BY OGE OKAFOR
Kenny Saint Brown, popularly known as KSB, is a multiple award winning artiste, author, life coach and mother of two young adults, a feat she attributes to the reward of being called. This interview with her tells how she has wriggled out from the many setbacks that held her down in the past and launched her to a great comeback. Enjoy reading…
It has been quiet at your end; we don’t get to see you doing your stuff, what has been happening to you?
Yes, as a singer, it seems as if I have been quiet but I have not really been quiet. I have been quiet getting involved in other things; I have been involved in politics for three years now. I ran for the house of assembly, Lagos State two years ago and consult now for the ministry of arts and culture doing jobs with them. I was involved in Lagos at 50, which was massive; my hands were part of the hands on deck. Also, I am a minister of the gospel preaching, teaching and speaking now because of my book. So, I have been doing bigger stuff and also working in the studio at the same time to release new songs. I have been busier than ever; I am also involved as an executive in my local assembly. I am also a single parent with two teenagers that go to school from home, which is 75 percent commitment some women resigned to do. So, I combine all of these.
You said you are an ordained minister of the gospel, what made you venture into the ministry?
I didn’t venture into ministry; ministry is my life. It is what I have always done; it’s actually my career for almost 22 years. The fact that I was just ordained doesn’t mean I have not been doing it. All my working life, after I got my masters in 1995 from the University of Benin, God pulled me from there and said we should go into partnership. Though I didn’t know what nature of partnership but I just trusted God that it will be good. From working as a servant in the house of the Lord, I have been able to birth a lot of things. First, we birth Kennis Music communication with my brother, and then we created the entertainment industry and gave it a total revolution. Thereafter, I faced my career as a gospel artiste, which blossomed from ministry. Then I started my business KSB International consulting and went into bigger things as the Lord led me to politics. There was also a time I went into occasional acting but it wasn’t my career and now I have a food business. I am still a proud mother of two and now an author; ministry has helped me to birth so many things where I can say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. I think that has been the drive for me.
How did you get into singing?
Singing was actually a reward for going into ministry; my calling is praying. The partnership I was called into is intercession, which is my life and teaching came out of that. The compensation I get from God for a job well done is that He gives me songs. When He gave me music when he thought I had finished the assignment given and needed to return back to Nigeria. I was in the UK as an intercessor and part of the team for the biggest branch of the Redeemed church in London, (Jesus House) and also festival of life, a program they call Holy Ghost congress in Nigeria. I started singing the music, which has never stopped. When I get inspiration, I write them down and can come when I am praying, out of pain, joy, appreciation of the personality of God himself. It could come to motivate, inspire me when I am going through pain or setbacks to encourage me and to encourage others as well. And then we get into the studio to record.
How would you describe your years in the industry? Has it been smooth sailing?
No, it can’t be smooth sailing. There have been setbacks and hiccups but it has been for me the period of creating a revolution because I came into the music industry when there was no industry. There was absolutely nothing and because I understand how God works- He always takes me to virgin grounds. I have enjoyed and experienced God in that form such that I get bored and unfulfilled doing the same thing everybody is doing. So, I called my wonderful brother, Keke Ogungbe to ask if we could do music and he encouraged me into it if I know I could. With his trust, I formed the company, recruited the staff in order to market me. Keke was to be involved in the promotions while I took on the production and marketing; all I did was to trust God, which He did, to teach me what to do every step of the way. It is the same Kennis Music of 20 years that has blossomed and given birth to so many talents; it has encouraged a lot of people to start something in the industry. We developed it and succeeded at it; I love being part of the fresh start and success story and when it was time to move to new things, I did. People may see me as inconsistent but I have done music, I am doing music but there is more to me than music. I still lead worship and more of a worshipper now than ever; in fact my new album is pure worship. People are expecting it to be hip-hop but God says He wants something new from me and it’s worship. I found out that I am a plantation and I need to explore myself in God.
So, how have you been able to juggle your career, motherhood, ministry and politics all in one breath?
It is the sheer grace of God. My favourite bible scripture in 2Corithians 9:8 says ‘God is able to make all grace abound towards you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.’ In that verse, there are five ALLs and that is what is actually manifesting in my life. I can do anything I put my mind to. The grace is in abundance and I forbid wasting the grace that God has released for me. I don’t have any ambition, I just let the grace of God work through me and give me a hint on what to do and I run with it. That is why I have been able to do so many things and people are amazed that I am still singing when I release a new song. Some hate me for it and some are amazed for it and I give God the glory for all of them.
You are a minister of the gospel in charge of the teens in New Anointing Revival Assembly, why are you handing the youth arm and not the music ministry your niche?
