Believe in yourself and don’t allow anybody to discourge you in whatever you want to do or aspire in life. Gospel singer, Hope David says that when she was in secondary school, her Music Director told her that she could not sing but because she was determined and focused, she was able to prove her wrong and she sent her one of her CDs to listen to when she released one of her albums.
Hope David is a native of Igala from Kogi state and she is the CEO of Hope Studios where she has produced the songs of notable singers in the country like PSquare, Timaya, 9ice, Sammy Okposo among others. She has been in the music industry for 25 years, and she was in the defunct Light Bearers, a gospel band that made waves in the country in then. She had her first tour in 1988 when she travelled with the band to Canada and thereafter to other countries.
The gospel singer revealed that she started singing at the age of 6, when her friends and family members would usually come to her that she should sing for them because they knew that she could sing by imitating her parents durin g family devotion.
In this interview with Daily Sun, Hope David speaks on her kind of music, inspiration, the death of Christy Essien Igbokwe, why she would not quit gospel music and her advise to upcoming artistes among others.
My name is Hope David but I am popularly known as Hope Davis by my fans. I am married to Pastor Michael David and we are blessed with two sons, I am the Chief Executive Officer of Hope Studios located in Ikeja. I am a gospel singer and a native of Igala from Kogi State. My parents gave birth to 12 children with two sets of twins and I am the last child of the second set of twins. My twin sister’s name is Charity and she resides in Abuja.
The genesis of my singing
When I was six years old, my siblings and their friends played in the garden, they would usually tell me, please can you sing for us? And I would tell them why can’t you sing for yourselves and they responded by saying, there is a way that I sing by imitating my parents during morning and evening devotions and that is why they wanted me to sing for them. I would reluctantly sing for them but after two days, they would come back to me again and tell me that I should sing for them again.
It was fun growing because we all went to school together and we played pranks but we were good and obedient children. My father was a rich businessman and we lived in a good neigbourhood and had everything that we needed for ourselves as children. Although, I left my parents at an early age because had to move to Kano state where I lived with one of my sisters.
Did your parents support you in your musical career?
Before my parents died, I had not become a renowned artiste but they knew that I could sing but I never had an album. Because they loved singing and I still sing some of the songs that they loved to sing then. History has it that my grandfather of Fulani decent was also a musician, so they were not against it. I am from a singing family and they supported me.
Do you start singing from your mother’s womb?
No, nothing like that! One thing that I know is that when I see some children crying, I would say that the child should not worry because he/she is developing his/her vocal chords. People believe that crying children could sing because it strengthens their vocal chords. I remember vividly one of my aunty of blessed memory, when she saw me singing and crying one day, she said to my parents, please can you come and take your crying singing baby here! I don’t know how you could be crying and singing in a mood swing like this.
Also one thing shocked me, my second son, I never saw him singing but I was suprised when he did a song on Youtube and it made me know that he can sing and it is in the blood. I believe that if you got it, you got it but not like singing from the womb, you still need to develop your skills in singing.
Would you encourage your children to go singing as a profession?
Well after going to school as I did, I would encourage them to go into singing. I would encourage them to go to school first and get their certificates then they can come and go into singing and have something to fall on. If their are not satisfied with their secular job then they can go ino singing.
Do you have any passion for singing?
I think it is an in-born thing. It is innate. It was what I liked doing. Right from when I was a kid, when I am in the kitchen, I would put music on the sink and be singing and washing plates at the same time. Also as a kid, I had played the former national anthem during school programmes and other programmes. I decided then that as a kid, I am going to be a gospel singer. There was not a lot of mentorship then at that time, maybe the late Nelly Uchendu, and Christy Essien Igbokwe, Onyeka Owenu, unlike now, so it took us a long time for us to be well known. Now there are so many avenues through which an artiste can explore his/her potentials like Youtube, internet and other medium which helps you to achieve your aim. I have performed in a lot of places like churches both within and outside the country. I have also performed at the Calabar Carnival, the recent inauguration of Governor Rotimi Amaechi in Rivers State, The National Stadium, Covenant University and a number of places.
