Sensational Nigerian artist now turned gospel musician ONYEKACHI Elizabeth Gilbert Onwuka, better known as Yeka Onka has recounted how she switched from singing worldly songs to gospel songs.
She recounted her transitions from her secular music into her new found love in gospel music. She disclosed in an interview with The Pleasures Magazine, she disclosed that she went on a three months retreat, prayed, and fasted on the mountain top in order to hear from God.
WHO IS YEKA ONKA?
I am a Nigerian singer and songwriter. Born and raised in Abia state Nigeria. I’m the 5th of a family of five which musically influenced me from the cradle.
My foray into music professionally kicked off in 2011 after I participated and emerged the winner of the maiden edition of a Nigerian singing show.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD. WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS GROWING UP?
Growing up was fun and memorable. I was brought up in a rural area in Nigeria. However, it was a beautiful environment, one void of discrimination. People in my community lived like one big happy family and you couldn’t differentiate one family from the other. It was a close-knit community because our parents ensured that their differences did not jeopardize the peaceful and harmonious relationships among all the children in the community. We were free to eat and play at one another’s houses at will. One of the memories that crawl out to me most are those cool nights with the full moon when all the families in our community would sit outside on their mats and kitchens stools, laughing, playing night games like Tempe Tempe, nchoroko, Orioma, Suwe, epele and then round the night up listening to Papa Ogadinma tell us Tales, proverbs and riddles while the tender hands of sleep gradually fade into a fairy dreamland till the morning comes.
WHAT ASPECT OF YOUR BACKGROUND HAS BEEN MOST HELPFUL TO YOUR EXPERIENCE THAT SHOULD RESONATE WITH AN AVERAGE AFRICAN YOUTH?
It’s easy for me to relate to the plight of an average African youth. More than what the
media tells us, I have lived and experienced these struggles. I have walked in their shoes. It was
all about surviving one day at a time. Between, school, homework( keeping the first position in
class ), getting on the streets to “hawk” goods, and making it back home safe.
WHAT OTHER KEY-SHAPED YOUR PERSONALITY?
The God-factor! That kept and shaped the elements of my personality.
HOW DID IT ALL START. WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO CHOOSE MUSIC?
I would say that music chose to gain expression through me… better put, God deposited a sound in this soul and gave me the drive to do everything in my power to release it over the earth. God is a master planner, He predestined me for a time like this. He carefully chose my caretakers ( Parents) who influenced me from the cradle…He rules over the affairs of men! I get inspired every day by the testimonies I receive from people who encountered God while they listened to my sound. The desire to be a blessing to this generation and the body of Christ keeps me motivated.
First of all, I would be nothing and nowhere without God.
I’ve had tons of moments of self-doubt, times when I said “ I’m done”. I’ve had my fair share of disappointments and failures. I’ve had to spend thousands of dollars on music projects and have nothing to show for it, but in all these, I’ve learned to pay attention to the lessons, not the experience itself. The “lessons” are the strategies I apply every day. I am naturally a very sensitive person and God has helped me use that to my advantage. So whenever I sense any form of resistance, I stay alert to learn and grow.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY COMPARED TO WHEN YOU JUST JOINED?
I believe the industry is a lot easier now. I’m not sure people still pay unreasonable amounts of money for their songs to gain good airplay these social media days. Music circulation is no longer monopolized. Social Media has brought everybody into a common village where we now have unfettered access to diverse unique sounds from different tribes, languages, and nations of the world.
WHY DID YOU LEAVE SECULAR MUSIC FOR THE GOSPE?
I understand the purpose of my life and it’s just more fulfilling for me to let God use my sound for His glory. It’s my choice to be His vessel.
SOME BELIEVE GOSPEL MUSIC IS NOT LUCRATIVE, THE REASON THEY TURN TO BE SECULAR SINGERS EVEN AFTER THEY STARTED IN THE CHURCH?
I can’t tell if the gospel music industry is lucrative or not based on my rookie experience so far. Every worship that I’ve released is not based on what I may stand to gain. I just want to see Christ glorified! I want to see lives impacted!
The problem here most times are impatience, disobedience, inconsistency, lack of originality, and trying to use God as a means to an end.
Some of us do not have the patience to go through the process of refining, crushing, and molding. The Obedience to follow the simple instructions that seem stupid to the human mind and respecting the originality of your sound enough to harness it.
WHAT ARE YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE GOSPEL MUSIC INDUSTRY?
The Nigerian gospel music industry has, over the years, evolved to become influential on the universal sound.
With all the negative impressions the world has about Nigerians, Our music industry generally has given some of us in the diaspora some credibility.
I know that a lot of the psalmists in the industry are struggling to be heard. I would say, start with your local assembly. SERVE! be humble and consistent, Use social media, There’s a place for you.
PROJECTS AT HAND?
I am currently working on an album and writing a book but while I’m at that, I’ll be releasing more Live worship sessions as I’ve seen how that has impacted so many lives.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YEKA IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
If Christ tarries, In 5 years, I see myself making more global impact through gospel music and the anointing of the Holy ghost.
Traveling the nations of the world doing ministry, releasing this sound that God has given me over the corners of the earth.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS SO FAR.
My biggest success so far would be, the decision I made to let God mold me into a vessel He can use for his glory.
DO YOU HAVE ROLE MODELS?
I couldn’t have been able to do what I do without the direction and influence of the Holyspirit.
Also, God has blessed me with the gift of men and women with great leadership, excellence, faith, and influence. My Pastors, are Pastor Jerry, Pastor Eno, Pastors Godstime and Joyce Pender. My adopted mother Rev Mo’tolani Abike and Pastor Stacy Egbo. These people and more have influenced my life in ways I can not explain.
FINAL WORD TO YOUNG PEOPLE
Find you, be you, and be consistent at that.