide by Sammie Okposo . The impressive thrill also gave Nigerian gospel music another hit song titled “Na so” Unfortunately the group has disbanded and the members have pursued their separate personal life visions. Obus is now a broadcaster with Max radio Lagos, Gordon is now a celebrated comedian and an GLO Ambassador, Festus is into Artiste Management in Warri.
GBEMI OLALEYE: Pastor (Mrs.) Racheal Gbemi Olaleye one of the reigning gospel songstress in the late 80s and early 90s. The professional nurse turned gospel artiste became very popular with the release of her hit album “letter Ayo” The title song was so delicious that it is still imparting lives at the moment. Olaleye after releasing other album such as “get up” took a break from the music scene and returned to her nursing profession in the United Kingdom after about a decade she made her return with “Ore Ofe” album and video on Okay House Label, but the album did not make the kind of buzz “Letter Ayo” did. The elegant songstress is now ministers alongside her evangelist husband, Bishop Abraham Olaleye during crusades church programmers and various outreaches globally
PANAM PERCY PAUL: Dr. Panam Percy Paul Mokunga, the globally acclaimed gospel artiste from Adamawa State is a prolific songs writer and singer. He is also an accomplished producer and founder of his musical label, the “Panam Music World”. Panam as he is fondly called is based In Jos; Plateau State is the man behind most of the great praise and worship songs used in churches in Nigeria and beyond. Since his historic and revolutionary debut in 1976 with the album “Dynamic Good News,” he has remained one of the most formidable forces in gospel music in Nigeria and Africa. His repertoire boost of landmark songs such as “My body is your sanctuary”, ‘’ Praise God in the African way”, ‘’Bring down your glory’’ and a host of others. The gracefully aging ‘man of great songs is still in full time music ministry, he is very, very musically active. He attends to invitations for ministration from his Jos base and has recently added word ministration to his ministry.
KINGSLEY IKE; Kingsley Ike will always be remembered for igniting the gospel music world with his classic crossover smash hit track “Wamilele” from his Kennis Music released album, “Keep Moving”. He introduced soukus genre into gospel music with the song which was a massive hit both in the gospel and secular circles in the early 90s, topping many radio top 10 charts across the nation for over eight months. The song which still hot in the gospel music scene earned him all prestigious awards in Nigeria. The Imo State-born singer and songwriter who earlier declared that his vision and greatest desire is to preach the gospel of Jesus to the world and to reach the entire ends of the earth is now a full time pastor of his Abuja based ministry, “Greenfield Church”