For Jacob Kunle Ajomale, singing is his second nature. So, for 30 years, JKA as popularly called, has been composing, producing and singing melodious & inspiring messages to entertain and win souls as narrated in this interview:
Let’s take a peep into how it all started.
I joined the church choir in 1969, about 48years ago, and I have wondered for several years, why was I in the choir?
I didn’t know the answer until sometimes in 2003 when I clocked 40 and my mum told me that I am a covenant child.
She told me how she had prayed to God that if He could give her a male child, she would dedicate the child to God.
So, I joined the choir in 1969, at age 6 and since then, I have been in the choir.
But, I never knew I was going professional until 1987, during my National Youth Service.
Before then, I was a member of the Gangan Caste, a drama and performing group at the Ogun State University, Ago Iwoye (Now, Olabisi Onabanjo University). Performance back in School then, was strictly for students ‘ weekly entertainment because, we were just the pioneer set and only engaged in creating entertainment for ourselves on campus.
Thereafter, I went for my Youth Service in the former Bendel State and still continued with stage performances.
But it was while serving that PA Obafemi Awolowo died in 1987 and it was an opportunity for me to pay him my tribute in my very first album titled, “Eriwo”.
I recalled then, when we were in School, March 4, 1983 precisely, Late Chief Awolowo came for the turning of the first sod of the permanent campus site, and the ‘Gangan Caste’ put up a performance to entertain the dignitaries at the occasion which also included late Governor Olabisi Onabanjo among others.
Chief Awolowo was very thrilled by the performance that he particularly made mention of the lead singer, that was me, and that, really meant a lot to me.
So, when he died, I traveled to Ikenne to research about the sage and I got all the support from the family especially late mama HID Awolowo. I got information about all his achievements and then composed all that into music. I didn’t know I was breaking the grounds.
Surprisingly, the album won the best Corper’s award, 1987, in Bendel State and got me an automatic employment. That was the greatest motivation.
Though the CD did not realize so much money, but it marked my beginning and foray into professional music. It took me another seven years to release my next album and that was in 1994.
So, would you say you turned Professional in 1987 or 1994 and in all, how many albums have you churned out?
I became a professional the moment I sang “Eriwo” in memory of late Papa Awolowoin 1987. As a profesional, my music is in two folds, one, I minister in the church and I entertain at functions. I can go choral, sing decent songs at parties, songs that do not necessarily have to be gospel but soul lifting. I thank God I have been able to release up to eight albums since I started my music. I have however composed innumerable songs.
Does that mean your stage performances counted for your 30years of music?
Yes, by the grace of God.
Can you recall the music track that brought you into real limelight?
Talking personally, the album that actually brought me out, that was “Damuso”, that is, “The Comforter” released In 1994.
We sold a lot of copies and that was the album a lot of people heard abroad and they invited me on overseas tour.
Some others however, heard about the song I composed for my church, which is, “Lehin Jesu ko s’enikan”, which was released in 1991 and by 1993, the album had sold over a million copies.
With all humility, that joint performance (in “Lehin Jesu ko s’enikan”), was honestly, the beginning of my success in music. A lot of people didn’t know I was actually the one God gave the grace to compose that song track-“Lehin Jesu ko s’enikan”.
What was the real inspiration behind composing “Lehin Jesu ko s’enikan”?
Well, I actually heard a chorus when I was In my former church at C&S Movement, Sabo in 1987 when I came home on holiday; thereafter, when joined my present church, Surulere circuit, there was a request by the then choir master, now the Leader, for new songs, so I developed that chorus, built on it and then gave it to him and honestly, I never knew it would go far and become so popular.'
The church later went to the studio and the song was tracked number two after, “Lehin oke mimo”.
So, how was that particular track ministered to you?
Truly, the first stanza of that song, “Nigba iji aye ba de”, was a reference to what I was passing through at the time. It was a storm but I never knew a bigger storm was still awaiting me.
It was an experience of no house, landlord threatening and it was so tough. It was also during that time I also composed “Apata ayeraye” and then, “Gbe agbelebu re”.
Can one conclude that the lyrics of your songs represent what you go through in life?
In a way, yes. For example, in “Damuso”, part of the inspiration for the song came while I was sleeping; it was my dream. At times, I hear music from God. Even as we are talking I could hear music but if I don’t write it down, I will forget and it could go away.
So, I get inspiration from different sources. It could be from my environment, at times, from what people say and so on.
Just like my upcoming album, the beginning of it “Count your blessings”, it’s a friend of mine who is always saying, “Lakunle, count your blessings “. In America, he said it, when I came back to Nigeria, he will call me still say the same thing. The day I went to the studio and he called, he still made that statement and I told him, “that your count your blessing is the beginning of the new album I’m about to release”.
That means, my music and message is always divine.
How have you been able to get your audience together in 30 years, sustain them and make them yearn for your Genre of music?
