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Prince Samuel Adetunji Adeosun, one of the early gospel musicians in Nigerian has passed on in the early hours of today, Tuesday 28th June, 2016. According to his children, he was aged 94.
Pa Samuel Adeosun, who came to limelight through the choir of Christ Apostolic Choir (CAC) Alagomeji, Yaba, composed so many songs that have now become the real church songs for evangelism. Songs like Ko seni bi Jesu, Tete Baba ko gbo temi, Gbekele Onigbagbo, are early church songs that minister to souls especially amongst the Yoruba speaking people across the world.
Speaking with Elifeonline.net in 2006, Pa Adeosun traced his life history, looking at how songs came to him and what he has been able to do with the gifts from God. The interview is reproduced below.
Name: Prince Samuel Adetunji Adeosun
Town: Erin Ijesha, Osun State.
* Customs and Excise
* Savannah Bank, Lagos.
Food: Pounded Yam
Local Artiste: I.K. Dairo.
Foreign Artiste: Jim Reeves.
Instrument: I started with flute
Turn off: Careless talks.
TV Prog: Religious programmes
Bible Verse: Matthew 6: 36
Bible Book: Psalms.
Church: Christ Apostolic Church.
Hobbies: Playing music on the piano.
Organisation: Church Choir only.
Contact Address: 15, I. K. Dairo Street, Lawanson, Suru Lere, Lagos, Nigeria.
IN THE BEGINNING
“Music was a major subject in schools during the colonial days. When I was in the secondary school at Efon Alaye, I started with the flute, which I played during the Empire day celebration. Because I had the knowledge of the flute, a teacher, Mr Owolabi took interest in me and gave me all the encouragements I needed.
“When I got to Lagos in 1940, I became a teacher at Christ Church Cathedral School, Ajele, Lagos. The school had a piano, which nobody could play.
“There was a music school owned by one Da-Silva and another one at Apapa Road. I had to join both schools to learn how to play the piano. Whenever we were on break, I would go and practise on the organ. When the headmaster, Mr. Barber, a native of Abeokuta saw me, he brought two other people to learn from me.”
“I was so attached to the piano that my passion for it grew tremendously. The desire to compose began in me dramatically; often I would find myself in dreams singing in the church. When I woke up, I would put the songs together and so many people began to wonder how I composed such songs. The first song I composed was Kristi mo f’ara mi fun o and it became my first album.
“I attended CAC Ebute Elefun, Lagos where I joined the choir. When we moved from Moloney to Ebute Meta, I joined C.A.C Alagomeji. While in that church, my passion for music had exposed a deficiency that nobody in the church could compose songs. I discovered that almost all their songs were old. It was an opportunity for me to explode because I had composed so many songs waiting for use.
“Whenever the choir was to celebrate their festival, I gave them new songs. Some of the songs I have recorded in my tape recorder would be played for the organist, who would then ask me to teach the choir. This went on for a long time until it became extended to the outside world through the recording of songs on vinyl.
“The idea to record on vinyl began through my friendship with the late juju maestro, I.K. Dairo. Whenever he came to Lagos from Ibadan to play at the Island Club or Yoruba Tennis Club, he stayed in my house. One day, we both went to Decca where we met a group, which later became known as Gospel Choral Singers led by Evangelist S.O.Akinpelu. They were rehearsing church songs.
“When I made enquiries, I found out that they were a gospel group based in Ibadan and were about to record on vinyl. This was a great challenge for me because I was also singing, composing and had a choir.
“Right there, I knew within me that I could also do what this man was doing. I could put together the choir and also make an album. When I told I. K. Dairo that I could jolly well do what the man was doing, he took me to an officer in the company called Shanuolu. He asked if I could mobilise my choir to the studio immediately and I said yes.
“On getting to the choir practice the following Tuesday, I told them we would soon be recording at Decca. This brought joy to so many of them. We went on rehearsing our songs including Kristi mo f’ara me fun o.
“Later, Decca brought their vehicle to convey us to the studio where we recorded and my album was released in earnest. The album sold like hot cake but we were paid a pittance, about four pence.
“However, right from the first day I never bothered about royalty because I was a full staff of Savannah Bank and I earned well. Even, the church offered to pay me N150.00 monthly which I refused, I told the church that whatever the choir made belonged to the church and the pastor, after all, I was well paid where I worked. Since then, we have released about 50 albums.
“I was the first person to release a gospel record in Nigeria and I never collected a kobo from either Decca or the church. The gospel songs I heard before the release of my record were the songs of one Baba Sowande, which were only played on radio. I composed all the songs and I own them, but the instruments were provided by the church and Decca.
RELATIONSHIP WITH I. K. DAIRO
“One-day, I. K. Dairo brought me to Lawanson and pointed at a half completed building which he said was for sale it and that he planned to buy it. He then asked me my own plans to build a house. He worried me so much that I quickly got a loan in my bank and began to build a house in the same vicinity.
“However, I.K could not complete his own building but as a friend, I introduced him to my bosses at the bank who assisted him with a loan.
For that reason, our friendship became so great that when he was alive, he never stopped mentioning it that “Adeoshun had helped me to complete his building.
“So many challenges came because I was doing well. Such challenges range from jealousy to envy by the people around me. It got to a stage that I never knew the reason for these problems. The major challenge came when I built my house. One man and his wife argued that I must have got the money to build the house from Decca using the name of the church choir. These people had forgotten that I worked at a bank and I was well paid. Hardly was there anything I wanted to do that I could not do as a banker. I bought my first car in 1965; I had a rewarding career in the bank.
” The problem became an open thing in the church just at the time we had only released three to four records. I later took all my documents to the church for them to know the truth about the building.
“Another problem had to do with the invitation extended to me by various churches and societies to compose songs for them on their special occasions. Not many people loved the fame and recognition I had, but today God has vindicated me.
“Yoruba people have a saying that though the pepper is harsh, yet everybody desires it. The authorities of the church loved me so much and they all cherished me. They wanted more of me and so made me an adviser to the choir.
” My problem was not with the church, it was with some individuals in the church. I had to withdraw somehow from the choir because I felt I had have done enough. I led the choir for three decades during which we released so many songs, participated in many live shows on television and radio stations such as NTA, LTV5 now (LTV 8) Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and Radio Lagos.
“My inspiration comes anytime: It could be while I am driving or sleeping. The revving of the engine could spur a new tune in me. I remember one day I had to park my car while driving so as to write down a song that came to me. Some of my songs also came from my experiences; I composed some while I was in pain and some with tears.
“The song, Tete baba ko gbo temi, came out of a disappointment by a friend I had trusted so much. The misunderstanding affected me so badly that when I got home, I collapsed in my bed, shedding tears. When I opened my mouth, the song leapt out.
” Later, I discovered that the song was good and I recorded it in my ever-present recorder. It is a regular experience for me to find myself singing in the midst of people, spirits and heavenly forces. These are the songs I wrote, developed and put on vinyl.
GOSPEL MUSIC TODAY
“I am sad about what we hear today as gospel music. Originality is lost, profound praise and worship is lost and what obtains is the habit of picking old songs from old albums, distorting them in the name of innovation and releasing them as new songs.
“We can hardly hear good lyrics in these songs. What we hear include rap, hip-hop, etc and many of us can hardly relate to them. Even in America, rap music has not gained much acceptance because it is a street music, not from the mind of God. The young ones now bring the gospel to fit into the parameter of the world rather than conform the world to the spirit of God.” .
© Bola Adewara.