It’s entirely my pastor’s idea and started because we didn’t have the teens’ arm of the church. He felt I should be able to handle the teens because I am someone young people look up to because of the songs I do. I did that for almost seven years and because we didn’t have a youth church, we called it ‘youth church’. The youth church is like a first and breakfast service, not just for young people and I am the minister in charge of the breakfast because the message is tailored for the youths. God has helped me from being a teens’ pastor for seven years to grow these teenagers who have grown into young adults. It was the idea of my spiritual mentor, leader, father and it is the work that he tells you to do that you do.
How did you come about your relationship with Apostle Anselm Madubuko?
God sent me there. When I came back from the UK, I went to the Redeemed bible school, had my PGD in theology and was ordained by Pastor Adeboye. While I served in the Redeemed church as an assistant pastor, God said He was moving me to Revival Assembly; I refused and continued where I left off and later joined ‘This Present House’ for a year because I felt it was the same background as Redeemed. Meanwhile, the apostle had met me and invited me to church, which I turned down; not until God whipped me did I cry to him a year later. I forgot that we are the body of Christ but in different location for the service He had given us, which I didn’t understand at that time. It has been 16 years since I joined the ministry.
You were in the eye of the public in the early years of your marriage with so many controversy, how did you handle it?
It is not controversy and I don’t want to talk about marriage. There was nothing to handle because I lost it; I cried, at least I am flesh and blood. I suffered what everybody else suffered- the setbacks, heartbreak and loss; and like you said not controversies but so many blackmails. It was more of blackmails and blackmail is never palatable to any saint not even to angels. He did the damage he had to do but I found myself in the damage. I found my strength, might, purpose and grace to absorb everything absorbable- the pain, the guilt on the other person’s behalf, the acceptance of how it was and the humility to ask God for a turnaround. God picked me up and turned my captivity around. It was a captivity stage, which now I see that it was necessary for me to get into purpose and align myself to the design of God because I didn’t see any design in what I was doing. I learnt patience in marriage; patience finished its work in me because it’s been over 10 years. All I have seen coming out of me is the work of patience and what patience has enabled me to acquire, venture and the product that I am turned out to become- a good product at that. The virtues, values, honour, celebration, money, acceptance, recommendation- all of that, patience taught me. The grace was available, mercy was at work but patience did most of the work for me. When I was very broke, things were difficult and life was hard, I had the support of my wonderful family; my sister, Mrs Moji Dopkesi, amazing and tough though, threw me out there to go get my strength and voice. Likewise my brother, Keke, who will always urge me to let my voice be heard if the church wasn’t bringing invitation. Then I had Apostle Anselm Madubuko and his late wife, Pastor Connie (amazing parents) holding me by both hands and giving me their feet to walk.
What do you think is people’s misconception about you?
It is okay. The number one misconception about me is that I can’t even sing and then you came into my apartment and saw awards. There was a time I lost the voice to sing; life took it. Everything and anything that could add value to me was taken including the name; I was stripped of honour. I recently changed to Kenny Saint Best but because of my book and children; they are officially Brown. Some still aren’t sure if I am called and some don’t think I am born-again. They wonder how someone who is born-again could be doing songs with secular artistes, forgetting I was buying into their audience. These are the core people I have been sent to and not the church and I even married one of them. They even say ‘how can she marry him? How can she sing?’ They just want to remove my background from my personality. So people just think I wear anything, others think ‘she is Keke sister!’ The value that should be appreciated in me as a star was taken away and I was looked at as one who has no value, ideology, intelligence, intellectual property- it is just damaging. And when you stand in front of them to sing and feel like you don’t have it because of what somebody said. Guess what? I ride over them and look out for that face that appreciates you; connect to that person and shoot. It is even dangerous when you are accepted by all. All I have is boldness and confidence and the sense of ‘I can get it done’ and that pushes me.
During those turbulent times you had, the pains and loneliness, do you think there was anything you could have done differently as at that time?
Absolutely nothing because imagine that right now I am not divorced; people don’t know that. These are issues that one just rushes to the court and the marriage is dissolved; all I needed to do was what I did. I sought God as though my new life was in Him and needed to hand it over to Him, which was what I did. I became addicted to seeking God’s face and live my life in the presence of God. So, there was absolutely nothing I could have done different and thank God He chased me to a praying church; I have no regrets. It doesn’t mean that I am not getting married again but that wasn’t my priority; I just wanted my life, value, honour and glory as I also sang in my song. That is why I can talk about it in my book ‘From setbacks to comeback’.
Let’s talk about your new book, what is the motivation for writing the book?
It’s my experience, pain and setbacks; then the fact that I had a great comeback with multiple influences and functions. I had a setback as a singer but a comeback as a singer, preacher, speaker, politician, better person, businesswoman, entrepreneur, consultant and counselor.
How has the reception towards the book been?
It has been amazing and people are asking for it everywhere I go. They love it; from the very first page to the last, it is full of inspiration.