Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My favorite 10 African gospel songs

Aside the praise and worship that comes from gospel music, this genre uplifts spirits and encourages people to do better. I have not been a regular to church and having music like this keeps me renewed and thoughtful of what is expected of me as a Christian. It helps make sure I don't do the religious thing on Sunday only. When I say I am too blessed to be stressed, these are the kind of songs that provide the soundtrack. Which other genre should come first as I switch from regions to genres in my ongoing lists of African music? In this African gospel song list, I will leave out Ghanaian songs, will list my favorite gospel songs from Ghana later.

Before that, you have to check out my 10 favorite songs from Kenya, 10 favorite songs from South Africa, my 10 favorite Nigerian songs and 10 African songs I think you should know about. Hope you discover your next favorite morning song or find a new jam for your church's next "Kofi and Ama" collection. Click the songs to find the lyrics, video, audio, etc.

Life & Death - Lulu Dikana
Lulu's sister Zonke is a more popular South African singer but Lulu may out-do her this year with this beautiful song. The song has a contemporary feel and you may not even realise it has a gospel message. It's been doing well in various charts in South Africa too. "Oh what kind of love is this; It's so unusual to me; That a friend can give his own life; For another...and another...and another...; It is by far the greatest sacrifice known to man". It's one of the most played songs on my iPod.

Igwe - Midnight Crew
You've seen how people get down on Sunday at church? This is a perfect song to aid those dances. This is by far the best African gospel party song I've heard in awhile. I've been caught singing it aloud while listening to my iPod countless times. The song is in Igbo and English and with the proliferation of Igbo words into the Ghanaian scene through Nollywood, it's easy to grasp and sing along. "Kosobabire;
Kosi Baba bire; Ko ma s'olorun bire; (Igwe)"

Nishikilie - Kambua
This is another song I have to play two/three times before I move on to another. My Kiswahili is okay but it's not enough to understand the whole song. Kambua is a student of music, studying at Berklee, amongst others.

Never felt this way before - Nikki Laoye
When I first heard this song, it sounded like gospel from the US. Nikki is a great singer and she was nominated for a Kora award. In fact, she may be the best Nigerian female vocalist I've heard recently. This is the only single I've heard from her and I can't wait to hear something new. Loved the video too. "Playing like my favorite song; I wanna hear you all day long; My number one; You are second to none".

Ezali mawa - Makoma
I used to see Makoma come up in Google searches when I was searching for m'akoma (my heart n Twi). A lot of related searches led to Museke.com too. Makoma is probably the best African gospel group ever. They are versatile and entertaining. They are based in Holland and have been able to promote themselves all over Africa and Europe. Their ring-leader, Nathalie, participated in Dutch Idol and did really well. This Ezali mawa song is my favorite. Who knew Congolese people excelled at gospel music too? I don't understand jack in Lingala so it's helpful when one of the Makomas sings "I’m gonna sing about life; Life is so beautiful; To live and to believe".

Je lève les yeux - Constance Aman
I only heard about this Ivorien singer this year and I must say, I'd been missing out. Listening to this song, I have to sum it up in two words - belle chanson! How I wish I had paid more attention in French class! Well, I did and I topped my French class, it's just that it was 11 years ago. At least I understand this part - "Il est mon Dieu" (He is my God)

Only praise - Infinity
Olori oko impressed when it came out but my favorite song from this Nigerian male gospel group is Only praise. Love the lyrics, especially that 'Jabulani Africa' part. "This music is more than the melody; It's more than the rhymes; It's an expression of a sound from heaven; Did I hear you say, a sound from heaven". When non-Christian are appreciating this song, you know that you've scored. You should check out more stuff from this group, they are awesome. "Only praise can take you higher". Praise can lift you out of times when you are down even if it sounds contradictory.

God dey - Ebenezer
Singing in Pidgin English is one of the major reasons Nigerian music is where it is today. Ebenezer is making use of the language to make a name for himself on the gospel scene. Love this song to bits. "Tell them say God dey; Tell them say Baba dey; Tell them say God dey; And He no dey sleep o". God is not sleeping ampa and He shall hear your prayers.

Kuna dawa - Esther Wahome
This is another tune that will get you off your feet. Church jam all the way from Kenya. I forget how and when I heard this song for the first time but I do remember using it as a song when we staged (Uncle) Wole Soyinka Jero's Metamorphosis at MIT (African Students' Association). The song talks about 'there is medicine' (yay for my Swahili), as in there is a cure or medicine for whatever your problem or sickness is. "Kuna dawaaaaaa"

Hlohonolofatsa - Soweto Gospel Choir
It's no secret South African singers are the best in Africa, when you take numbers into consideration. You shuld expect their choirs to reign too. SGC doesn't sing a whole lot of lines in this 'Hlohonolofatsa' song from their African Spirit album but it's more than enough. Seeing them do the song in person was fantastic.

These are the first 10 songs that came to mind. If I remember one injustice that I missed, I will comment about it. Just like last time, I want to list a few honorable mentions. My favorite African gospel song presently is Rooftop MC's For my life. Nigeria's Toyin Bello is famous for her Green land track but my favorite is this Kora-nominated song called Freedom.
Jeremiah Gyang's Sweet love and It won't end (Nigeria). Rebecca Malope is probably Africa's biggest gospel superstar and I love her track Uyingcwele track (South Africa).

I am a fan of Jonathan Butler's stuff (South Africa) and how could I forget the famous Pastor Benjamin Dube with songs like I feel like going on and Bless the Lord. Noelie from Togo is another great musician, love Be my Lord. Also check out Jahdiel's Eloheeka, and Heritage from Nigeria. There's also Resonance with songs like Chinwe Ike and then Umeniweza by Eunice Njeri. And there are the countless songs I love from South Africa's Joyous Celebration and then Soweto Gospel Choir. I also love Astar (Kenya) for his gospel rap music as well as Rose Muhando from Tanzania.

If you have some African gospel songs I should know and check out, let me know too.
We are to praise and worship God in many tongues and languages, hope this gets you going.

Long live African gospel music.
Long live African music.
Long live Africa.
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