By Chika Abanobi
While Dr. Atuonwu, simply known as Buchi did so with “Mma Mma,” his evergreen song title that resonates with millions of Christians across the world, Frank Edwards had his audience swooning and yearning for more with his “Nara Ekele” from his first album, a 14-tracker distributed by Honesty Music.
He also used the occasion to talk about his rise from obscurity to stardom and urged his audience not to lose hope no matter how hard life appears to be.
The event was the live recording of songs by a new and fast-rising gospel music group, a three-man band called Honesty Creed. It comprises two ladies, Chioma and Tomisin, and a young man called Daniel.
Tony Umeh, owner of the in-house band said that he discovered them through painstaking auditioning aimed at selecting the very best while engaged in hunting for raw talents.
Held at Freude’s Place located at 25 Ikorodu Road, Wasimi, Maryland, the concert which started at 4p.m ended at about 8p.m with a “collabo” titled “Kelee Chukwu” (Thank God) done by Frank Edwards along with Honesty Creed.
Death hoax about Buchi
Buchi for whom social media rumour claimed to have passed on some days earlier before the live recording concert sang his heart out as if he was out to challenge rumour-peddlers to go find a better job to do if they were tired of listening to his reggae gospel music.
He crooned “Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord,” he crooned. He followed this with an Igbo song “Onye inye aka m” (My Helper, Spirit of the Living God, My Helper).
Umeh who confessed that he was thrown into confusion when he heard the unfounded rumour said this is so because he had featured his photo in a flyer announcing his appearance in the forthcoming live recording and wondered what would happen to the whole arrangement if the rumour turned out to be true.
But like the proverbial phoenix, Buchi appeared out of the ashes of the rumour with a renewed vigour. He sang with uncommon gusto as he had never sung before.
Singing for joy
And, his audience, many of whom were happy to see him alive, sang and danced along with him.
If the floor had a mouth and could talk, it would have asked Buchi and his fans to please take it easy with it as they stomped and gyrated both on the music stage, with lights flashing, and the floor below it, with an unaccustomed pulsating beat.
Even familiar Christian choruses like “Sing Hallelujah, Amen, Glory be to God, Oh sing Hallelujah” assumed a life of their own with a call-response chant improvised by Buchi as he turned it into a titillating reggae beat.
“I pray for you, lovely people.”
“May the hand of God rest upon the feeble”
“Glory be to God, Oh, sing Hallelujah Amen!”
What Buchi did for me-Edward
Edwards, while sharing the story of his life said he remembers Buchi for being a friend and a true helper when he (Edwards) was down and out.
“At a point in my life I had to beg him to allow me to join him in his gospel music outings because I was owed seven-month salary arrears,” he said. “And, how much was I being paid a month then? N15,000! I couldn’t cope. I wanted to end it all, to go back to secular music because to me gospel music wasn’t paying.”
But with encouragement from men like Buchi who asked him to just hang in there until the time of his change comes and Umeh, a major gospel music albums marketer/distributor who paid him an eye-popping, mouthwatering sum because he saw in him a great potentiality he was able to pull himself up by his shoestrings to the enviable position that he occupies today in the gospel music industry.
Edward’s little beginning
Umeh, in a short speech introducing Edwards confirmed his story as he recalled him living in a one-room apartment then and struggling to make it in life.
Using his story as a reference point, Edwards encouraged his audience not to give up hope as they struggle through life as their breakthrough might be just somewhere around the corner. And, if they give up hope too soon they might miss a great reward awaiting them.
Both Buchi and Edwards prayed for the Honesty Creed to succeed where others had failed. Umeh, President/Founder of Honesty Missions International, and owner of the music label under which the three-artiste music group operates noted that he is on a mission not to make money out of artistes but to guide them to be their best.
He told the story of how he nurtured Frank Edwards to what he is today, at a time when nobody gave him a chance. He added that he is still in the business of picking up raw gospel talents from the street and brushing them up to be stars for God.
Fidelis Yadi, of Holy Ghost School Endtime Ministries, Lagos who led the audience in the closing prayer confessed that he had never experienced such musical worship for a long time. He urged his listeners to seek a more personalised, more intimate fellowship with God than rely on an empty public show of worship that ends up glorifying man, either the Pastor or singers/choristers.
Live recordings of gospel songs seemed to have become the vogue among many African Christian artistes after the late legendary Christian musician, Lionel Peterson, in 1991 flew the 25-member US-based Integrity Music group to South Africa and recorded the highly successful gospel music album and video titled “Rejoice Africa.” They sold millions of copies across the world.
Since then other artistes who have done relatively well with live recordings include Nathaniel Bassey, Chris Crown, Sinach, Frank Edwards, Buchi, Mercy Chinwo, Tope Alabi, Tim Godfrey, Dunsin Oyekan, Moses Bliss, Eben, Lilian Nneji, Kunle Ajayi, Sammie Okposo, Joe Praise, Chioma Jesus, Godstime Promise, Lara George and Gift Ugochi Chinyere (GUC).