Kind of music
From my background, I can’t really say that I do Raggae, Hip-hop but I am a praise and worship leader which was my background. I sing basically everything. When I see the congregation not responding to one song, I try to sing another song and I see that I am not moving the congregation/audience, I keep singing various songs until I am able to get the people into God’s presence through my songs. Probably, because I gave my life to God at a very early age, so I take it as a ministry or excitement. I also take it as something that I know that God is happy with.
What makes me different from other gospel artistes?
I think it is the delivery. I make sure that anywhere that I go to perform I deliver, I am able to deliver my music effectively to the people. I make sure that people leave the venue with a part of me in them for a long while. Whether people come to a gathering and they don’t want to praise God and when I start singing, they are compelled to sing and raise God too. When people don’t want to praise God and when I get to there sing, I would pray silently and ask the Holy Spirit to lead and direct me and after a while, the audience would respond to the music. I also bring some form of humour into my songs and it catches the attention of the audience/congragation.
Can you mention some of the albums that you have released?
I have six albums to my credit. Some of my albums include; Thank You Jesus (1996). I was the first Nigerian to record Makossa and I had to get Makossa singers to play the songs for me, which still sells up till now. I also have Jesus Na Super and Praise God which I never released in Nigeria but outside the shores of Nigeria.
One thing is that there is music for now and that is why you would see that some songs transcends while others do not. There are songs that are there and it has to be there like Old School music. For example, why is it that so many songs that were released some many ago, how many of them is still relevant today? Some songs come to do what they are supposed to do and they fade out while some stay. And if you try to force some songs, it won’t work. Another track is God Can do, a 7 track album. E do am. There is also the praise and worship companion and when people wake up in the morning and they don’t feel like praising God, when they listen to the song, they will be compelled to praise God.
Can you tell us your idea about gospel music in Nigeria?
Now the market for music is open unlike in those days. Gospel music is a kind of music that gives people hope for life. With the economic situation in the country, some people get into their car and they don’t really know where they are going or where the next meal would come from. What such people need to do is that put that gospel music on which is a music of hope. Gospel music is always and it is always in demand except if it doesn’t have life in it.
Who are your role models?
My role models are Rosemary Chuwkwu, Chinyere Udoma and Ruth Ani, Shirley Ceasar, Helen Baylor etc I love all female gospel artistes because their music is energetic which is similar to what I do. Another reason is because they sing contra-alto i.e women that sing deep which is similar to what I sing..
What would say is your greatest assest?
My greatest assets is my energy and my voice. Now that you have interacted with me, if you leave this environment and hear when I speak elsewhere, you would know that I am the one. My uniqueness and my energy when I am on stage, all the energy that I have praising God is everything that I have.
Are you thinking of quitting music?
I will never quit music. If you work in the civil service or in the banking sector, you can say that you want to quit your profession someday. I can’t quit music because it is a ministry and a mandate. I have to keep people’s hope alive. I can only quit music when I quit into the grave.
What is the source of your inspiration?
The Holy Spirit is the source of my inspiration and Jesus Christ, my Saviour, Lord and Redeemer.
Who else can I worship?
Like Jesus is my unending song which I play everyday. One day, I was at Oshodi bus stop one day and the various activities going on at that bus stop made me sing Jesus is my ending song. When all around me is noisy of economic down turn and everything, in all Jesus is my unending song. I recently wrote a song defeat, anger, depression, sickness is no longer for me, but Jesus is my unending song. Everything happens to give people hope.
Do you get feedback from people
Of course! People call me and infact, I don’t sleep with my phone at night because they call to tell me that they love my songs. Sometimes, they tell me that they are watching my songs on television now. I give glory to God and when we stand to perform, we can’t take the glory and we must not allow the flesh or pride to come over us, when we do that God will begin to promote us. God gives grace to the humbled and I always humbled when they tell me that they like my music and I praise the name of the Lord for it. Nothing goes back to me but to God.