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Encounter With Tunde Onala…The Ijo Onala Exponent



Onala<br />

AKINTUNDE Akinyemi, simply known as Tunde Onala, is a Nigerian contemporary gospel singer, songwriter and instrumentalist. He began singing while in secondary school and grew to learn how to play the instruments.

His debut album Onala (breakthrough) was in 2011 while the second, Ijo Onala (breakthrough dance) with tracks like Olorun Jehoshaphati (God of Jehoshaphat), E ba wa yin, (Praise With Us) Naija Tuntun (New Naija), E tu sile (Loose him), Ona Ara (Mysterious ways) and the hit, Ijo Onala in 2015.

Starting out, he was known as Tunde Onada (where is the way), but after an encounter with one of his pastors, who said to him rather than go about seeking for the way (Onada), it is already opened (Onala). “He made understand that the name you bear or answer has a way of affecting and influencing your destiny,” he said.

With 15 years in the game, what makes his style of gospel music unique is the ability to create unique melodies with different traditional and modern beats. Most of his songs are fused with Alujo — Juju, Fuji and Hip-hop.

“My kind of music is one that has gospel content, and as you know, gospel is good news. Like I often say, there is difference between the lyrics and the style of the music. You might sing Highlife, Funk, Juju. Fuji, Reggae, Pop, R&B and Hip-Hop but the content is good news while the style is all genre of music. So, I play all kind of music but with gospel content,” Onala said.

On fusing gospel with other genres of music, Onala explained that there is nothing wrong with it, but the way people relate with the genres of music — Gospel, Juju, Hip-hop, Apala etc — is different.

“The style of music, I mean the beat is different from the lyrics. Like I said, gospel is good news and when I sing about God’s blessings and how he is going to bless you and you believed, it is then good news. When I sing about God’s deliverance power and miracles with biblical contents, I’m Christianizing the song.

“I can sing Fuji, Juju, Apala with a fusion of gospel content in it, so long that it glorifies the name of God. The name or genres are the style, while the lyric is the content; this helps define the style. However, when I start talking about a girl in skimpy dress with some kind of lewd words, it is then no longer good news but a circular song. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in fusing the genres of music with gospel content; let it be edifying and spirit-lifting.”

People often say the circular music is the sure and quickest way to make big and fast. What is your view on this?

“We have so many people on the gospel turf that are doing very good and they are names that even the non-born-again Christians reckon with. You have Frank Edwards, Tope Alabi, and Bola Aare (Babayewa) among others. The two key keys things an artist require, whether gospel or circular, is focus and determination. They certainly take anybody to zenith of success. There are people doing circular music that are not doing fine.

“I have had the privilege to perform at parties — child christening, dedication or house warming — and through my experience, I discovered that most people always resort and respond to gospel music very fast when they are drunk. For instance, I was a party sometimes ago, about 80 percent of the people there where drunk, and when the song, Amono tete wa began to play, they were dancing and singing along. I believe that as gospel artistes, we can make our music in any form or style but ensure that the lyrics or contents are Godly and edifying to the spirit.”

On the challenge of plagiarism (song copying) in the genre, Onala noted that the issue is not peculiar to gospel music alone as the same is the case in the circular music, adding that in every sector, you have the original and you the fake.

“It is only those with originality that usually stand the test of time; they don’t leave their originality. For example, Tope Alabi is known for her kind of music and beats; people know her for this and her song remains evergreen.”

Today’s music is different from what our parents dance to when they were growing, and most young people particularly in the church, want to listen and dance to rap, hiphop, and alujo but this is not being encouraged by most denominations as it is considered a sin, Therefore, these youths in a bid express themselves seek alternative in pubs and clubs. What is your take?

“The issue has to do with denominations; some even go as far as believing that dressing smart to church is a sin before God. Personally, I have come to term that some people are hyper-christian, It need be noted all genres of music were developed by those in the circular music (non-Christian). Again, as a singer and music producer, I discovered that worship is in R&B category

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