Indigenous lyric ambassador, Gbenga Oke, advances steps up through his music
Since the release of his album, Oloyin (honey giver) in 2007, which he brought him to limelight and extended play (EP) Yahweh Dara (God is Good), featuring the gospel group, Midnight Crew in 2009, gospel singer Gbenga Oke, has been advancing his Yoruba mother tongue and culture via lyrics that give deeper reverence to his origin.
The Osun State indigene, who studied English Language at the Lagos State University (LASU), is arguably one of the most versatile, culture-oriented and unique gospel artistes to have come out of this shore. His style of music notwithstanding, the very root of nativity encapsulated in his juju/highlife is never gone unnoticed.
The gospel minister has written well over 1,000 songs in the 22 years of his singing career. This includes songs like Yesu Afayo (Jesus Loves Me), which he wrote in Ugandan language. The song is popular in every church in Nigeria today. There is also Iwe Anu (Mercy Book) and Idajo meaning (Judgment) written in Yoruba language.
Not restricted to only Yoruba, Oke also sings in diverse native languages including Igbo, where he wrote the equally popular song Chukwu Nemenma (God Does Good), which has gained popularity across Nigeria and beyond, as his music largely depicts the culture of Nigeria.
The gospel act believes strongly that Nigeria and indeed African culture makes us unique, hence, his ardent preaching of African and Nigerian music to the world.
Started out at age seven, Oke has performed and ministered in and outside Nigeria with nine albums to his credit. He loves the percussion and talking drum, and fell in love early in life with the local drum called conga.
According to him, the rich Yoruba centric highlife/juju style of music has created a niche for itself in the community of diverse highlife music patterns in Nigeria.
“I believe that Nigerians have the sole responsibility to promote their cultural heritage and one major way is promoting cultural music and showcasing it to the world. I believe Juju/highlife music is a culture to Nigeria and indeed West Africa and it must be preserved, projected and presented continuously to the world. A people cannot be separated from their culture,” Oke said.
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