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The status of Gospel music in Uganda

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By Pauline Akello

Gospel music is always evolving. What you heard 10 years ago is different from what you hear today.

Today’s Gospel music culture is gauged from multiple perspectives; the music itself, the message, and the musicians.

Sometimes, music performed in the Church has led to question whether the underlying message of the Gospel has changed and the impact it has on Christianity.

There is a common line of thought that says the imagery that is painted with the word is not as beautiful as it was, and the ties to Scripture are not as strong as before.

Some people argue that there are some very famous songs now that are theologically horrendous.

Some would say Gospel music today has become a little uniform; a lot of it is the same, yet in the past has always been about a diversity of brands or sounds.

Coopy Bly

Variation and purpose
Gospel music may be facing a challenge of diversity of sound, where it is intended to become relevant to a whole new generation of worshippers.

But at the end of the day, it is for ministry, it is artistes to remain loyal to the Gospel message through faithful service.

While the styles of Gospel music have evolved over the years, what truly distinguishes it from other genres is the message.

In some instances, commercial forces have conspired to compromise the message of Gospel music.

To gain a wider audience, some artistes have decided not only to go for a more regimented sound, but also to water down the message, making it unclear whether the song is truly about God.

According to Jaliah Nasejje commonly known as Zabuli, a Gospel artiste, Gospel music is dependent on a minister’s purpose for their gift, as given instructions by the Father in Heaven.

“Personally, I make sure I add value to it. I study more, spend time with God, brand it well, deliver when I am called to serve.

Our God calls us to be good stewards of our gifts. The pay follows the value,” Zabuli says.

She emphasises that the rewards of being faithful are worth it. Artistes need to live intentionally and work to the glory of the Kingdom as ambassadors.

King Wesley

Profitabilty
Church musicians have an obligation when they go out into the world to be salt and light.

Salt does not become effective until it gets into an area of decay, and light does not become effective unless it goes into darkness.

We are walking the thin line between being in this world and being of it.

When we engage the world, we are to represent Christ and His way, not the other way around, and this should be for music as well.

King Wesley, a radio host at Spirit FM says Gospel music is profitable, but we must seek God first and all the rest will follow.

That has to be the basis of any kind of ministry and the profits that come after that are what are added unto us.
However, he says some artistes are inequitably appreciated.

“After perfoming, the Church that invited you will only send you off with ‘Praise the Lord so and so,” Wesley says.

He adds that the opportunities to minister have been few due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wesley says fortunately, he does his best to promote Gospel artistes and their music on radio.

Additionally, Edwin Kusasira, commonly known as Coopy Bly, says the Gospel music realm is fairing well and growing compared to the past years.

Zabuli

It is a ministry first and then whether it becomes profitable or not is just a bonus.

“Our priority should be ministry, but of course even ministry runs at a cost. As Christians, we believe all things work for the good of us that love the Lord .

“Many remain hopeful to see something good coming out of this because there are always opportunities to minister,” he says.

Coopy Bly says it is always confusing to many because the ministry also runs at a price.

Artistes are trying their best because they are so passionate, but passion can only go so far. Many artistes, he says, get frustrated at times when they do not get reimbursed for even the minimum costs.

Ultimately, Gospel music has always helped us to be prophetic, assess the present ideology, it has revived hope; whether it has beats to it or no beats.

Profitable or not, its essence should be message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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