First of all, I want to thank God Almighty for the grace of people He blessed me with in the industry. It is spiritual, its political and through every sphere of life, I have been able to meet a lot of people.
You can imagine during President Obasanjo’s first official visit to Washington, I was the one that played for him and the music was so melodious to him that he had to come up stage to hold me and ask, “what’s your name, how come I didn’t know you back in Nigeria?
I have met and even been with the present Oba of Lagos, Oba Akinolu, he came to Washington too and danced to my music. I have played for the present Oba Oniru, late Oba of Benin when I served in his palace; and the present Oba of Epe, during his daughter’s wedding. So, if people have not been inspired and I have not been playing good music, these people would not have been my fans. I thank God that I have great consumers of my music and I can’t name them all.
I recall former Nigeria ambassador to the US, Professor Jubril Aminu once invited me to his house in Washington to appreciate me. I equally played at Baba Adeboye’s daughter’s wedding, Pastor Bolu, in the US. So my music really cuts across Socio-political and spiritual realm .
In 30 years then, you must have made multi-million in your genre of music. Is your brand of music very lucrative and commercially viable?
Really, I do not look at the monetary aspect of my music especially when I have to go a church to sing. This is because I have never charged churches when I go to sing even when I was in the US. All that they needed to do was to send air ticket if they later appreciate me with honorarium, fine. But once they say, “God bless you, I’m gone”.
However, when it comes to parties, weddings, anniversary and so on, I do charge because I do have a lot of responsibility to take care of for that.
For me, music has been a blessing, to God be all the Glory. Without looking at the monetary aspect, music is satisfying.
Yes, we’ve heard people say music can be satisfying and lifting to the soul; take David the Psalmist as an example; how true can this be when one is Faced with the downturn of life?
David the Psalmist I must say, is one of my mentors, Jesus being the greatest. David in his Psalms inspire me so much of the times and his Psalms give me a lot of inspiration to write.
Reading through the Books of Psalms, you find David go through lots of ups and downs of life and still at that like in Psalm 42:11, he wonders “Why are you forsaken, O My soul? Why so disturbed within me? For I will yet praise Him my saviour and my God”.
You see, when the storm was heavy on me about seven years ago, during the immigration issue, I was almost downcast but, there was this thing from the Scripture that encouraged me, that is, in Deuteronomy 30:6, “David encouraged himself”. So, I told myself, “JKA encouraged himself”. Then, I also found Godly people around me that motivated me.
I always remember the Bible says you fall seven times but you can rise seven times. So I had this very strong faith in God that no matter what it was, I will praise him still to my last breath.
How much longer are you willing to move on with professional Music?
I want to be a chorister till eternity. I want to be a musician till eternity. I want to play with the heavenly host by His grace. So, as long as I live, I wou
ld be a chorister. Whenever I travel no matter to where, I will look for a church to go and pay my weekly dues to the Lord. I am a chorister musician for life.
For the 30 years celebration program, what are we supposed to expect?
On that day, August 27, I am inviting dignitaries, friends and some well wishers to rejoice with me because God has spared me. I have a debt to pay; I owe God. That actually is the beginning of my new song. I am a debtor, I owe God and it’s the praises and worship of people on that day that would be put together to glorify the name of the Lord.
I am inviting friends, fans and family to come and rejoice with me and I believe we are going to have a glorious day.
I am expecting the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode with whom I went to St. Judes Ebute Netta to be my Very Special Guest of Honor, to grace the occasion likewise the Lagos State Commissioner of Tourism and Culture, Mrs. Adebimpe Akinsola is the Special Guest of Honour, the CEO of FinebCoats, Engr. Emmanuel Awode will host the day.
A new album and studio instruments would be launched as well and some of my colleagues have be invited to come launch with Otunba Peter Olufemi as Chief launcher.
Many other notable dignitaries including Chief Ebenezer Obey are being expected so also there will be royal touch from some royal families..
Besides your voice you use in praising God, do you play any instrument?
Yes, I play the key board. Sometimes, I play the keyboard to compose my songs because I am also a composer not just a singer. I do arrange and produce too. The keyboard is my main instrument of music but you can find me with the mouth organ too.
Finally, who are your contemporaries that you can be found relating with and who have continuedlpm to inspire you?
I do have colleagues, seniors and juniors as contemporaries in my genre of music the likes of King Sunny Ade, Don McLean, Ebenezer Obey, Funmi Aragbaye, Ayewa, Telemi, Tope Alabi, Nike Elegbede and others, I cant name. They are wonderful people and talented children of God who play very good music which I love.
You see, good music is a blend of three M’s–Melody, Message and Music. Today, many young artiste don’t recognize that to do a good music requires prayers and observing vigils. The message of a music is very key just as the melody. Many today have substituted good music with technology and the fact that the society does not really care about the message again.