By KEMI YESUFU
Steve Crown is probably the hottest gospel singer in the country right now. His hit single, You Are Great is a favourite of lovers of gospel music as well as many church choirs.
In this interview, the graduate of Federal Polytechnic, Zamfara State, speaks on the song that has brought him fame, his attempt at being a lawyer and how he handles distractions from the opposite sex. Enjoy it.
Did you start out in the church choir like most gospel artistes?
Yes I did. I believe that for an artiste to grow, you must have a root somewhere. You have to consistently practise your craft, and even for some secular artistes, they learned that consistency in the church choir. But I started singing at home because my mum and dad, as members of the local Anglican Church choir, sang a lot at home. My interest in singing developed right from childhood and I also enjoyed playing the drums as a child, and I diswturbed my parents a lot with my drumming. Despite this, I didn’t start thinking of a career in music as a child, I thought of myself more as a visual artiste. I did paintings of my parents, which were very good and I did tutorials on art. But as you grow, God begins to show you that the path you thought you would take might not be what He planned for you. So from art, I tried to be a lawyer. I have a diploma in law from UNIABUJA. Then, I ventured into studying Office Technology and Management. I still want to read other courses in the future. But now, I am fully into music.
How long have you been in music professionally?
One and a half years.
In less than two years, you have one of the biggest gospel songs, how did you do it?
How did I come about the hit song, You Are Great? Well, I don’t know if other people do it. But some times, I sit and ask myself questions. I keep trying to find the right answers to them. I ask myself questions on the existence of man. I ask myself how creation, sun, birds, and sea came about. Everything is just perfect. Time and season come and go without failing. I have asked myself questions about miracles. You see someone who had a problem and the problem was solved, just because he called upon Jesus. I wondered about all these mysteries. But the one that makes me wonder the most is God, who created heaven and earth, can we tell who created Him? Okay, that question can run anybody mad. So, for me, I felt that God who we can’t tell who created must be feared. He is just way too much for us to comprehend, and that is how You Are Great came about. Most prophets of old wrote about Him, but there is much more about Him that a human being can describe.
Did you expect the song to be such a huge hit?
I released the song with the hope that it would be a blessing to people. I wasn’t looking for any serious attention. Like I told you, I didn’t have any serious plan to go into music. But as God would have it, He orchestrated my life and brought me to this path. And one thing I have noticed is that, when He plans your life, everything falls in place. When God plans your life, you walk in grace and grace means no struggle.
Getting you for this interview took some time. You are very busy honouring invitations across the country. You must be making a lot of money…
(Laughs) Oh gosh! You see, most gospel ministers shy away from talking money. But we need money to push the gospel. So, yes, I do make a little money from appearances. But not so much money as some people think. When some guys see me on billboards, they would say ‘this guy don hammer’. But it’s not what they think. Most times, I don’t put money first. I am more interested in being a blessing wherever I minister. It is only God that can truly reward anyone. And most of the favours I received or the money I have gotten today is just by people blessing me, saying they appreciate how my songs have blessed their lives.
How do you cope with stardom?
It hasn’t been easy. I would say that it is a sweet feeling experiencing success. But now, I have to live with plenty of caution. Imagine that you have lived your life like everyone else, and all of a sudden, you are a known face. Recently, I went into a store around midnight to buy a few things and I thought I wouldn’t be recognised. But shortly after, some people started following me around and whispering ‘yes, he is the one’.
Also, on my way back to Abuja from Kaduna State recently, I stopped to buy corn and I ate plenty of it. The driver said he could understand why I ate as much as I could because I might not be able to do the same thing in Abuja. So, these are the little things I hardly can indulge myself in these days. And I cannot be seen in places that will send wrong messages about me.
These days gospel music is being diluted with secular music. You’ll even be amazed at the kind of dancing being exhibited in gospel music videos. What is your opinion?
The question is what can you define as a secular dance step? You suggested that gospel music should be calm and be something that people can meditate on. But Christians also need songs to praise God. Gospel brings joy, it’s shouldn’t only make you think. You can see that my album is a mixture of praise and worship songs, though I can say I’m basically a worshiper. I really feel gospel should be made to reach a wide range of people. We have the youth and we have to reach them, and they like dancing a lot. Maybe, we can reach them through dance in videos, though we still must be moderate.
Do you think a gospel artiste should be born-again or is gospel a genre for anyone who can put a good Christian song together?
Being born-again isn’t something you can define by mere appearances. I can tell you I’m born again and put up appearances to convince you, but I am really not born again. So, it is only God that can say who is truly born again. Therefore, being born-again is really about doing what is right and having good conscience. I don’t believe only people who feel they are born again should do gospel music. I know of secular artistes who have done gospel songs that have touched lives. I believe with time God can also touch them. To be honest, there are things we see in secular music videos that shouldn’t be on TV. But I believe that with time the secular artistes who still praise God can think of working solely for Him.
How do you cope with female attention? Are you single?
(Laughs) I have been coping by God’s grace. I have tried within my own strength and God’s grace to stay out of things that could be a problem to me.
What’s your idea of dating? Do you believe in finding the girl and then taking her to your pastor?
Oh please, let me keep that part of my life out of the public.
What do you say to complaints from women in churches that when it’s time to marry, ‘brothers’ go outside to pick wives, leaving ‘sisters’ in the lurch?
Really? I don’t know about this. It’s really a matter of choice. For me, in everything, including picking a wife, we should let God direct our decision. He is the best adviser to us.
So, is marriage a priority to you?
In the long term it is a priority. But for now, it is not topmost priority. This is because as a minister I need a wife to be shielded from some of these distractions, because they do confront me. But there are some things I need to put together as an individual, and in my ministry as an artiste, before I get married. You have to be prepared for marriage and seek God’s face before you get into it.