Stella Dugan (Ghana’s Gospel Diva )
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FOR someone like Stella Dugan who doesn’t have a hobby, it doesn’t come as a surprise at all that all her energies are geared towards her work as a professional musician.
And so it turns out that in the 12 years that she’s been into music, Stella Ahenewa Dugan (nee Seal) has churned out nine soul - inspiring and uplifting albums.
Incidentally, Stella’s first love as a child was to become a nurse and not a musician
“I love to sing very much even as a kid but I didn’t know I’ll end up in music.
“My dream was to become a nurse even though I was scared of blood. As for music, I stumbled on it and when I realised that I was cut for that, I run with it till now. “I guess it is God’s plan for me to become a musician because the Bible says that ‘when we were yet a clot of blood, God already knew what He was going to do with us’ and so I thank God for His direction.” Stella trained as a secretary at the Accra Polytechnic after her GCE ‘O’ level in 1981 at the City Secondary and Business College at Caprice in Accra, which she used four years to complete. “After Accra Poly, I went to a dressmaking school at the former Singer Sewing Company, now known as Kalbs, where I learnt how to sew. “I had the desire to work at the bank this time so I started pursuing that ambition but it was not to be so instead, I went to the Ghana Airways Training School where I passed out with AITA’s Basic Certificate in passenger handling, sales and reservation. “All this time, I was still singing in the church — at the Ghana Evangelical Society (GES) in Accra together with a Janet Asomani, now Mrs Hughes. “I was with the GES for five years and then joined the Christian Action Faith Ministries (CAFM) for another five years before I decided to record an album.” Stella, who said she became a Christian in 1979 in secondary school through one Cornelius Adjah-Cofie, the then school prefect of her school, indicated that in 1990, with the knowledge that she was a Christian with the responsibility to pull others to God, she decided to do that through her God-given talent which is singing. “I recorded my first all-English album titled You’re In My Heart, in 1990 but it didn’t do well because I think at the time it did not catch on with people who didn’t understand why I chose to sing in English instead of the local dialect. “But my motive at the time was to reach out to the people and not to show how well I could sing English songs actually,” Stella explained. According to her, she retrieved all the cassettes and compact discs (CDs) from the market even though she had actually put a lot of resources into that project. “The following year, I recorded my second album — Daadaa Nyinara which was a huge success. In fact, to the general public, that was my debut album but it was actually my second. “The album was so successful and apart from the financial gains, it also won the then Entertainment Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana (ECRAG) award for Best Gospel Album of the Year. “I used part of the profit from this album to offset some of the debts I incurred in my first project.” But even before she recorded, Stella had been adjudged the Singer of the Year by Rex Image Associates then an entertainment outfit. She also carried the Distinguished Female Personality and Inspirational Voice of the Year Awards in her stride, all pointing to Stella’s versatility in the music field. To date, her albums include Ahenmanmu, Okura Yeemu, Ontonko with the hit song Gyem Taataa and King of Kings, another English album she recorded for Sterns Records in the United Kingdom. Her current album is Oye Onyame which again brings to the fore Stella’s pedigree as a musician. According to Stella, people like Yaw Sarpong, Kwesi Dickson Junior, and Michael Asenso, to mention but a few, have written songs for her which she has performed. Asked if she has any regret not becoming a nurse, Stella said no. “I’ve really enjoyed being in the music industry and I have no regrets whatsoever. “As frail and imperfect as I am, I’m encouraged and spurred on by the fact that I’ve been a channel of blessing for many people,” she revealed. Now on John Mensah Sarpong (JMS) label, Stella said she admires musician Mary Ghansah a lot because of her tenacity in music. “I’ve been involved in music myself so I know what it takes and how difficult it is to stay in the music industry. You see, it’s not just the beauty of her voice alone but her spirit as well which really draws people to God. I pray that her labour will not be in vain and that God, through her, will raise up young ones to take over from her. Stella, who likes to stay indoors if she has no business outside her home, enjoys unripe (green) plantain and kontomire abomu. In fact she had eaten it the day she spoke to this reporter, two days before and the previous day and was planning to eat it the following day as well. Stella, the second of four siblings, was born to Madam Violet Addo from Anum Boso in the Eastern Region and Mr Theophilus Seal, (deceased) who was half British and half Camerounian. She started her primary education at the New Town 4 School and continued at the Kotobabi 2 Middle School.
Stella has three kids — Ruth — 10, Michael — 7 and Seth — 5, who, she says, are very dear to her heart.
She has also undertaken a number of tours outside the country including a tour which took her to London, Germany and Canada.