Alas, MTN Is Sponsoring Gospel Music In Ghana

One of the biggest struggles of the spread of the gospel is the vigorous reluctance of corporate organizations  to sponsor gospel events, media and talents. Outside of the Far East, where neo-communist governance (almost) outlaws open gospel activities, Africa records the highest corporate disfavor for gospel arts - though the continent is presently the most Christianized on earth. It is therefore both applause-worthy and interesting that MTN is sponsoring a gospel concert; one of international repute; with Pepsi and Eurostar co-sponsoring.

American leading worship leader and pastor, William Mcdowell and Nigeria's queen of worship, Sinach, are the poster-acts in the MTN Ghana Stands In Worship Concert holding at the Accra sports stadium 6pm tomorrow, Saturday October 10. What's more, BEHOLD the event is gated, with fees going as high as 50GHc($14 or N5000).

This would baffle the average Nigerian gospel entertainment crew. {Original post}Yet no nation sees up to 500,000 people gather for a gospel concert outside of South America and maybe South/East Asia, but Nigeria. Organizers of this mega-event, House On The Rock Church, do not even consider charging a fee - they do not as little as take a freewill offering; as earth-shaking successful as the annual concert has been.

In Nigeria too, there are, arguably, more churches than credit-worthy businesses. Still gospel music and other gospel arts suffer the most rebuffs from non-religious corporate firms. Even production crews of entertainment projects openly disqualify gospel entries advising to 'do something else but gospel'.

Curiously, possibly 70% of the finest entertainment people were in church choirs, drama departments and media units. To an odd extent, the trend seems to be that talented individuals join churches when nobody else saw potential in them; and for the opportunity to exercise their talents, have theme honed into skills, enjoy stage time - all free of charge. Then they advance on to the mainstream entertainment/media sector, worked into marketable shape. And when the opportunity comes to influence the promotion of gospel acts in the mainstream sector, they fail to see potential.

One wonders, for instance, where 'Destiny Child talent competition has gone. Of all non-denominational gospel talent contests out there, Creative Concepts  'Rising Star' - in collaboration with Global Audio Factory - seems to be the only consistent (more like persistent) - holding out to provide a more suitable alternative for talented church singers who would not back down from the secular music producers and marketers' persuasion.

The situation is not all dire in Nigeria, however, as gospel entertainment does enjoy minute pockets of sponsorship every now and then, especially in mega-cities like Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt; but nothing that could be categorized as 'promoting'. Hence, a lot needs to happen for gospel Entertainment to grow into industry recognition.

Entertainment (and related) industry leaders seem to prefer keeping their scouting outside of worship circles. Those who have the courage to invest in the gospel arts possess mainly personal conviction, energy, ideas, passion and no cash. On further thought, it would make commercial sense for Entertainment scouts who have either funds or access to funding to sponsor gospel entertainment if only  to find talents earlier than their industry competitors who prefer to wait in studios for talents graduating from the church art departments to find them.

This being the situation, Gospel music followers in Africa will have to commend Ghanaian show host Fifi Folson and Imajin Advertising for the courageous work of promoting gospel music and worship acts in the West African country. And those who cannot be in Accra tomorrow will relish a live report of the MTN Ghana Stands In Worship Concert. Take note Fifi.

Uduak Umo
A PR Consultant, Public Analyst, Writer & Music Analyst