By Christopher Oji
For UK-based Nigerian gospel artiste, Amaka Beatrice Ogba, a.k.a Amiexcel, music has always been her passion.
Today, her virtual musical show, Worship Experience with Amiexcel (WEWA) has grown in leaps and bounds, winning the Best Gospel Event Organiser award in the Maranatha Awards USA.
In this interview, Amiexcel who has a Bachelor’s degree from Imo State University and Master’s from University of Lincoln, United Kingdom, opens up on her career, challenges and astronomical growth to stardom. Here are excerpts:
How did you come into music?
I am that child of God who boldly declares with every element of conviction that God loves me, and in His infinite loving-kindness He’s mindful of me. He has told me from the very beginning, ‘I have given you a voice that will be heard globally’. So, walking through life experiences, having started my music career in 1994, I can reflect and tell of God’s overwhelming love and promotion right from my university days when I was appointed state zonal choir coordinator for Imo State at the age of 20. Hosting some of the cream of gospel music at the time, and holding big choir events among other giant strides, discharged supernaturally even up till this day. Today, from the UK, something tremendous has been happening. It all began at a time when there was great turbulence in the world. God again picked me as a vessel and an outstretched arm of help, motivation, support and inspiration to the nations of the world, and one of the biggest virtual gospel programmes, Worship Experience with Amiexcel, was born. The programme has grown in leaps and bounds, and is in the business of hosting all categories of gospel music ministers worldwide. The records are there of God’s awesomeness in my life as the founder and convener of this life-transforming virtual gospel programme. This has been a big accomplishment. In 2020, WEWA won the Maranatha USA Awards for the Best Worship Event Organiser.
How long have you been doing music?
My love for music began at a very tender age, but I joined a choir at 11. In 1994, I underwent a phase of training, which transitioned into me being choir leader with developed skills in songwriting. In 2019, I became a recording artiste, releasing my first single, Shine the Light. Since then, it has been astronomical growth in my music journey, releasing more singles and featuring top-notch gospel artistes, and now I am putting finishing touches to my upcoming album.
Why did you choose gospel music?
Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance and definition of gospel music vary according to knowledge of the scriptures, culture and social context. The music I do is born from a standpoint of hope, magnification and inspiration of all and sundry because it is a quick work God is doing in these last days through gospel music ministers to get people’s minds and hearts prepared. Just by listening to the lyrics of gospel music, they automatically find that pressing need to give their hearts to Christ. All We Ever Need, a powerful single released in 2021 featuring the impeccable Ruthney Daibo, is one to reckon with based on the foregoing.
Tell us more about the songs you’ve released so far?
So far, I have released three singles, Shine the Light 1 and Shine the Light 2 featuring Ntieno, and All We Ever Need. In a matter of days, two powerful singles, Supernatural and Great God will be hitting the airwaves locally and internationally. I am optimistic that by the end of this year my first album will be released.
What inspires your songs?
The inspiration is from my ever-consistent relationship with God. My songs are a great reflection of his never-ending love, faith, hope, healing and inspiration. I must also add that my music encompasses all the musical influences I have been exposed to.
What are the challenges you face as an independent artiste?
It is possible for an independent artiste not to know his or her strengths and weaknesses, because it is largely believed that the labels exert a great deal of expertise in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of their signed artistes. Also, there is the challenge of not studying the business for those who choose to completely monetise their gifts. It is important to know and manage the financial side of your music career. It is also important to know how the music business really works. Not knowing this can cause you to overlook income streams, enter bad contracts and just make bad career decisions. So, what experience does for us is to become a student of the industry.
Some people say to be a successful female musician, you have to sleep your way to the top; how true is this?
I think that’s one statement that is attributed to secular and not gospel music. I am largely convinced that a true female gospel music minister who upholds the commandments as written in the scriptures will never engage in any form of immorality just for fame or riches. Our bodies are living tabernacles, Christ dwells in us and upright gospel music ministers never lose sight of this.
As a beautiful singer, have you had an embarrassing encounter with a male fan?
There has not been any such thing.
Why did you leave Nigeria to sing in the Diaspora?
As life unfolds, our goals, careers, dreams and aspirations set us apart, putting us on preconceived pedestals; and that’s how I have become a UK-based Nigerian gospel artiste.
How has the white audience accepted your music and how are you coping with racial discrimination overseas?
As a gospel artiste, it is expected that your church members and colleagues are your number one fans, and I must say that the feedback, love and encouragement I have received from whites have been heartwarming. You find your white friends, colleagues and church members singing your songs and asking when the next release would be. Since I relocated from Nigeria to England, the feedback has been amazing, overwhelming.
Do men intimidate you?
Everyone’s got his or her space. The sky is big enough for everyone to shine. When God gives you an assignment, everything you require for the fulfillment of such assignment is embedded in that call. If you are conscious of this mindset, there would be nothing like intimidation.
What did the pandemic deprive you of and how did you pull through?
For me, the global pandemic was an era of promotion, because it was at that time that a phase of my walk in God began. It was a time where there was great turbulence in the world but God picked me as a vessel and inspiration to many people in the world. It was in that period that WEWA was born.
What are the challenges of doing gospel music abroad?
One of the challenges of doing gospel music abroad is the crossover appeal. Most gospel music ministers lack a global view and attitude. I once heard someone say just because I had an African name or background it did not limit me in being able to carry people from other cultures along. Before now, I have had to tackle the distorted thoughts that most Africans ponder while living abroad. Many of us make excuses like: ‘We have accent. We have African names. They only accept their own. They may not like my own kind of music, so I had better stick to my own or try to sing like them’. But we fail to remember and value our potential as children of God, and the same God who created the people overseas also created us. And, if he has called you, he will give you the resources and the help to make the vision a reality, regardless of the odds that are stacked against you. Another challenge is the lack of excellence in our music. We don’t want to take the time to write and produce excellent songs. We are in a country where excellence is a priority. We cannot afford to take the rush mentality and translate it into our work. Whatever you produce as a musician lives on even after you are gone. And if you want to be taken seriously, be consistent in all that you do. Excellence is key and must be highly brought to bear on everything.
What are your projections for the rest of the year?
I am largely optimistic to bless the world with a well-packaged studio album. WEWA Global has plans to have one of the biggest live concerts in the UK, where we will fly in top gospel artistes for a life-transforming musical jam.