John Agoha started out singing in the church, but along the line, he embraced secular music. However, a couple of years back, he retraced his steps and has since gone back to doing gospel music.
In this chat, Agoha opens up on how music found him at a tender age and why he dumped secular music for gospel.
What was growing up like?
Growing up for me was not 100 per cent rosy, but it was not that bad. Thank God for the kind of family and parents He blessed me with. Even, if at some point I was more of the unserious one among my siblings probably because of my dreams, but I thank God for the guidance my parents gave me.
Has it always been your dream to be a singer?
Yes. The only problem was direction, and that was the major challenge back then. You know, when you are enthusiastic about a particular thing as a child, every other activity becomes irrelevant. Being a singer was a vision I had from my childhood.
How did music start for you?
I started singing in the church choir. I wrote my first song at the age of 10. I am a blessed child. That time, my sweet mother ran a restaurant, Test and See, in Benin City, Edo State. I was always singing there, while helping her to sell. So, one day, a pastor from the late Benson Idashosa’s church, Church of God Mission, was driving by. He heard me singing and invited me to come and sing in his church. But my mother did not allow me to do so. Instead, she took me to her church, Jesus Deliverance Ministries popularly know as Ngozi Church. One night, during the service, I sang and everybody was blown away. So, they moved me from the children’s choir to the senior choir. The church was so impressed they put me in a music school, Benjof Showbiz International. In 2006, a friend told me about Star Quest (reality show). I went for the addition in Benin and I made it to the house, emerging the first runner-up. And again, I must commend my father; he was one man that made me sing.
Who were your early influences?
The truth is, God influenced me. He’s my mentor. Whenever I ask for direction, He does not hesitate to put me on the right track.
Were you born with a silver spoon?
(Laughter) Silver spoon? Well, I’m from a well-to-do family. We’re average, so it wasn’t like I was raised from a poverty stricken environment. However, to God be the glory. Growing up, we had our challenges but my parents made sure we had everything we needed.
You used to be a secular artiste but now you do gospel, what happened?
The only thing that happened was change. Yes, change happened. As a secular artiste, I recorded singles like Omalicha, Selense, Flying Flying, Go Down, and Chokomilo but I was not fulfilled. It was like there was a vacuum in me yearning to be filled. As a reasonable person, when you try something and it seems not making progress, you come up with an alternative, and the only way out is listening to your inner conscience. Yes, I was doing secular music but despite the time, money and energy spent, I realised it wasn’t my way. So, I asked for direction from my creator and He answered me. Today, I can tell you that the decision to go secular was not a mistake.
Ever since you went secular, what have been the challenges?
Challenges? God won’t give His servant what he can’t handle. It’s been a sweet musical journey. The only thing is that, we still need support and financial assistance from investors.
How many albums have your released?
I’m still working on my first gospel/inspirational album, and by His special grace, it should be released sometime this year. It’s entitled, Songs of the Future. However, my song, Jehovah is one of my most appreciated songs. The feedback from it is awesome!
Gospel artistes have been accused of sounding too worldly in their music and even lifestyle. What is your take on this?
I disagree. But on the other hand, everyone is working with the trend, in terms of sound and what makes their audience happy. I don’t think I fall into that category, because my songs are not just gospel songs, they are songs people can relate with; songs that will put you on the right track and help you find your balance in life. What I do could be described as ‘gospel inspirational sound’.
Could you recount crazy things you did as a secular artiste?
Life as a secular artiste was very challenging. I said challenging because it is more like satisfying your selfish and personal intentions by following the crowd. So, in effect, it’s deceitful and fake. That (kind of) life cuts you off the major plan God has for you as an artiste. As a secular artiste, I was not close to my inspiration and was not real to myself. I was almost christened ‘the king of night life’ but today, I have found peace and assurance, and I’m dedicated to my career.
You’re not growing any younger, any plan to marry soon?
Most definitely, everything is in place, just waiting to unleash the dragon (laughter).
Who is the woman in your life?
When the time comes, I will let the world know her. But for now, all I’ll say is that, she’s a great woman.
What was 2018 like and what are your plans for 2019?
I am coming up with an unquestionable project that will glorify God. I am also organising my first major show in Benin City in March.