When gospel artiste Michael Oware Sakyi (OJ) won the VGMA 2013 Gospel Song of the Year award for his 'Maye se mo pen' (meaning, I have been like you), it became clear, the VGMA board simply do not go to church.
O.J himself is disappointed. He had wanted to win the Songwriter of the year category and perhaps rightly so. Now see what you guys have done to O.J. He believes his award is a compensation.
OJ disclosed to Flex newspaper that he deserved more than what was given him. “I think this a public knowledge. Who doesn't know I was supposed to have won the Songwriter of the Year award? I thank God that at least I did not fight for myself after the award eluded me. To be honest with you, I take solace in the fact that, a lot of people including some members on the VGMA board and the media at large have noticed the fact that the songwriter award should have come to me,” he said.
I suspect O.J submitted the song under the gospel song of the year.
See – No choir will ever sing 'Maye se mo pen' in church or concert and you could endanger a worship service if you persist with the song.
Let’s not go to the praises section. Even if you took GM foods, your understanding of gospel music will not change.
Because 'Maye se mo pen ' is such a good song, such a really well written song, solid content, apt lyrics but – No. Not a gospel song. Naa.
The song is about the importance of good morals, living and listening to good advice and staying away from girls.
Now even this crazy Nigerian stripper, Maheeda, believes this. Morality is not gospel otherwise Italian mafia’s famed for their code of honesty and loyalty would be having a best-selling gospel album by now.
Every tribe,every people, every tongue, every culture knows that chasing someone's wife is a bad idea. And taking your books is a good idea.
But that's surely not gospel. Most surely not gospel.
And so why did the VGMA board fix that song in this category?????
Well, it is easy to suspect O.J’s pretty negligible mention of God was just too much overwhelming evidence to the VGMA board that the song is gospel.
Had it not been for the fact that O.J is Christian, his brief mention of ‘God’ in the song can pass for Budha or I don’t know El-Kankaar?
Or maybe the song was branded gospel because the moral tale was sang by a gospel artiste?
Which basically means Grace Ashy’s 2010 World Cup song for the Black Stars should have been nominated gospel song of the year too.
And with this awkward understanding of the word ‘gospel’, Bisa Kdei’s 'Baba' should have been nominated gospel song of the year – Who could have won, you know?
Mind you, he mentions Baba –meaning God – at least 72 times more than O.J. Yeah. Yes, I counted.
Fine, he’s not a gospel musician but he has identified himself Christian in the biography section. I checked. And he goes to church at least on the 31st of every year – am suspecting.
Bisa’s 'Baba' song draws the attention of ingrates and indeed everybody to God’s goodness and faithfulness and mercy on our everyday lives. He asks for patience in suffering while we wait for God’s intervention.
And admonishes us to give all glory to Baba.
Too much evidence for a campaign to get Bisa recognised for his gospel work.
But deep down inside, we all know Bisa's 'Baba' is not gospel.
But you can't really fault the VGMA can you? The award is trying to acknowledge every angle, every shade of music genre. But you can't help but notice, the focus is hiplife, hip-pop intensive. And there is no problem with that.
The real problem is gospel artiste themselves. A certain preference for a VGMA award and not Ghana Gospel Music Award. They want to be part of a bigger platform, don't we all crave the acceptance into a larger more glamourous attention?
And yet the lure of VGMA fame is exactly their problem. Joyce Blessing coveted six awards. Nicholas branded this year his breakthrough year. He felt cheated last year around.
In trying to stand in a bigger limelight, the light of who the gospel artiste really is, who they really serve, diminishes and gradually they suffer from a certain complex.
Shatta Wale rejected the opportunity to perform for less than Ghc 70,000. A gospel artiste will be okay with Ghc,2000. Not really because he needs the money. He is in need of the chance of a larger stage than for the money.
VGMA is an opportnity to really shine. No. I beg to differ. No gospel artiste can shine at VGMA. Its VGMA that shines on you. There is a big difference.
Shatta Wale, Samini, Sarkodie shine at VGMA but VGMA shines on the gospel artiste. One group has a superiority complex, the other an inferiority complex. One doesn't need to feel accepted, he already is. But the other, deep down inside feels the need to be accepted – but he won't.
And the gospel artiste will always suffer from this complex as long as it shares the stage with Shatta Wale and co.
A gospel musician attending the VGMA awards is probably like a Hull City fan visiting the Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabaeu.
Or much like English player Scott Sinclair trying to fit in the expensive, extremely talented multi-national select side at Manchester City – awkward. He is just there to fulfill Premier League requirement for English players.
No wonder Joe Hart could be the only English player left as his countrymen look to exit the Eithhad
And so to fit in, Gifty Osei dresses like Portiphar's wife just to feel at home with the fashionista VGMA crowd.
And the most awful realization about the state of gospel music was after Sonnie Badu branded gospel music -this eternal life-giving art – a showbiz.
And paraded a couple of Nigerian comedians and Ghana’s Funny Face at the Accra Sports Stadium to mimick pastors, mock and tell jokes about the church and Christians in particular.
So we need to blend in right? No. That's wrong.
Guys, it's time to come home. Ditch VGMA. You don't need to be there. Let them give you the award in your absence while you drive your way to your own Ghana Gospel Awards or Adom Gospel Awards.
It may not attract the crowds you want or the sponsors you need but -that's home – that's where you will be recognized. You will not be desert or a first course meal. You will be the main dish.
You won't have to be tolerated or your award category misplaced.
You will be home.Home sweet home.