If there is one thing that veteran gospel songstress, Stella Aba Seal (aka Stella Dugan) wishes for the gospel music ministry in Ghana today, it is for the stars to strengthen the gospel music foundations that the much older musicians have built rather than engaging themselves in petty squabbles and fruitless competition.
She told Showbiz last Monday, “Gospel music is not competition. It is not about who the best is and who has the most hits. It is about sacrifice and committing yourself to the work of God.
“In the 1980’s when gospel music in Ghana really took off, it wasn’t about money or fame but was about how to bring revival to the country. It was the time that charismatic churches were beginning to develop and so we didn’t have the luxury of the big buildings and sophisticated instruments that are abundant today.
“Then, gospel artistes performed to church members who usually fellowshipped in classrooms, under big trees and and under makeshift tents. Such were the places that we visited irrespective of the star status or name and we worked hard to lay a foundation but today, the foundation is crumbling” .
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She said that it was quite disheartening to witness that even in the face of advancements in the music industry, the gospel industry is still marking time.
This is because the players in it are more interested in the business potentials than the relevant task of composing songs that are good enough to convert non-believers.
“This is not to say that my people are not doing well now, that is far from it because there are some who are really doing well. However, for some others, their contributions are nothing to write home about and probably, that could be because such people are not Christians”.
She said that it was time the public erased the perception that all gospel artistes are Christians because they mention the name of God in their songs.
“What is gospel music? Is it not preaching the good news? Can’t anyone pick a quotation or story from the Bible to compose a song?” she queried.
“Gospel artistes need to move away from doing gospel music and concentrate more on Christian songs. This is because with the latter, you just don’t preach the good news but you uphold the principles and virtues of the Christian doctrine as you compose songs to accomplish the purpose of saving many from the claws of the devil.
That should be the task of anyone who calls him or herself a gospel artiste. Enough of the declarative kind of gospel music”.
For someone like Stella Aba Seal whose only “hobby” as she said was to evangelise, it didn’t’ come as a surprise that all her energies were geared towards her work as a “psalmist evanglelist” even after going off the regular gospel music radar as an active musician.
She officially registered the Stella Seal Foundation two years ago and since then, the mother of three has not relented in “arresting” the youth especially those in the secondary schools and tertiary institutions for Christ where she evangelises through musical shows.
“I loved to sing very much even as a kid but had no idea I’ll end up in the music industry. My dream was always to become a nurse even though I was scared of blood.
“I guess it was God’s plan for me to become a musician because the Bible says that ‘even when we were still in the womb, God already, knew what He was going to do with us so I thank him for His direction” she said.
The many divorce cases among female gospel artistes have raised a lot of eyebrows of late but the Okura Yeemu singer said there was no need to make a fuss about it.
“I am also a victim but it is not only gospel artistes whose marriages have crashed. There are women from diverse backgrounds who have also divorced but because the gospel artistes are in the limelight, their issues are overblown in the media.
“Besides, I can count the number of gospel artistes who got divorced and even in such cases, they remarried. Just one or two cases cannot be generalised” she said.
The second of four siblings, Stella Aba Seal was born to Madam Violet Addo from Anum Boso and Mr. Theophilus Seal. She started her primary education at the Accra New Town 4 School and continued at the Kotobabi 2 Middle School.
She later trained as a secretary at Accra Polytechnic after her GCE level at the City Secondary and Business College.
She enrolled at the Ghana Airways Training School where she passed out with an IATA certificate in passenger handling. Her love for fashion landed her at Kalbs School where she acquired formal training in dressmaking.
Her first album, You Are In My Heart didn’t make any impact until she released Daadaa Nyinaa which shot her to fame in 1990.
Currently, she has a good number of albums to her credit including the very popular Ahenmanmu, Okura Yeeemu, Otonko and King of Kings.
“I want the younger generation to seek first the Kingdom of God so that He can bless them with other material things.
For the gospel artistes, their aim should be to win souls for Christ because the vineyard of God is not limited to Ghana. You can work hard here and get rewarded in China”.