Ghanaian gospel artistes are pretty much like John the Baptist at Adom Praiz. Their work is to prepare the way for the international artiste to give a closing act.
Last Friday night, this script was flipped for the very first time for Elder Mireku, Nigerian gospel star Eben, played John the Baptist for the local champion.
And it is because, there is something about Elder Mireku. Something. Something.
It appears, when its Elder Mireku, the Holy Spirit does not join to help him, he comes to enjoy him like a jealous fan.
A jealousy that is seen in how anyone who comes close hits the floor. He is Elder Mireku’s invisible bouncer, enveloping him like some FBI security detail and making sure that anyone who got to close felt the trespass – physically.
All those artistes who told us that “I see your problems falling” fell when they came close to the Pentecost elder and became a problem of how to get up.
Ghanaians must pay more attention to Diana Hamilton.
Her voice won’t get her into the military but its pierce had a power to inspire a military obedience.
Handkerchiefs meant to wipe sweat for the men and maintain the make-up for the women, came out in some military solidarity as an unmoving singer belted out very moving songs.
Fixed on the stage, she moved less but everybody moved more. Her doctrine? Check. Her dress? Check. Her delivery? Check.
There was a very real reason for her powerful grip on gospel music and a gospel audience. It is because Diana is a dealer in hope, one of the last three Christian virtues left standing after all is said and done.
A Christian song must touch at least one of three virtues – faith, love, hope. If it does not, then an artiste’s best performance would only touch the microphone.
And Diana Hamilton is a dealer in hope. Her sold-out product of hope still remains this hit song, “Work in Progress.”
“I may be down but this is not where I will remain. I know whom I have believed…my beginnings may be small but I am born to again.”
Doesn’t this lyric swell inside you, some shining warmth to get up from life’s canvass?
Her feminine biceps will not tell you she lifts weights. But she does. She lifts your weight with her lyrics. And when you recall her words in 2012 at a Christmas convention in the US, “Worship is like a Christian doing press-ups,” she knows indeed that she has been lifting weights.
Eben has the miniature stature of Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams. They share a shade, a nice belly and a deep voice.
That war cry in his hit song “Victory,” had stalked us through the gospel concert. The organisers would tease some seconds of it during the commercial breaks.
Eben would win over those who did not really know much of his songs by singing our local songs you would know much of. “Aseda y3 di ma onyame” was the Nigerian’s ice-breaker and judging from the awed fans, this ice made such a noise when it broke.
It was a respectful tribute to Ghana gospel which has seen a Nigerian invasion. Eben’s songs at the moment are one of those you hear the first time and not think much of until you hear your sub-conscious playing it back to you like a beeping reminder of an alarm clock.
But in his hit song “Victory,” the buy-in as instantaneous. An elation and a readiness to jump swept through to mark his curtain-closer.
Another Adom Praiz and another Elder of the Church of Pentecost. Elder Francis Adjei in 2017, Elder Mireku in 2018 as the Pentecostal dominance in authentic Ghanaian gospel music remained unchallenged.
Mireku’s songs have zero entertainment value. And it’s too common you would not want to pay to watch him. All the odds are really against him as far as selling his music in an era of diluted Christianity.
But the odds could not make him ordinary. For he had this one odd thing about him that rather made you feel ordinary as a Christian. For patrons did not come to listen to his music. They came to watch a man and how he looks when his ways pleases the Lord.
That was why when he took the microphone, some fog of fear, even dread, hovered inside the auditorium. They feared they were about to feel convicted or convinced in the presence of a power which is really the power.
You can keep the make-up intact but guilt can crack up through your face in the convicting presence the Elder carried.
People twitched like raw blade was cutting through their flesh. Saxophonist Max Borsah played one of his songs as Mireku put the mike close to amplify the beat.
He couldn’t finish it and tumbled on the floor like he had just felt a hook Isaac Dogboe landed on his Japanese boxing opponent last week. Willie and Mike came to back him. In under a minute they needed to be backed up. The able-bodied duo were unable to stand.
Max Borsah who had now recovered from his fall, felt he stood a better chance on knees than on his feet. He now preferred crawling around to continue with his saxophone as if his two legs suddenly proved to be unreliable instruments for stability.
SP Kofi Sarpong lifted his voice and also soon found out he needed help to be lifted up. People fell off in the crowd and someone at the back let out a loud shriek.
Another came to touch his shoes. No, he came to hold onto his shoes like trophies. And radio pastor, Ato Acquah, somersaulted on the floor. His attempt to get up, proved pre-mature as he almost crashed into the instruments.
He would find out that the safest place on the stage with Eld Mireku was on the floor. And all this anointing in some way exposed all of us at of course different levels.
Judging by the utterances of some of the artistes, it appeared their Christian doctrine is not as deep as their vocal cords.
There was some tendency to offer Jesus more as an online shopping solution to some material lack. It was as if that priceless work of the remover of stubborn sin stains had some price. It was as if Jesus will not add a few zeros to people’s account, he is no hero.
Some artistes mirrored a pervasive Christian problem that you can take some nice things out of this Sodom and Gomorrah world and still make it to the mountain top without turning into a pillar of salt.
But in Elder Mireku, there was this refreshing assurance that sound Christianity has been preserved for those who would reserve their taste for godliness.
That there are depths in God if we ignore the bribe of material things, this bride will one day look radiant. That we are too content to be shallow. And if God is to finish His work in us, his demand for this nation will not be concrete buildings but consecration.