All hell broke loose in the studios of Peace FM, Saturday, when entertainment journalist Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo clashed with OB Nartey, a pastor and gospel singer who has been in the news in recent times for kicking against collaborations between gospel and secular musicians.
The two personalities in their quest to solidify their arguments on the subject unleashed venom on each other, leaving the host, Kwasi Aboagye, with no option but to take them off air for a while for sanity to prevail.
As monitored by GhanaWeb, OB Nartey had argued that it was improper for a song to be labeled ‘gospel’ if it features a secular musician. His argument is on the premise that “gospel is sacred” hence, the input of musicians who do not belong to the fraternity on a song owned by a gospel musician cannot be termed 'gospel' even if the lyrics suggest so.
“I don’t mind if Joe Mettle does a peace song with Stonebwoy. It is for the peace of Ghana. But it shouldn’t be that Joe Mettle will feature Stonebwoy on a song and they want to address it as a gospel song,” OB Nartey said. “We can’t say Celestine Donkor’s song is gospel when she has featured Efya, a secular musician on it.
“Gospel music is about the song i.e. the lyrics, it’s about the personality and it’s about the spirit behind it. You cannot serve two masters, you cannot mix them up. I’m not saying we cannot be friends but when it comes to music, we are propagating a certain message and it must not be diluted with the brands and identities.”
Although Arnold reckoned OB Nartey’s stance is not anything new, he could not fathom the line of argument. For him, the tangent was immature and confusing.
“If you’ve followed this industry for a very long time and say a collaboration between a gospel artiste and a secular artiste will be wholeheartedly accepted, then you’re lying to yourself. Interestingly, this reaction is not limited to only Ghana. It is worse in the US,” Arnold said, citing Kirk Franklin’s collaborations with some secular artistes.
He continued: “During OB’s submission, he said you can’t serve two masters. So I was scratching my head and asking who are these two masters? They are God and Satan so it means secular musicians are of Satan. That is nonsense. That is implicitly nonsense.”
Arnold, touted as the best entertainment analyst in the country at the moment, established that some gospel songs that have made a profound impact are composed, produced, marketed, and distributed by persons considered as secular, hence, it is unacceptable for OB Nartey to make a pronouncement or suggest that such persons are of the devil.
“We are shortsighted to the extent that when we talk about collaboration, we only see two artiste collaborating on a song and forget that from songwriting to production, it is done by a secular personality like Akwaboah, Kaywa, Kwabena Kwabena. Are these Hindus? Which master are they serving?” he asked.
“The Executive Producer who will market and distribute what you term quintessential gospel is secular. Which of these masters do the radio presenters who give your songs airplay serve? The platform, the event organizer serve which master? So the issue about serving two masters is bogus. How you see Efya is how you judge her but they forget that those who claim to be gospel have worse characters.”
An uncomfortable OB Nartey at this point interjected and said “We are not the standard so make a cogent argument. You’re opening up the argument talking about platforms and others but this is not what we are talking about. Your argument is flawed. You’re not making sense.”
OB Nartey’s interruption was not taken lightly by Arnold.
“Shut the hell up!” Arnold fumed, with OB Nartey retorting “You too shut the hell up”.
OB Nartey while throwing jabs reiterated that Arnold was “opening up the argument” and ought to be told to make a sensible argument.
“I didn’t speak when you were speaking. You’re not correct. Shut up. Are you the one to tell me the terms of argument?” Arnold clapped back. “You’re being stupidly loud. You shouldn’t have come here with your stupidity. Ghanaians are insulting you because you’re an ignoramus and unwise.”
Arnold, however, apologised to the listeners at the tail end of the show for the words he used on radio.
In the last couple of years, some secular musicians have written songs for gospel artistes, GhanaWeb has taken notice. Akwaboah for instance composed Ayeyi Ndwom for SP Kofi Sarpong. There have been some collaborations between gospel and secular musicians which became popular and earned nominations at various award schemes. They include ‘Kano Seyaa’ (Herty Bongreat ft Trigmatic), ‘Bebree’ (Herty Bongreat ft Sarkodie), ‘Odo Yi Wo Hen?’ (Lady Prempeh ft. Asem), ‘Boys Boys’ (Nacee ft Guru).
It is imperative to mention that these features triggered conversations about gospel-secular musicians' collaborations. The subject has been reignited after gospel musician Celestine Donkor featured Efya and Akwaboah on her ‘Yeda Wase’.
Listen to what ensued between Arnold and OB Nartey below. The conversation starts from 1 hour, 53 minutes.