By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
The last time I attended a fully-fledged Gospel event was a concert put together in 2015 by KC Entertainment and Footprint TV to honour the legendary Danny Nettey dubbed: “Celebration of Faithfulness”.
That concert blew me away with its expert organization and huge patronage. Although impressed, it had to take me another four years to make my way to another Gospel concert, Joe Mettle’s Praise Reloaded which this year was themed: “Wind of Revival” and after what I witnessed, the Gospel fraternity surely has a new fanatic in me.
This was the eighth year of the 2017 VGMA Artiste of the Year organizing this annual music concert and this year’s edition arguably got the biggest buzz before the show and clearly it was well worth the hype.
The concert scored as the most impressive music event thus far in the year for me as there was little to complain about.
Patronage was remarkable, the coordination and fluidity were striking and the technical detail, which was the most important element was close to perfect with regards to sound, stage setup, lighting and video inserts. Security was taken seriously, regardless of the fact that we were there for worship.
Joe Mettle, Cwesi Oteng, Ceccy Twum, KODA and the American Gospel Minister, Jonathan Nelson, were magnificent with their respective performances, however, the best performers on the night were the Love Gift Band, the resident band for Reverb Studios, who supported almost every artiste on the stage with such class, poise and skill.
There were some takeaways from the Wind of Revival concert that have some telling impact on the general approach to Gospel-related events in the country. Let’s dig in!
A huge following
From my little experience of attending Gospel events and with the advantage of research into how such shows have panned out over the period, it is impressive that, there’s such a huge following for these Gospel folks.
Contemporary Gospel artistes like Joe Mettle, Eugene Zuta, Cwesi Oteng, Akesse Brempong, and many others have been able to build and sustain a dedicated following over the years. They may not be as loud as those in the ‘secular’ space, but the enthusiasm of their following, when it comes to their music and projects is commendable.
Joe Mettle is a classic example of how a Ghanaian contemporary Gospel artiste has been able to construct, nurture and add on to his following with very little mainstream succour. His music is not more enjoyed by just the pious, it is in every home and touches every heart and soul. His winning the biggest prize in Ghanaian music in 2017 was no fluke, he worked his way up and is still grinding.
Joe and his contemporaries preside over such enviable following your typical A-list ‘secular’ act would be envious of.
Lack of support
In the midst of all the praises, worship and Holy Ghost visitation at Wind of Revival, there was also that heart-wrenching moment when Joe Mettle told patrons how the companies that had made commitments to aid the event pulled the plugs on their promises at the last minute. He talked about how no company gave even GHȻ1 to help facilitate the event.
According to him, at that last minute, he nearly gave up but for the effort of his team and the benevolence of individuals who believe in giving and supporting the work of the Lord.
Sitting there and listening to such a tale, I was gutted too! How can this gentleman, who has such a respectable and strong brand devoid of any controversies, having ran this project for the past eight years and having dominated the Gospel scene and even the entire music industry for over two years, have trouble getting any form of support?
Yes, it is understandable that the economy is hard but scratch that, the economy has been torrid since independence yet events that lack class, clout and following still get appreciable support from Corporate Ghana.
It is also baffling how there are a deluge of well-established corporate firms owned by true men of God, yet, sponsorship for quality events that are aimed at bringing mankind closer to God are scarce. These men of God and believers in Christ must rise up and do the Lord’s bidding!
Genuinely, the hard working Gospel folks may also not be attracting the needed support from some quarters due to the dearth of attention on them and whatever they do.
For the umpteenth time, I need to state that the arts and entertainment space, which includes Gospel music, is an attention-driven one. Gospel music, in the general scheme of things does not work with separate dynamics when it comes to show business. The same ‘rules’ of show business are applicable to every genre of music.
Yes, they are inclined to be working with the spirit and all the religious nuances they have to deal with, but the same mechanism that is used to attract attention and sponsorship for the ‘secular’ act applies to that Gospel act too.
The corporate firms are looking to generate the same benefits that come with every event, not just Gospel, so, the same guidelines are applicable to all.
For years, players in the Gospel industry did not feel the need to involve the mainstream media in the promotion and coverage of their events and other projects, which has been a bane for that industry.
Critically, the gospel is not for only those already saved, no, it is for the many in the world not yet saved, so it is imperative for these guys to invest in ensuring that their events and other related projects are heavily publicised to woo patrons and supporters.
Sometimes, one has to sympathize with these Gospel acts and their handlers. The confusion over whether they are in the business to win souls for Christ only or to sell records and grow lucrative brands makes them uncertain and walking that fine line is a challenge.
While a Shatta Wale is open for any kind of sponsorship; from Vodafone to Zoomlion to Kpoo K3k3 and Lydia Contraceptives, a Joe Mettle is restricted in who can sponsor or support his events.
It has always been tricky for the Gospel artiste; to tread in a cautious manner in order not to elicit backlash from the sanctimonious people of God. One misstep and you lose influence and respect of core followers.
Regardless, the fact still remains that there are enough Bible-believing corporate brands in the country that can support these Gospel artistes and the work of the Lord. It is up to these artistes to position themselves in a manner that would attract the needed succour to project the work of the Lord.
These events are costly; the venues, the technical gadgets, the décor, protocol and media are costly. It is money that is used to ensure that lives are saved and souls won so, it is critical for these guys to position their brands in a way that would not compromise their conviction but are attractive enough to attain all the support they need.