Frank Edwards will be my guest at the GOD OF HEAVEN Musical Xperience on Sunday, the 19th of November, 2017 at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotels, Abuja at 3pm. So many things make Frank Edwards to occupy a unique position at the top of the gospel music value chain in Nigeria and increasingly across the world. I outline the following attributes as unique to his competitive positioning:
His musical form
Frank popularised the fusion and synthesis of indigenous language forms in profound and arcane music that could have a listening ear on the steps of the Bronx in New York and at the back of the Bus in Orile in Lagos, and even moreso, in the lush cassava farmyard in Enugu. In essence, his creative synthesis of modern music with indigenous tongues provokes this psychological affiliation of the senses. He did this with “You too dey bless me”, “Oghenedoh”, “Nma Nma” and other songs and yet the structure, theme, and rhythm of these songs are essentially western, thus having a cross-sectional appeal rarely found in most songs. This his innovation has been copied and replicated ever since by many artistes, yet none does it so well like he does.
His Investment of time and resources
Listening to Frank’s keyboard skills, it’s easy to pick up that he has invested a lot of time practicing on the keyboard. The way he picks up his arpeggios or his staccato notes, or his triplets depicts a well-practiced musical mind that coordinates with his fingers seamlessly. Much of his competency does not lie in his vocal skills, but in his instrumental musicianship. Very few gospel musicians can conveniently combine vocal and instrumental expertise. Frank and Nathaniel Bassey are at the top of the list in Nigeria. Why does Frank write very good music? He has very good instrumental music skills and this is a core asset for composition. The way chords and single notes are combined symmetrically on the keyboard scores make it easy for a keyboardist to write profound music and when they are gifted like Frank, then nothing is impossible. Frank has invested on musical equipment beyond most musicians. He has also spent a lot of time getting proficient at using these tools. This is serious sacrifice. You can see this in his production, mixing and mastering. Every sound is filtered with precision. I particularly like his orchestral and chamber strings. They transport me away. I also like his piano sounds and the way he executes them. Making good music is about knowing what sounds to render on a song and Frank does this for me in a spiritual sense.
His Production and finishing
Frank’s core competency is not his syncretized form of modern and traditional music, but rather, his production technique and finishing. This is what mostly propelled him to the top, coupled with his musical form described in point 1 above. Frank pays attention to every note and sound. If you have not been to his studios you can still hear the sound of quality investment in production equipment from his songs. He has perfected a process of musical production that ensures everything from his stable is certain to appeal to the senses.
Focus and attention to detail
Very few musicians pay attention to every minute detail of their song and performance. Frank’s personality helps him a lot in this. Frank is not an extrovert, rather I see him as an introvert. Most well known musicians, past and present, have this kind of temperament. He is not loud, disorganized, and all over the place. Music is an ability and moreso, a language, you can’t force it if you don’t know how to speak it. Frank has his things figured out and planned in his head before he arrives a place. Watch his stage performances. Frank pays attention to his songs and delivery. He does his job as a musician and worship leader and leaves God to do his job, which is to affect the crowd. Frank does not try to meddle in God’s business, he doesn’t involve in cosmetic move of the audience. He sings and relies on God to touch the people and surely God does touch and move his people. Just watch his audiences, there’s nothing artificial there. Frank doesn’t help God. This is one of the things I like most about Frank’s music ministry. He is not superficial or artificial. He is focused one step at a time and he doesn’t try to impress anybody. I have watched many hours of his songs on youtube both in live programmes in churches and he has remained consistent.
Simplicity of style and presentation
Listening to Frank’s songs, you get the idea that he knows much more than he is putting on the music score, yet he keeps things simple. He doesn’t venture into arrogant and complex keyboard or vocal renditions. I am a keyboardist and I know Frank’s latitude on the keyboard, the mother of all instruments. Frank projects so many aspects of this instrument at the same time, ranging from the orchestral, classical and modern. His appreciation of music traverses many historical eras such as the Victorian and the Orwellian eras and yet he manages to transpose this depth of knowledge into simple musical scores and content. Very few are able to subjugate deep knowledge in favour of simplicity. Frank’s dressing on stage is simple and not grandiose. I like that so much. You can see a deep sense of humility and purpose in his presentations.
I like to end like this. There is really no competition for the top. We are all serving God. No artiste is better than the other, but the difference between gospel artistes is the price you pay for your music and the favour that God grants. Come Sunday, 19th November, 2017 Frank will once again storm Abuja with his profound soul-lifting and Spirit-filled songs to lead us into God’s presence. Don’t miss it
Disclaimer: This piece is not a product of any survey or objective assessment of opinions from musical audiences. It is entirely my own personal opinion based on a number of parameters that are essential to me as a person. It is not aimed at offending, deprecating, debasing, or diminishing the values and qualities of any gospel artiste. All gospel artistes are unique, and there are many such artistes in Nigeria and across the world. I value and listen to a lot of artistes and time will fail me to mention them one by one. A lot of these are my friends. But this piece is dedicated to the music of Frank Edwards. In later treatises, I will find time for an exposition on other artistes.