In this interview with The News Chronicle (TNC), Pst Ezekiel Augustine talks about his music career, motivation, challenges, future plans …and many other issues.
TNC: First, let me congratulate you on your latest album “For my Good”. We all know it is not easy to put an album out there. Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
PE: Thank you so much, it’s my pleasure. When I was younger, I dreamed of being two things: a lawyer and a preacher of the gospel.
I knew I could sing and had been a choir boy from when I was a kid. My father played a role too as he could sing and was the choir director then.
He would sing and play instruments with his mouth and I would echo with him, we used everything available to create music. Then music was not as lucrative as it is today (probably because it was a village setting then).
Becoming a lawyer was my dream, but my parents could not afford to train me. Later, I decided to be a broadcaster all in a bid to become a public figure. I also saw it as an opportunity to learn to speak the English Language fluently as it would help me preach the gospel.
Well, I ended up being a preacher.
My musical talent was ignited by an elderly man who heard me sing and suggested I should join the Church band (I had just moved from the village to town). I joined the band and after a short while, I became the bandleader.
However, I got discouraged and stopped producing music when I was rushed to do an album that wasn’t supported. I ended up being in debt.
I would have been in jail by now but for mercy. The man I was indebted to saw my struggles and witnessed the disappointments I went through which led him to pardon my debt after I had paid part of the money.
After over 15 years of being inactive in the music industry, it dawned on me to revive my musical career. That is how “For my Good” was birthed.
TNC: I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So do you think your hometown or current home has affected you and your music today?
PE: I was born and brought up in Ekajuk, Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River State. But, my musical career was ignited in Bauchi State. I was a member of the fountain community mass choir until I left for Bayelsa State where I started preaching the gospel.
I live in Abuja currently and I never would have imagined that staying here would cause a tremendous influence on my music.
I relocated to Abuja on December 30th, 2017 and indeed, it has been for my good. Seeing lives being blessed by my music and the testimonies recorded in such a short period is amazing.
TNC: When you were putting together “For my Good”, did you feel that it was a special project and some of your best work? Can you talk about the process of putting together this collection? Were there any unexpected challenges or surprises about it all? Is this your first released album?
PE: Officially, I would say this is my first album because of the confidence and liberality of spirit I found in the work.
I encountered a few challenges but I saw them as stepping stones to cross over into a better future.
I found “For my Good” as a special project due to the flexibility I enjoyed in the production process. The human resources, my producer, Danny AP, and my Fogmmon family played major roles.
Sincerely, I must say my best is yet to come. I am currently working on a new track titled “Oluwa Ese”. It is going to be mind-blowing.
TNC: While this may be difficult, can you pick out a few of your favorite songs from this album and talk about how they were created? How did they go from being just ideas in your head to full-blown songs on this collection?
PE: Most times when I listen to good music, I get inspired to create mine or sometimes the inspiration comes when I am in my best of moods. In my dreams, a full-blown song could drop in my mouth, from the beat to the lyrics. “I worship you” is one of my best tracks. I saw worship as a total surrendering to the sovereignty of God and completely yielding to the Lordship of Christ. As such, the lyrics came forth.
I will lift up my hands to you Lord
I will lift up my voice to you Lord
I will lift up my heart, to honour you and I will worship you.
A song like “I believe in miracle”, a reggae track, is another song I believe that people would love to listen to daily. The inspiration to write this particular song came when I was faced with trials. Everything I had in the world went down the drain.
I was left with absolutely nothing, no one to talk to, no place to go and no one to lean on, I was all by myself. Then, within my soul, I heard a still voice saying, “You don’t have to worry anymore, don’t be afraid, you are not alone. The pain you bear, the tears you have shed is only for a while…Believe a miracle would happen, even now”.
I came alive by that sweet heavenly voice.
Today, it has become a song of great joy and encouragement to me and to all that listen to it, featuring C.Lyrics one of the unique voices that painted a colourful sound into the rhythm.
The track “For My Good” summed up my life-story.
All my life, people have told me I would never be anything meaningful, I am a nobody and I have nothing to offer, e.t.c. But I didn’t let what they said deter me. In spite of where I was and all the setbacks, I realized that they were all for my good.
Lastly, on this, I will not fail to mention the song “I’m Yours Forever “. This came when I thought I had been forsaken by those I loved and turned down for no reason; at that point, I lost everything I had.
Then one day, while I was in deep thought, I just lifted my hands and said; “Nothing can take your place in my life, I live to be your best forever, no one else can compare to the beauty of your love. I’m yours forever, you are mine”.
TNC: How do you think you have grown as an artist since the release of this album? Do you think that what motivates you to make music year after year has changed?
PE: So far the release of “For My Good” has contributed to exposing the hidden talent in me, restored lost glory and opened doors of opportunity as the scripture will have it that “the gift of a man makes rooms for him and at such he or she won’t stand before mere men”.
As to what motivates me, that will change as time goes on.
My source of inspiration will forever motivate me to remain focused and never drift away.
TNC: What do you think of the evolution of Gospel music? How do you think it has changed since you have been making music? What do you think of other Gospel artists out there today? Do you find that the younger gospel artists are changing the game at all?
PE: The evolution of gospel music is quite alarming because the content of most gospel songs of this present day is losing its potential-ingredients which is the spirituality involved. The spirituality should make the difference and that is my anchor value. To make a difference and ensure the message of the gospel is rightly maintained and communicated such that the younger generation will have something to hold onto and follow suit.
TNC: We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that new music created today is going to reflect these difficult times?
PE: A few of the characteristics you will find common with me are peace, joy, patience, and meekness. All these naturally put a smile on my face in spite of the difficult situations that might surround me. I find these traits common to me. The lyrics of my song “I Believe In Miracle” says that no matter the world you find yourself, you don’t have to worry. It is only when you are calm that you can have peaceful resolutions to life-threatening situations.
Music does minister to our soul. So, if we have good music out there it becomes a tool to easily pass a message across all borders.
Since music has a common factor that is generally accepted by all, it would do us good if we emphasized good music as well as sponsor them.
TNC: Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, which musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you love to work with in the future?
PE: To a large extent, musicians both home and abroad have influenced me. The likes of Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Smokie Norful, Kirk Franklin, Cece Winans, Dr. Panam Percy Paul, Eben, Nathaniel Bassey, Frank Edward, and Pst Jerry Ogbeba, etc.
Most importantly, my Dad who never had the opportunity to record any of his songs impacted on me in my early years when I watched him sing and the beautiful melodies he made stirred the gift in me.
Practically, I was mentored by Pst. Jerry Ogbeba, the president of Fountain Community Mass Choir. He gave me the basic knowledge I use today.
I would like to work with Eben, Nathaniel Bassey and Samsong in the future., especially, my current motivator Asu Ekiye, the Prince of the Niger Delta, the president of Fogmmon worldwide.
TNC: What do you hope people take away from your music?
PE: I hope that people would hold on to their dreams and believe all is working for their good. Last but not least, always be focused. Dreams do come true.
TNC: Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
PE: Life is in the totality of what you were born to do. Your indwelling potentials interpret what you were born to do. Locate and exhaust them, then the beauty of life will become real to you.
I want to use this medium to deeply appreciate The News Chronicle for this awesome opportunity availed to me.
I want to say thank you to my father, Apostle Paul Odola, for his love and support.
To my amazing team, fans and readers, thank you so much. Keep in touch because I’ve got what the world is waiting for.