WALE OWIKOH: NIGERIAN GOSPEL MINISTER, PIANIST AND ORGANIST
Obviously, from listening to his music, you will instantly know that Wale is a master at playing the piano and the organ. But he is one who never prides himself as good with these instruments. In a Whatsapp chat, Chioma Phillips had a lively and fun-filled interview with Wale. He shares about his walk with God, walking away from home as a teenager and the journey to finding his place in God, making choices that are not common. Please read on.
Please tell us about yourself
Wale Owikoh: Wale Israel Jr. Owikoh, A Missionary, Jazz Pianist/Organist, Writer and a preacher of the Gospel. Married, blessed with four great seeds (Children). The president and chief servant at Alleluia Music Ministries Intl, HQ. Abuja.
Please tell us how you got started in music
Wale: I began playing the piano at an early age, as a child, afterwards, I joined numerous teams and choirs at different times over the years, to express and expound the gift of God within. I also built up a studio which is still open till date for recording and rehearsing purposes, which really did gave me the opportunity to discover hidden and great creative abilities shut within.
Have you always had a walk with God?
Wale: Yes…by God’s grace.
Please tell us about that journey.
Wale: I was still living with my parents and a teenager at the time going through High School. Suddenly, one morning after a few early morning house chores, I heard a voice say to me, “You will have to leave your father’s house now.” It was audible, strong and precise. I never had the premonition to do such at the time, as I was still making plans to establish myself and do quite a whole lot career wise. I can’t figure how it all played out eventually, however by the next day noon I was out of the house already, with every single bit of my tiny (hahhah) belongings. At this step, I was all of a sudden stuck as to really know where to go because all I heard was leave the house, never clear what was up next nor where to go next. So I roam a little within the city of Lagos until I got the final blow that kicked me out finally.
That’s interesting. So you ended up leaving Lagos as well?
Wale: Yes, finally. Where did the journey of obedience end up taking you? Wale: The end of the journey? (laughs) I haven’t completely begun yet and yes thus far it has been beyond calculation. I remember the many nights of hunger, cold, homelessness, abuse, rejection, multiple disappointments and now it really seems to be like none of those ever happened, as much of the strain has been cleared off. We (My Family) live in our private house now in the FCT, by His grace, we own properties here, we are running ministerial assignments side-by-side with gospel sermon publications and music reaching countless people across the globe. We are just beginning.
I’m sure that time of challenge was intended to produce much fruit in your life. What can you say you learnt and how does it sustain you now?
Wale: One major point here is KNOW THE LORD. I repeat KNOW THE LORD and every other thing is settled. God gave me the grace and is still with me to really know Him for myself, not what I heard or what someone said about Him. But He by His Holy Spirit through it all has revealed Himself to me and that fixes every bit.
You define yourself as organist/pianist. Kindly, what is the difference?
Wale: Professional musicians do understand that. This is it; the piano is quite different from the organ. Yes they are both played almost same way, just that the techniques and approach are different and thus a pianist does not necessarily know how to fully handle the organ and its mechanisms.
But you have mastered both. Are you entirely self-taught?
Wale: Mastered? (hahah) Still growing withal. I am largely Spirit taught.
I have listened to your music online, and your sound is clearly different from what you generally get in Nigeria and Afrika. Please tell us about that.
Wale: Again comes in the saying, I was built by the hand of the Creator to do these things, of which I can take no credit over neither can I explain how I arrived here in my words. Largely Spirit taught.
Did you ever get tempted to try out a style different from the one He was showing you?
Wale: Tempted to play African music?
Did you do it or we’re you able to resist?
Wale: (Laughs) Well, when we are built b God for a task everything He wants us to do just happens spontaneously because He is the bounty and power behind the gift. I surely play any other music effortlessly by His Grace. Although much of my part is tagged by a whole lot of people as completely western and American.
Ever play for international or local gospel acts?
Wale: Yes, Helen Baylor, U.S.A, River Song, U.K, e.t.c.
What was the experience like?
Wale: Fabulous! It feels great. You know that inner glow and joy when you work with like minds? It’s just heaven on earth.
There is a terrible infiltration of the gospel music scene now with the Jezebel spirit, that seems to glorify fame, money, worship songs… rather than the true walk of faith with God. What do you think?
Wale: Yes, very correct. These things must surely happen. These are the fulfillment of the scriptures and what we (those of us who have seen the LIGHT) can do is to remain spotless amidst these ills and shine as the LIGHT, regardless of the popular trend.
You are friends with my husband Samuel on Facebook so I see some of your posts. You shared recently about being invited to play at Aso Rock at a meeting of African presidents. How was that experience?
Wale: Yes. Guess what God told me after the Call?
Wale: (Laughs) look at thee. He said, “Rejoice not in these things, for in the midst of vain men who despise ME (God) you go. I have a greater place and assignment for you and a sanitizing creed for all these souls.”
Wale: I ended up not going
Wale: Yes. That’s God’s way. Not always popular.
But always necessary. I have heard you on social media talk about the strife among gospel music ministers. What really is the cause and how do we deal with it?
Wale: Yes. The beginning of this evil is the infiltration of the vanity fair doctrine, we have amidst the gospel sect and musicians today. It has brought in quite a lot of souls that are not saved, and again are not willing to be saved. So these ones go about spreading the vanity fair life and doctrines coated with an awkward lifestyle which does not depict God, but exalts self, mammon and satan. In view of these ills we need again, as I said earlier to rise as children of the Light and shine the Light as God has called us. Do not join the puppet wagon of strife for vain glory and worldly fairs but remain steadfast in the truth and unmovable.
Actually this is something I have heard you reflect on in your video messages. You seem to have a heart for righteousness in the body of Christ, is it a specific calling He gave you?
Wale: By His (God’s) grace, I am called to raise Kingdom Generals and disciple men with an exceptional and keen passion for God’s Holy design. I have that as a specific assignment, incorporated into my music ministry.
Meaning through your music or through both your music and maybe training others in music?
Wale: Very well via music and not just that. By God’s grace we hold discipleship meetings here in the FCT, Nigeria and across borders, from time to time, to ignite and encourage leaders – men and women – in the work of the kingdom and to make sure many are not falling off the path of Light.
Encouragement is needed now. What do you think about the state of Africa?
Wale: A great place full of life and strength BUT men of wicked and ill spirit are dicing the state around.
What must we do?
Wale: Take a stand for what God originally designed you to be, wait on the Lord and receive Ideas that will spark the Light in as many as possible on your path, press on to herald the plan of God for your Country, Community and the World.
Any concluding words for Africa, her leaders, her people?
Wale: Finally my beloved friends and family, Nations and Kindreds, seek ye the LORD GOD who reigns above all, LET JESUS CHRIST in thy soul dwell. And all shall be well.
Amen. Any words for your fellow music ministers in Africa?
Wale: Same. Stay focused on your calling, stay sanitized, stay connected to Christ.