A Nigerian United Kingdom-based gospel artiste with dual citizenship, Amaka Beatrice Ogba, popularly known as Amiexcel, is the convener, host and founder of one of the biggest virtual programmes, themed Worship Experience with AmiExcel UK , that won the Best Gospel Event Organiser worldwide award in the Maranatha Award USA 2020. In this interview, she revealed that her entrance into the Nigerian gospel music industry is to make an impact on the world through music, with the youth as an immediate focus. For the indigene of Eluama in Abia State with Bachelors and Masters degree from Imo State University and University of Lincoln, United Kingdom, respectively, music has always been a gateway for her while growing up and even more now with her sound being accepted in the UK. Chiemelie Ezeobi brings excerpts:
How did you get into music?
I am that child of God who boldly declares with every element of conviction that God loves me and in His infinite loving-kindness is mindful of me. He has told me from the very beginning, I have given you a voice that will be heard globally. Walking through life experiences, having started my music career in 1994, I can reflect and tell of God’s overwhelming love and promotion right from my university days when I was appointed state zonal choir coordinator for Imo State (Owerri) at the age of 20.
Hosting some of the cream of gospel music in Christendom at the time, and holding big choir events, among other giant strides, discharged supernaturally even up till this day and forever.
Today, from the UK, something tremendous has been happening. It all began at a time when there was great turbulence in the world. God again picked me as a vessel and an outstretched arm of help, motivation, support and inspiration to the nations of the world, one of the biggest virtual gospel programmes, Worship Experience With AmiExcel (WEMA), was born.
WEWA Global has grown in leaps and bounds, and is in the business of hosting all categories of gospel music ministers worldwide. The records are there of God’s awesomeness in my life as the founder, and convener of this life-transforming virtual gospel programme.
This has been a big accomplishment. It was a vision I saw and heard quite early from Lincoln, United Kingdom, to the rest of the world. Recently, in 2020, Worship Experience won the Maranatha USA Awards for the Best Worship Event Organiser.
How long have you been doing music?
My love for music began at a very tender age but I joined a choir at 11. In 1994, I underwent a phase of training, which transitioned into me being choir leader with developed skills in songwriting. Officially, in 2019, I became a recording artiste, releasing my first single, “Shine the Light.” Since then, it has been astronomical growth in my music journey, releasing more singles and featuring top-notch gospel artistes, and now I am putting finishing touches to my upcoming album.
Why did you choose gospel music?
Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance and definition of gospel music vary according to knowledge of the scriptures, culture and social context. The music I do is born from a standpoint of hope, magnification and inspiration of all and sundry because It is a quick work God is doing in these last days through gospel music ministers to get people’s minds and hearts prepared. Just by listening to the very lyrics of gospel music, they automatically find that pressing need to give their hearts to Christ.
“All We Ever Need,” a powerful single released in 2021, featuring the impeccable Ruthney Daibo, is one to reckon with, based on the foregoing.
Do you have an album?
So far, I have released three singles, “Shine the Light 1” and “Shine the Light 2,” featuring Min. Ntieno, “All We Ever Need” and, in a matter of days, two other powerful singles tilted “Supernatural” and “Great God” will be hitting the airwaves on local and international platforms and I urge you to stay tuned and be greatly blessed. I am optimistic that, by the end of this glorious year, my first album will be released. Do kindly stay tuned.
What inspires your lyrics?
The inspiration is from my ever-consistent relationship with God. My songs are a great reflection of his never-ending love, faith, hope, healing and inspiration. For no more delay or excuses, all we need He has given unto us. I must also add that my music encompasses all the musical influences I have been exposed to. My inspiration comes from nowhere but from God, His word, my experiences, the different genres of music and great musicians I have had the privilege and opportunity to listen to.
Are you an independent artiste?
So far, I can say I am an independent artiste.
Although, of recent, I have had labels offer contracts but until now I have not been interested.
What are the challenges you face as an independent artiste?
It is possible for an independent artiste not to know his or her strengths and weaknesses because it is largely believed that the labels exert a great deal of expertise in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of their signed artistes. Also, there is the challenge of not studying the business for those who choose to completely monetise their gifts. It is important to know and manage the financial side of your music career.
