Tribute to Tope Alabi at 50: How the gospel music industry never recovered from ‘Ore ti o common’

Nigerian Gospel musician and icon, Tope Alabi, is unarguably one of the greatest to grace the Nigeria gospel music scene and the occasion of her golden jubilee is deserving of all the applause that has been thrown her way.

Before the breaking onto the music scene with her debut record, ‘Ore ti o common’, in 2001, the only towering name in the business of gospel music was Bola Are. And, up till the emergence of Tope Alabi, many were sceptical about who would take the baton from the veteran Bola Are who was the sole reference point for Nigerian gospel music.

However, in under five years, during which Tope Alabi followed up her maiden album with works such as ‘Iwe eri’, ‘Agbara re ni’, ‘Agbara orun’, ‘Angeli mi’, nobody needed any convincing that the singer who was nicknamed after her debut album, ‘Ore ti o common’, was the next big thing and could even establish herself as the GOAT (greatest of all time) of gospel music.

Every track and album that followed the debut album has met with resounding reception from her ever-growing fan base which at that point had already transcended the Christian religion. People from other faith regularly confessed to being inspired by her songs. And the linguistic prowess of the Lagos-born artiste was recently underlined at a competition by United Bank for Africa (UBA), and she was subsequently crowned queen of Yoruba on Twitterverse.

Like many success stories, Tope Alabi has had her down moments. The one which rocked her career the most was the demise of her long time spiritual father, Prophet Elijah Ajanaku, who was alleged to be occult.

Being the antithesis of Christianity, many thought it would spell the end of her career. There were even opinions that she had been deliberately fetish all along but she proved that it was only a blip in her career.

After withdrawing from music and limelight for a while, the mass communication graduate of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, bounced back with ‘Oruko tuntun’, which literally means ‘a new name’ to give her career a fresh breath. And she hasn’t looked back ever since. 

Even when critics felt she could only flow in Yoruba, she produced English tracks and has featured at the annual The Experience gospel concert. 

With a career spanning two decades, Tope Alabi is rightly the greatest gospel musician of her generation and one would imagine her dancing to one of her most popular songs, ‘Igba ti mo ro’, for her birthday celebration.

Cheers to the Queen of Gospel Music!

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