By Nzeh Frankwhite
Ernest Esekhile AKA “Dj Ernesty” is a lover of Good Music and an instrument for the propagation of the Gospel through Music.
He combines his technical and musical gifts with infectious energy and passion to mix good Afrobeat gospel songs.
As a Gospel Music Disk Jockey based in Abuja, Nigeria and the DJ for praisejam & KeepinitGospel Radio Shows in abuja for almost a decade, he has noticed certain constraints limiting gospel music disc jockeys from thriving and the age long perception about gospel music that is limiting it’s reach.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, Ernesty explained how gospel music can deviate from the norm and effectively change the narrative, create a balance by having it deployed to legible places in a meaningful way to all the audiences who need to adopt it and can thereby influence society with positivity and good values.
He opined that over the decades, in Africa and world over, gospel music has been perceived in a particular way, seen as holy songs meant to be played only in a church or religious gathering.
When Asked how he intends to change this narrative, he said ‘’I want to use my Craft to target the mindset of how people see gospel music today, the reason why Christians will only listen to gospel music in church and go outside to listen to other types of music is because of the stereotypical nature of most of the songs being Constantly Publicized.’’
When Asked what the response is like when he tells people that he is a Gospel music Disc Jockey, he said “They find it hard to believe that a gospel DJ will play gospel songs all through at an event without playing Secular music and this is because of the Mindset Pre-Dominantly showcased and Mostly Celebrated in the Gospel Music Scene.
He Further states that “The Gospel in “Gospel Music” is simply Goodnews born out of Christianity as a Lifestyle not necessarily as a mere Religion”
With Music as a Universal Language in mind, Gospel music has the Power to Change Society, Create Balance and correct the ills such as Rape, Violence, Kidnapping, Banditry etc and further Promote Love for One Another, Integrity, Peace, Decorum in our Society at large and also Entertainment, Fun, Joy and Laughter. that’s what the true gospel is about.
‘’There are so many gospel songs not given proper audience because the kind of music can’t thrive in the way the gospel scene is designed and accepted to be currently. these songs are very unique and enjoyable and lyrics intact, it’s a new space and we’re trying to build it to Create a Balance. Some refer to these artistes of such songs as bunch of people who create shallow Gospel music and want to influence the gospel music with their secular mindset and There are a whole lot of people on this table that if we can just break out of this, I think the gospel scene will be a more reputable scene in terms of providing music not just for Sunday service, Morning devotion but also for Birthday Parties, Informal Celebrations, evening romantic outings and even people of other religion can relate to them.
He Also Added that “Ideally, Gospel Music is not meant for Church goers and believers alone but instead it can also be a tool for inspiration, Motivation and of course Evangelism.
‘’The Influence in the gospel music scene to the world is limited because there is marginalization and criticisms especially when there is an effort in trying to do Gospel music outside the norm and history has shown that in the like of eg Kirk Franklin, Mali Music, Lecrae, Travis Greene, Tasha Cobbs, Kanye West and Back to Nigeria, we have Okey Sokay, Henrisoul, Andrew Bello, Yoyo Michael, Limoblaze etc ”. There are a lot of underground Gospel artists that you need to listen to, the songs are beautiful, your normal day to day life songs but can inspire and motivate you.
On challenges being faced by gospel disc jockeys, he said, ‘’Our biggest challenge is acceptance, there’s no structure for us. I believe there should be more opportunities provided , when I play Anywhere, as a “not regular” fan of Gospel music, you won’t believe it’s a Gospel DJ On Deck. There are good danceable and groovy songs but they are not given exposure or heard unlike the secular because the wizkid, Burna Boy and Davido have structure, the means and the influence to back it up.
Gospel Music has Very Limited Structure.There’s a mindset already. I want us to delve away from that, let’s look at Gospel music as music first which is meant to Appeal to anyone no matter the genre to which it comes. why people don’t actually listen to gospel music during weekdays is basically about the solemn mood it creates when you’re on the move for your daily activities.
On why gospel music should be played in clubs, he said ‘’the new trend of Gospel music can Match up with any other secular songs”. A lot of people are depressed and they go to these clubs. God loves it when we dance. Things are changing especially in these COVID19 Corona Virus Era, there’s innovation and God is the author of all creativity. What matters is how you use it. Most of the people who listen and make music are Christians, but they run away from tagging their songs as gospel even if inspiration can be derived from it, all these happen because of the Mindset of Gospel Music.
He also called on the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other stakeholders in the gospel scene to break out of the norm and embrace innovation.
‘’My advice to CAN is if you want to win more souls, especially the younger generation, they should try other means, break out of the norm,’’ Ernesty added.