It is also important to know how the music business really works. Not knowing this can cause you to overlook income streams, enter bad contracts and just make bad career decisions. So, what experience does for us is to become a student of the industry. Study what is happening in the music business. Keep on top of current technology, marketing trends and legal situations to get the best and profit from your gospel music career because, in all honesty, a whole lot goes into the gospel music business. It is beautiful to see the end results of hard work and sacrifice, not knowing all that happened behind the scenes in creating these contents.
One of the challenges facing females in the entertainment industry is sexual harassment. Have you experienced such?
I think that’s one statement that is attributed to the secular music space and not popularly the gospel music space. I am largely convinced that, in the gospel music space, a true female gospel music minister who upholds the commandments as neatly written in the scriptures and leans firmly on Christian values, will never engage in any form of immorality just for the quest of fame or riches. Our bodies are living tabernacles, Christ dwells in us and upright gospel music ministers never lose sight of this.
As a beautiful diva, have you had an embarrassing encounter with a male fan?
There has not been any such thing.
Why did you leave Nigeria and decide to sing in the diaspora?
As life unfolds, our goals, careers, dreams and aspirations set us apart, putting us on preconceived pedestals, and that’s how I have become a UK-based Nigerian gospel artiste.
How has the foreign audience accepted your music and how are you coping with racial discrimination?
As a gospel artiste, it is expected that your church members and colleagues are your number one fans and I must say that the feedback, love and encouragement I have received from them have been heartwarming. You find your white friends, colleagues and church members singing your songs and asking when the next release would be. Since I relocated from Nigeria to England, the feedback has been amazing, overwhelming.
Are you ever intimidated in your field?
Everyone’s got his or her space. The sky is big enough for everyone to shine. When God gives you an assignment, everything you require for the fulfilment of such assignment is embedded in that call. If you are conscious of this mindset, there would be nothing like intimidation, for your recipe and necessary ingredient for your success is already on the inside of you.
What did the 2020 pandemic deprive you of and how did you pull through?
For me, the global pandemic was an era of promotion because it was at that time that a phase of my walk in ministry and in God began. It was a time where there was great turbulence in the world but God picked me as a vessel and an outstretched arm of help, motivation, support and inspiration to many people in nations of the world. It was in that period that WEWA was born.
What are the major challenges of doing gospel music abroad?
One of the major challenges of doing gospel music abroad is the crossover appeal. Most gospel music ministers lack a global view and attitude. I once heard someone say just because I had an African name or background it did not limit me in being able to carry people from other cultures along.
Before now, I have had to tackle the distorted thoughts that most Africans ponder while living abroad. Many of us make excuses like, “We have an accent. We have an African name. They only accept their own. They may not like my own kind of music, so I had better stick to my own or try to sing like them.”
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But we fail to remember and value our potential as children of God, and the same God who created the people overseas also created us. And, if he has called you, he will give you the resources and the help to make the vision a reality, regardless of the odds that are stacked against you. Know the child of who you are so as to break loose from this.
Another challenge is the lack of excellence in our music. We don’t want to take the time to write and produce excellent songs. We are in a country where excellence is a priority. We cannot afford to take the rush mentality and translate it into our work. Whatever you produce as a musician lives on even after you are gone. And if you want to be taken seriously, be consistent in all that you do. Excellence is key and must be highly brought to bear on everything. I pray God helps us with the rush mentality and excellent spirit!
What are your projections for the rest of 2021?
I am largely optimistic to bless the world with a well-packaged studio album from the stables of Worship Experience With AmiExcel, before the end of this year. It is in my projection.
Also, WEWA Global have plans to have one of the biggest live concerts in the UK, where we will fly in top gospel artistes for a life-transforming musical jam that will bless lives without measure and also transform the gospel music sphere.
What is your message to the youths and government?
God has graced you with a unique gift. Look inwardly, ask the Holy Spirit after you get born-again, ask Him to help you and He definitely will. Begin to live for Christ, if you haven’t been living for him. That’s the life that truly matters. Nothing else makes sense.
The government should begin to work on ensuring that the country is conducive for its inhabitants. Government should create jobs and equip citizens so society can be a better place to live in.
Any last words?
I would also like to say thanks for supporting me on this journey. I also appreciate all who have gone out of their way to send me messages on how my latest single “All We Ever Need” has blessed them. Please, keep praying for me, and may all the songs I produce bring you closer to Christ. God bless you all, greater is coming, in Jesus’ name.