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How I learnt to sing – Chioma Jesus reveals



Famous Nigerian gospel singer, Amaka Okwuoha, popularly known as Chioma Jesus, opens up to MOBOLA SADIQ about her career and other issues.

How did you find your path into gospel ministry?

It is a divine mandate and divine calling from God. It started during my secondary school days. Whenever I was inside the classroom, I would be singing and my classmates would surround me. Afterwards, I started singing in church and since then, it has grown to what it is right now. I didn’t go to a music school and nobody taught me how to sing; it was the Holy Spirit that did that. I have about eight albums and I’m currently preparing for the ninth album. Each album has not less than eight tracks.

Was it your childhood dream to become a gospel artiste?

I was into business before God called me to be a gospel minister. In fact, I refused to heed the call because I was scared that if I started singing, I wouldn’t be able to take care of my family financially. I never knew that I would end up being a singer but I knew that God had a special plan for me. I was getting so many revelations and seeing myself singing to crowds. But because nobody knew me then, I doubted if those revelations would come to pass. However, I kept on prophesying and praying for the manifestation of my dreams. There was a time I wanted to ‘run away’ with some foreign missionaries because of so much pressure but God told me not to go because he would take me all around the world.

How did you come about your stage name, Chioma Jesus?

God told me that he would give me a name and a local song that would ‘hit’ the entire world. He told me that the song would take over my name. So, when I was seeking the face of God for my songs, he gave me, ‘Chioma me Chioma’, and it was through that song I got my stage name. An inner voice told me to add ‘Jesus’ and that’s how ‘Chioma Jesus’ came into existence. That was the name of my first album that was released 15 years ago.

What led you to start the Chioma Jesus Charity Foundation?

The foundation was started seven years ago when I was preparing for my first praise crusade in my community. God told me to get wrappers for widows and the underprivileged. I started by giving out 50 wrappers but now we can give out 2000 wrappers. God has helped us to give loudspeakers, generating sets and microphones to churches. We also empower widows and youths. The foundation has built a four-bedroom flat for a widow and we would be doing more by God’s grace.

How do you get inspiration for your songs?

It’s the Holy Spirit that gives me inspiration. Once I get the chorus and title of the song, I write it down and when I’m in the studio, I tell the engineers to record me. I’m tireless when it comes to singing.

What are the mistakes you think young gospel artistes make?

Because of the hunger for fame, some have being sexually used by people who promised them favours and platforms. Some young men have even joined secret cults because of the desperation for fame.

Another mistake is that some young artistes don’t have mentors to put them through.

I always tell them that not everyone is called to record songs. Some are called to be worship leaders, praise leaders, songwriters, music directors, back-up singers and vocalists. If you know where you are supposed to function, things would be easier for you and that was what helped me when I started my career. Music is a calling. A lot of people may be singing but there are few people that have been anointed as music evangelists and I happen to fall into that category. However, everyone wants to quickly make a name and that is endangering their destinies.

Why don’t you wear jewellery on stage?

For everything I do, I get the inspiration from God. If you’re a servant of God, you must be obedient to His leading. I do whatever He asks me to do. Right from when I became born again, I made up mind to do things that would glorify God. That’s why I cover myself as a woman and because I’m a role model to a lot of people that I don’t even see. Just by dressing well, I can draw people to Christ. You cannot be a child of God and be going about almost naked. Even if you’re not a gospel singer, your mode of dressing should preach Christ. I’m not condemning anyone but that’s my way of life and I believe that my fans love me that way and I have peace doing it.

Some people have argued that there is no style of dancing that should be classified worldly or ungodly. What’s your take on that?

When we read in the Bible that King David danced so much that his wife mocked him, it was not specified what style of dance that made God love him. I believe that dancing and worshipping God is all about one’s personal connectivity with the almighty. However, even as an unbeliever, there are some dance steps that one would know does not glorify God. There are some dance steps that my spirit does not accept. When you’re dancing and you go naked, that is rubbish.

What are some of the lessons you have learnt as a gospel minister?

I have learnt that promotion comes from God because when you watch television and listen to the radio, you might not hear them playing my songs. But I’m always attending programmes. Secondly, I learnt that working with God gives you a direction. I don’t have a godfather. It is God that has been helping me and announcing me. If I have attended 100 programmes, 70 per cent has been by divine arrangement. I have learnt to trust in God more than any human being. I also learnt that when you work with God in secret, He would announce you openly.

Some people are of the opinion that gospel singers should not charge exorbitant fees. What’s your response to that?

When I started my music ministry, I was not charging anything. I could go and minister for four days and be given just N20, 000, then my crew would want to fight with me. When I told them that it was the work of God, they told me to use myself to ‘sow seeds’ but I should pay them their money. I was having this problem until I resolved it by God’s grace. The people that work with me don’t do other jobs, so I have to pay them well. They have stayed with me for more than 15 years and they have being faithful. I have to pay them well because they are also graduates. Some are married and have families to feed. There are some places we go and don’t ask for anything. They just give what they think we deserve. In some churches, musicians are placed on payrolls. If not, they would leave the instruments in search of better jobs.

Is any of your children following your career path?

My last born, Chioma Jesus junior, is following my career path. The other ones are in the ministry with me though they don’t sing.

What are the things that people don’t know about you?

People don’t know that I’m a jovial person. That’s because when they see me on stage, I’m always in the spirit, so they think that I don’t play. But when I’m ministering, I’m like a soldier on an assignment. I’m also a big giver; I love to make people happy.

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