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Martin Hayford knew from the onset that he wanted to move hearts, souls and bodies with his maiden gospel album so apart from the uplifting vocals on the work, he also brought on board some very experienced instrumentalists to add more flavour to the songs.
The result is the well-produced 12-track debut collection called Awurade Bohye (Godâ€™s Promise).
Unlike some of us who would give up at the slightest obstacle, Martin never lost hope that God was capable of making his long wait to join the gospel train worthwhile.
â€œIt was quite a struggle getting started and managing to move on to this stage,â€ Martin said. â€œDespite the challenges, I was filled with the assurance that God would fulfil his promises.â€
The set time has definitely arrived for Martin and his album is filled with songs meant to encourage and give hope to anyone going through any form of crisis.
The title track is already generating some attention with a video already showing on television. â€œEven though the opportunity I had been looking for was yet to come, I knew it would definitely come. I was sustained with the words in Genesis: 28 verse 15 which says that God will not forsake us until he has fulfilled his promises.â€
Awurade Bohye features Mama Cynthia of Daughters of Glorious Jesus fame. Her powerful voice combines effectively with Martinâ€™s to make the song a must -listen- to.
Awurade Bohye tells us that when Godâ€™s appointed time comes, it does not matter who you are, what you have done or what you are going through, He will still fulfil his word.
The song boldly speaks to the lives of barren woman, the unemployed, the convict, the sick and anyone who may be losing hope with its encouraging references to other people in the Bible who went through similar situations.
Martin says that he is grateful to recording engineer, Nacy, who shared in parts of the vocals and also played keyboards on some songs, and all the other instrumentalists on the project.
Himself a trumpeter who has played with the then National Theatre-based Vision Band, Daughters of Glorious Jesus and No Tribe, Martin stayed away from his instrument throughout the recording of the album to enable him concentrate on vocals and the general shaping up of the project.
Musicians like Macky Flash on electric bass, trombonist Ayitey Appiah, guitarist Ackablay, trumpeter Osei Tutu, saxophonist Steve Mensah and keyboardist Ato Scott â€˜Redcapâ€™ Bennin, as well as backing singer Yvonne â€˜Sheeâ€™ Ohene- Djan all bring their own styles of embellishment to the various songs on the album.
The album is full of inspiring songs which include Ebedu Woso on which Martin sings that whatever our problems are, God is able to overcome them so we should stop worrying, be patient and wait on Him.
On Nokonoko Be, which is done in Ga, he affirms that there is nothing that God cannot do, so we should bring our burdens before Him and He would give us rest.
It seems Martinâ€™s strongest area as a gospel artiste, is in praise and worship. One can really feel the quality and range of his voice on some of the songs. One of them is Yesu Ayikoo, which is a remake of a popular praise song.
It is done in the slow vein and Martin passionately gives praise that the blood of Jesus has enabled him to be who he is. Other songs on the album are Wonni Haw, Danaase, Onyame Fata, Ao Bra, Mâ€™egya and Ayeyi Nkoara. Some of them are, however, too long and Martin should check that issue on future albums.
He started singing around the age of 10 and like a lot of other gospel artistes, it was in church. He joined the school choir at St Augustineâ€™s College and played the trumpet for various churches while he schooled at the Cape Coast Polytechnic where he studied Marketing.
Since then itâ€™s been nothing but music for him, busy playing the trumpet for a lot of artistes. Martin says he is grateful to Messrs Michael Owusu Anderson, Benjamin Ato Simpson and James Scott Benin for all their encouragement and support.