Abbey Owokoya also known as “abbey cheche” is an exceptional saxophonist. He has made a name through his dynamic and anointed performance abroad , he is set to take over the Nigeria music scene as well. His singles ” No one” is ruling the airwaves and he is gradually warming the heart of music lovers with his talent.
In this interview, he told us how the journey began from circular music to gospel music.
How did you get your stage name “abbey cheche”
When I used to play afrobeat, there is this instrument we call maracas, it makes cheche sound. I love that sound so much that people started calling me cheche ,so, i decided to adopt that name as my stage name .There is something about that instrument, it is never heard in a place of mourning, it can only be found where there is joy. So, the interpretation of cheche simply means sound of joy. That is how I came about my name.
How long have you been into music?
Twenty years now, it started at Ojuelegba in a church, Prayer Link Evangelical Ministry.
So why the choice of gospel music?
I used to play circular music. I have played with the likes of Femi Kuti, Keji Hamilton, Dbanj,Oriz Winiki, later, I discovered gospel is where I belong, gospel is where God wants me to be. It is not as if I cannot play circular music again though, when performing at weddings, I still play circular music, I am a versatile artist.
Tell us where you learnt to play the saxophone?
I started at Prayer Link Evangelical Ministry as well. To the glory of God, it has taken me round the world. Next summer by God’s grace, i am going for my Europe tour . I got some calls from the UK, France and Ireland, to the glory of God, it is going to be good.
Can you compared being a circular artist to being a gospel artist?
There are things you don’t do when you play gospel music. You don’t smoke, drink, womanise, you have to live a godly life, seek the presence of God for anointing when you go to minister, the presence and the anointing of God must be present so that lives can be blessed. You must have it at the back of your mind that you are doing the work of God, the holy spirit must guide you. I can remember when I was with Femi Kuti, we were surrounded by people who smoke and drink, I didn’t do such then becauseI am a converted Christian.
How long were you with him?
I was with him for two years, I was also with Dbanj for about four years.
Do you see a collaboration between you and any one of them?
Yes, I see it coming, there is nothing impossible. It might be through that they would be saved. I can remember Ebenezer Obey, he came from circular to gospel. I see myself doing a collabo with a circular artist.
You have a new single out, tell us about it?
It is titled “No One” it is a common song every body knows, very fantastic music, high quality, high definition video, it is a song people can easily relate with. Music must cut across a number of audiences, they should be able to feel the music and relate with it. It is filled with the anointing, I know it will certainly bless lives out there.
I featured two of my colleagues in it, Emmanuel Patrick known as ETG(Emmanuel the Great), Mayowa ponlongo is also there, it was produced by Olaitan Adebowale, the video was edited by Righteous man. The audio was mastered and mixed by Dayo Afolabi.
How is life as a saxophonist?
Life is good, you have to understand your gift, I appreciate God for this gift, being a saxophonist is what I love doing, it is the easiest thing I can do . I don’t need a full band to do it, it comes easy for me. I went to a church to perform sometimes back and there was no keyboard, the drum set was also not so good, yet the people danced to the glory of God. I don’t need a full band to play, that is what distinguishes a professional, the ability to hold their own when a full band is not around.
Do you think saxophonists have an edge over singers?
I wouldn’t say one is superior to the other. You just have to identify your gift. I live in the United States, I play for Jamaicans, I deal with people who are not Africans, you just have to relate with them, you have to play popular and common music so they can enjoy it. You have to learn and practice so you can master what other people want. Another thing is that,music is not about you playing but about other people listening to you. I wouldn’t say Singers are superior than us or that we are superior to them. We are both on the same platform.
Who do you admire their work among other gospel artist?
I am anticipating working with Mike Aremu, he is like the boss we were looking up to then before I became a saxophonist. Thank God we are also holding our own here. There is a concert I hold every year in the U.S, I am bringing it to Nigeria next year by God’s grace. It is known as ” sounds of joy”, we are having one by Dec 28 later in the year. I am anticipating featuring Mike Aremu, we would do a number together on stage. I also hope to work with Sinach, I have done a lot with Sunny Badu, he is an African artist.
What brings you to Nigeria?
I am here to unveil Abbey Cheche and what God has given me. A lot of people are blessed under my ministration abroad, why can’t I bring it to Nigeria. People should check my website www.abbeycheche.com. I am also on Instragram, Facebook as abbeycheche.