Fabiyi Temitope Monique is one of Nigeria’s gifted and talented female gospel artistes. She is a singer and songwriter. She spoke to Daily Trust Saturday on a number of issues.
Why did you decide to become a gospel musician?
I did not choose to become a gospel musician. I would say that the gospel music chose me. I discovered at a very early age that I am talented and being a church girl, I automatically tilted towards that side. But, when I started getting into my teens, I discovered other genre of music and I was interested in inspirational music and love songs.
In 1999, I received a calling and knew from there that it is gospel music or nothing. Since then, it has been gospel music. It is not something that I woke up one day and decided to do.
What do you mean when you say you had a calling?
I was born into a Christian home. Like every other Christian, I know about the gospel of Christ, I know the Bible and the things of God but when I got to the teenage stage, I was faced with some circumstances which made me know that it was not from man but from God.
What were those circumstances you faced at the time?
I will not want to share it because I have moved past it. I don’t like to visit that period of my life but I know that it was a trying time God brought me out of. It made me know that this is a calling unto service.
Let me just share that I would not have been alive today if not for God. It was a huge situation for me at that age to face that kind of battle and come out of it successfully. I decided that for the rest of my life, it has to be God and Him alone. That is the calling for me.
Some people feel that gospel music is not lucrative. You have been in the industry since you were six years old. What is your thought on that?
I was called to service so I was not looking at the angle of gospel music being lucrative or its profits and gain. I just want to serve. I believe that God spared my life for a reason so I am living the purpose and that is fulfilling for me. I don’t know about the lucrativeness.
One thing I have known which is in the scripture is the word that says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and every other thing will be added unto you”. If you are truly following Christ and doing it for the purpose of winning souls, you cannot lack anything.
Most of us know what we want and what we need. Sometimes, we leave what we need and go for what we want. That is when people become uncontented with what they have. I am contented with what God has blessed me with and I am moving with it so it is not about the money.
You are the last of ten children. How did your parents react when you told them about chasing a career in music?
My parents are very considerate. My father is very strict but as the last of the family of ten (I have six brothers), I am closer to my brothers than my sisters. Literally, I am a tomboy but you would only know if you are close to me. I was not raised by my sisters but by my brothers and we are all close.
I thank God for the blessings of my brothers because maybe I would not be the Monique of today but be a random simple girl who would not fulfil her purpose in life. I was threatened by their discipline and all of their correction.
My father already had this mindset that as the last born, my mother should take over. Meanwhile, my mother was already my best friend so anything I wanted to do she would allow me but I had to promise her that I would not be wayward. So, when I started singing, I would go for all night rehearsal. I would be in a church, although she would be worried but she would be praying for me.
One day, I saw the poster for a talent hunt, I competed and won. It went viral and everyone knew me on my street. I became a local champion. That added to the acceptance of my parent to allow me do music because they realised I knew what I was doing.
What were some challenges you faced building your career?
God made plans for me, so I cannot say that there is a difficult part. I know what I was going into and I also realised that venturing into gospel music is not business. It is service.
If you serve truthfully with all of your heart, you will enjoy what you are doing and be fulfilled. I knew from time that I was coming to win souls. It was easy for me because every song I have released has been a hit. I can easily walk up to someone and evangelise because the story of where I am coming from and how far God has brought me is enough message to preach to anyone.
The only challenging time would have been when I was a nursing mother. I was a young mother travelling around the country. For me, it is always family first so I had to think about where to put my children. God bless my mother; it was either she came to my house or I took the kids to hers. It was not that challenging and as the last born, my mother loved the arrangement because we had already been best friends. It has been a smooth journey.