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Opinions of Saturday, 7 June 2014

Columnist: Kwaku Krobea Asante

KJV, Diana Asamoah’s Intention and Abe-Pe Show’s impression

“We have toiled, watched and witnessed our translated version of the bible grow and spread over centuries to become the first choice of many when quoting the scriptures. We have undergone progressive changes to make our version common and identifiable with all Christians, readers and users of the Bible the world over.

But sadly, we have realized that the King James Bible Version- our intellectual property, though popular has not yielded the financial entitlement due it. Our legal team is currently undertaking rigorous reclaiming exercise to take back the royalties from all those who have been using our intellectual property for little or no profit, with or without citation.

This statement is hereby to inform the preacher, the Bible teacher, the crusader, the organizers of the camp meeting, the writer, the columnist, the blogger, the analyst and the prophet down the Street in that Hamlet, somewhere in Asia that use the King James Version of the Bible- that means, as long as you receive a little income (Profit, Honorarium, Benefit) for using our property in your field of work, let us also receive our due financial entitlement or otherwise face our legal team in a court of proper jurisprudence”- The Queen and the Church of England.

Ridiculous as this statement may be, it may not be entirely out of place if they should truly release such a statement, considering what is currently ensuing in the quarters of the gospel music. I may not be much taken aback if a family suddenly shows up to say they trace their lineage to Luke- the Bible writer or even Paul, and that their great Grandfathers took pains to write those letters that have become epistles and articles of faith worldwide and so they should be given royalties for anything profitable their books are used for.

Late last year, Joyful Way Incorporation was reported to be dragging the new gospel Artiste, Joyce Blessing to court for using their famed song “W’ahendi” on her new Album. Today, we hear a certain Uncle Fiifi Hemans better known as ‘Abe-pe Show’ claiming ownership of the new track of Evangelist Diana Asamoah “Anopa Wiem Mframa” (Early Breeze of the dawn) on her latest album that’s making waves- Pentecost Soree Nwom. Abe-Pe show is now reported to be heading towards court to seek redress. And so I ask, what is our focus in making the gospel music: to make profit or to seek popularity? I may not have bothered if this was happening in the hi-life or hip-life genre. SK Original can be pulling Nana Boro over ‘Aha Ay3d3’ for all I care, Okyeame Quophi can make all the fuss about writing rap lyrics for Kwame, and that nameless guy can be barking wolves over the then hi-life singer Ofori Amponsah for stealing his song. In such scenarios I wouldn’t blink an eye, because they out rightly stated that their aim is to entertain, make money and be famous. But when issues like this keep happening in the gospel quarters, it calls for introspection.

It is not like I am oblivious to the commercial and copyright aspect of the gospel music, but is that the aim? Suffice to say, gather 100 gospel artistes and ask them if it is their aim to make money and claim popularity for themselves through their music and they will all decline. In fact, they’ll gracefully smile and shake their heads and then proceed to tell you how the Holy Spirit through diverse ways gives them songs, giving you all the scripture quotation on why they do music and that making impacts and bringing souls to Christ is their aim.

The primary aim of the gospel music is to preach the word of God, through music this time. To wit, the preacher behind the pulpit is not so much different from the singer standing by the instruments; the only difference is rhythm and instrumentation. The preacher shouts, twists and pauses ‘unrhythmically’ but the singer is guided by rhythms, key notations and time bars. The content of the preacher should not be any different from that of the gospel Musician. The instrumental accompaniment is to create more harmony to the message, make it easier to digest and remember.

Therefore, Uncle Hemans (Abe-Pe Show) calling Evangelist Asamoah to court on ‘Anopa Wiem Mframa’, is almost like trying to saying Arch Bishop Duncan William is pulling Bishop Dag-Heward Mills to the court room for preaching a message he (Arch Bishop) personally brought to birth and preached sometime ago. And this is a very unspiritual and selfish impression for every minister to make.

It clearly shows that the said minister is seeking self-glory, fame and honour for himself and not to evangelize or preach Christ to the listener, as it were. The minister is a vessel and not a master of what he/she does. He/she is just a channel to bring out what God intends to give to his people through the minister’s gifts and talents. And this is why the families of the Apostles cannot rise up today to claim royalties for the letters that their great grandfathers wrote.

The message of Christ is not an artful painting of just the painter that will warrant him or his family to claim ownership. Or they should rather come and tell us that the songs they sing are the products of their own ingenuity, intelligence and creativity and not the Holy Spirit giving it to them; perhaps that will make more sense. The Holy Spirit cannot give you a song just for your own good and profitability and not for others.

Needless to say, one of the things the Apostle Paul warned the Church from doing is going to court, especially when the matter had to do with a fellow Christian. To him, it was improper and somewhat a debacle for the Church if the Christian body could not handle its own cases but rather resorts to the courts where there could be unrighteous men. “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” (1 Cor. 6:1). Therefore, granted all the reasoning I have tried making would not hold, any proper Christian or a Minister of the word of God of a good standing would rather seek for scripturally prescribed way of dealing with a fellow brother in the Universal Body of Christ and not hurriedly jump to the media and the law courts. When a man makes a fence, you will know his level of wisdom. These issues clearly point out how these ministers have perceived what the ministry of Gospel Music is all about; it’s a money making venture! Perhaps we would appreciate the words of Christ once more “by their fruits….”

What’s more, Diana Asamoah meant no harm. Her compilation of the old Pentecostal songs was in good faith and she has clearly demonstrated it. Graphic Showbiz reports that she together with her Manager/Execultive Producer Anane Frimpong of Frimprince Music Production scrupulously sought permission from the Music Committee of the Pentecost Church Ghana headed by Apostle Ango on their idea of making the album Pentecost Soree Nwom.

Mr. Frimpong claims they were given the list of songs which included Anopa Wiem Mframa. He said they were made to understand that the song was composed in 1960 by a certain woman who was a member of the Church. And to show appreciation for the kind gesture from the Church, they duly thanked Apostle Dr. Opoku Onyina, Chairman of the Pentecost Church Ghana and Apostle Ango, the Music Committee head on their Album cover. Implicitly, if they knew Abe-Pe Show was the owner of the song, they wouldn’t have hesitated to seek his consent.

So why begrudge them? The intention of Evangelist Diana Asamoah and her manager is righteously clear and devoid of any ill will. Much as I’ll not engage in the tussle of whether Abe-Pe Show is the owner of the song or not, as a Gospel Music lover, I have heard and known this song as one of the many Pentecostal songs that has been sang over and over again by Gospel Musicians of the Pentecostal Church fraternity. Stella Aba Seal is one of such ministers whom I have known to have sung this song on big platforms.

I may not have known Uncle Hemans (Abe-Pe Show) in the days when he rocked the scenes with his songs, but the impression he has created for himself now is not a pleasant one. If these musicians would see themselves as co-workers gunning for one goal, such incidents of someone-has-sang-my-song wouldn’t come up in the first place. The Apostle Paul saw himself as playing his part in the big plan of the Gospel of Christ and so did he see Apollos. Hence he said, “I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the increase…” 1 Cor. 3:6. Sadly some Gospel Artistes do not want their fellows to water their seeds but rather let it rot, and thus how far we have come. The committee of VGMA 2013 went through hell before getting Gospel Musicians to award.

Until the originators of the King James Bible Version start demanding for royalties and be taking people to court, let the message of the gospel be handled truly as the bible deems it; “freely you have received, freely give…”