THE SINGING COUPLE BY AHMED BOULOR

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THE SINGING COUPLE BY AHMED BOULOR 21/04/12 on THE NATION

Married with kids, singing couple, Olubukunola and Damilola Bekes are both gearing up for the release of their individual albums set for launch on May 6. The couple who share a passion for music have been keeping faith with the art, despite not making any profit from music. They spoke about their individual albums, their journey as gospel artistes and the challenges of the job in this interview with AHMED BOULOR.

LET'S get to meet you? My name is olubukunola Bekes; I am a gospel singer and I am working on releasing my third album which will drop very soon. I've had two others in the past but I am about to release the third one into the music market. The album promises to be soul lifting and it will minister to those who need spiritual reform. What's the title of the album?

The title of the album is Mighty God and most of the songs on the album were inspired by God; the songs also talk about the greatness of God. How long have you been singing?

I've been singing right from my tender age; singing is a gift and a talent for me and I displayed most of my singing skills when I was young in the children choir in church. My immense talent was noticed at the time and I was later moved to the major choir in church. Tell us about your last two albums?

The first album is entitled I am tired of the valley and it was released in 2006 and the second one is Arewayo released in 2001. Did you succeed in making any financial gains from your last two albums?

I did not make any meaningful financial gain from my last two albums because of the issues of marketing and distribution. There were no financial gains whatsoever from releasing those albums but my joy is that the songs on the album are blessing souls. Having not gained financially from your last two albums, what efforts are you putting in place to ensure that you profit from your third album? That is why we are planning vigorously to ensure it is a success; we intend to have a very big launching for the album and if we get something tangible from the launch we will be okay with that. If anything comes out of it after that we will consider that as extra profit. What efforts are you putting in place to ensure that your album is properly marketed and distributed when it is eventually released? The major issue concerning effective record sales is marketing and distribution; in producing the song, you use your money to do everything; you go to the studio, voice the song and at the end of the day you get someone to market the song. If the marketer says he wants to buy a copy of the album at the rate of N40 how do you now break even? If you factor in the cost of production, mixing and mastering then it becomes more than that. We have issue of marketing but if you are able shoot a good video, then maybe someone may chose to sponsor you. We are also looking at selling the album on the internet and with that we will then have a global platform to sell the album. What shape is the launch of your third album going to take?

The album will be launched on the 6th of May 2012 and that will coincide with album launch of my husband. We are not a group; we sing separately but we work together most of the times. What makes you different from other gospel artistes?

Apart from releasing my third album, I am a member of the Redeemed Church of God and most of the time especially during our Holy Ghost Service, I usually lead the Yoruba choir. So I believe that I am well prepared enough to carve a niche for myself on the scene. People that have been listening to my songs before now can testify to the fact that my delivery is different. I believe that I will stand out and mere listening to my songs will change so much in the life of the listener because my songs are meant to reform the spirit. What's the title of your third album?
The title of my third album is Mighty God…

Why did you settle for that title?

Most of the songs on the album talks about the greatness of God; there is no word to describe how mighty God is. You can just say something about his greatness but that can't be enough considering how glorious our God is. The album talks about the faithfulness of God; I think the title is apt enough because God is really mighty and his glory will last forever. How many songs will be on the album? There will be 11 songs on the album and there are different genres of music on the album. There are worships songs on the album; there is highlife and other forms of music on queue on the album too.

I learnt that your album launch is in conjunction with Paradise Music? Yes! Paradise Music is the label that signed me and my husband. The music label was set up in 2006 and plans are underway to ensure that we do not have any issues with marketing and distribution when our albums are finally released. How well do you think this album will fare especially now that hip hop seems to be the in thing? I believe the album will do well because everyone is not meant to do hip hop; I don't do hip hop and you will not find any trace of hip hop on the album. I can sing different styles but hip hop is not for me. My brand of gospel music will stand me out and I believe the album will make a meaningful impact in the market when it is eventually released.

People thought we couldn't survive doing music—Husband ARE you a back-up singer for your wife? Not really, but one of the essences of marriage is for us to be in unity; the bible says one will chase a thousand but two will chase ten thousand. There is more impact when two people are united in trying to get something done. What we do most of the time is that I act as her manager while she acts as my manager most of the time too. I play musical instruments like piano and saxophone. Most people have seen us together since music started for us and we get invited to perform at events together. As her husband and her manager how would you describe your wife's brand of music? Her music is different like she said because there is a call of God; there is also an aspect of talent imbedded in her act. Hers is a call of God mixed with talent like earlier mentioned. But majorly, what makes her brand different is the call of God.

Are your kids taking to music considering the fact that both of you love music? Yes they are! They are still babies anyway but we can tell that they love music because they can sing too. One of the major factors that revealed that fact to us is that they can sing to the keys and notes of a particular song they like. One of kids loves playing the saxophone like me and if any of them chooses to become a musician, we will gladly give our support.

How do you both manage to raise your kids considering the fact that you are both in the business of doing music? I would say that we have been able to manage the situation by the grace of God. You know music is really demanding and I can recall that two weeks ago after myself and my wife returned home late we had to go back to the studio that night and one of my daughters asked "daddy are you going out again?". I then had to explain to her why we had to rush down to the studio for recording. But as parents we always find time for our kids so we do not create any unnecessary vacuum. God has been in control I must say because our kids were given to us by God and God takes care of them and we are just guardians. We pray for them always and we also make sure that they are well taken care of as kids but God is the protector.

How do you inspire your wife musically? I must confess that God has been her inspiration; I wouldn't say that I am the one that inspires her. One of the things that a married couple should understand is that once you make your marriage heaven on earth and you try not to stress each other, you should be able to get the best out of your union. But if you don't make the home conducive for your wife then confusion will be waiting for you in the long run. You can't achieve anything when you are stressed up. What is the make-up of your album entitled His Praise? The album was cooked up to essentially praise God and that is why I decided to settle for that title. Every song on the album preaches about the awesomeness and the greatness of God.

How did music start for you? My forthcoming album is basically an instrumental piece laced with jazz and vocal blends. My biological father is an organist in Ondo State and right form childhood I have been honing my musical skills. Though I didn't play the organ the way he did but I started drumming in church in Ondo State. I only veered into music professionally when I got to Lagos. I never thought I would become a musician because I initially set-out to become a lawyer or a businessman but all that didn't work out. It was when I started doing music professionally that I discovered that music was truly my calling.

How have you been able to take care of your family considering the fact that gospel music is not that profitable in this part of the world? Everything falls down to the creator of heaven and earth; sincerely when you tell people that you are into music people begin to wonder how you will be able to survive. When we got married someone very close to us asked how we were going to survive as musicians and we said that God is going to do it for us. The thing is that, God supplies and he always meets our needs. I released my first album entitled God's glory in 2001 and we weren't married then. The album did not make headway because it was a jazz based album and people in this part of the world are not majorly jazz fans. But God helped me to the point that I always had shows to perform at; everything concerning our well being is attributed to God.

What are the projections for your album? I would simply say that the success of the album will be determined by God; the album will surely bless and touch lives. The album will heal the sick and deliver those that need deliverance. The album will go a long way and I believe there it will be a blessing to those that listen to it.