Dr Yemi Oginni, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Lagos, is also a gospel artist who recently released her debut single “Stand By You” In this interview with the Editor of AN24.net, Paul Dada, she shares a remarkable experience that inspired her to write the song. According to her, God remarkably paid her medical bills of more than $16,000( over N6 million).
Let’s have a peep at your background
I hail from ijebu Igbo. From a family of five children of Jacob Adekunle Odulaja. My mother, Teresa Abiola Odulaja is a retired Director of Education. Her father was a one-time Registrar, Yaba College of Technology, Deputy Registrar, University of Lagos and Deputy Registrar, Ife, Ibadan Branch.
I hail from a long line of educators, doctors and architects. I graduated from the Yaba College of Technology with a Higher National Diploma in Architecture. I have a Bachelors degree in Architecture from the University of Lagos. I got a PhD in Architecture in 2018.
I am a Researcher, and a Consultant Architect with Design Engines Consulting.
So how does it look like for an academic to dabble in Gospel music?
I’ve always followed my heart. Music and Architecture have never been far apart. You hardly find an architect who doesn’t have a keen ear for good music. Many architects can either sing or play a musical instrument. It’s all in the arts, you see.
And being in gospel music, is dependent on your calling too.
When did your musical journey begin?
I think I started from way back when I was around six years old.
I’d been a very loud kid. I cried, or howled a lot. But I think the first trigger for me was when I went visiting an aunt’s friend in the hospital and I heard her sing an incredible alto tune to a popular hymn, “It is well with my soul.” After then, I picked interest in singing alto. I also had an interesting childhood. My immediate elder sister used to come home during holidays from Queens college and she’d teach me all the songs they used for miming, drama etc. So I used to sing then, Whitney Houston, CeCe Winans and the likes. So you can say I was self taught.
But was there a time you received a specific or definite call into gospel music?
Well. I received a specific call to be a consecrated Christian. What I mean here is I was born again at the age of eight, but only until 18 did I fully consecrate myself for God’s use, prior to my entry into the Polytechnic. It was there in my ND 2 I got a call to join the choir in my campus fellowship
Recently, you recorded a debut single Stand by You. What is the song about?
Well, prior to that I had tried recording others to no avail.
But Stand By You was different.
It was borne out of a very trying moment of my life.
I had a premonition to leave for the States a few years ago. I was pregnant, and had an expired passport! But the urge was so strong that one night I had to get on the internet and actually searched for the requirements. It was really overwhelming, but as I and my husband embarked on the task, all obstacles were miraculously removed, from a passport renewal to visa interview. And I was set to travel in a month. We then knew it was only God’s intervention.
My husband released me with his blessings and I travelled shortly after. Touching down in the States, I heard the Lord whisper specifically, ‘your husband will not pay the bills, I will.’
Now I was startled.
We had planned out how to meet up with the bills, as I wasn’t due to be delivered of my baby until a few months later. And I was not prepared to leave that certainty for uncertainty.
I said, ‘Lord, how am I going to meet up? I can’t go begging in the states.’ Then I felt a nudge, ‘why not claim the promise first?’ I then surrendered to His will. It wasn’t until the midnight of the delivery day that I realised everything was an emergency deliverance!
I went into major complications. I had eclampsia and we were losing the baby’s heart beat. My blood pressure rose up to over 180 and I was wheeled in for an emergency surgery. I would have been six feet under if I didn’t heed His voice.
Now with my baby, who had swallowed faeces, because my bag of waters had burst days before, the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice, I came out of the delivery room, weak and confused from all the battle and the operation.
Then shortly afterwards, I was slammed with a bill of over $16000 dollars. I could feel the storm brewing.
How would I tell my husband that our budget was not enough to cover the costs of the hospital bills? For a month, I couldn’t mention this to him. I only lifted up the bills, as Hezekiah did. ‘Lord take your bill. You said you would pay the bills. So here it is.
I pondered on what to do for about two weeks and decided to take a step of faith. I wrote the hospital of my situation. I told them I was paying out of pocket. I told them I was a civil servant in my country, and we did not plan for an emergency operation. This was not my first child. I had never delivered any child by operation, so I was just expecting a vaginal birth.
After I sent about three correspondences asking for a rebate, so we could cope with the bills, the hospital sent a shocker; 100% rebate and a whole year of medical expenses free from birth until the baby was one year old.
That night, Stand By You was birthed from a heart full of total gratitude to God for his amazing intervention. He said it, and He did it.
You can truly stand by Him, when he says something. When He gives you His Word, regardless of what you see, you can stand upon it!
What a story! What is your view on the state of gospel music in Nigeria?
I think it’s pushing the boundaries daily. Many young people are coming out now. There’s also room for improvement. But I want to see Gospel music doing what it is really meant to; heal, restore, uplift hearts, save souls It is not that it’s not doing that already, but we could use some more.
What is your advice for upcoming singers?
Well, I now know there’s a timing for everything; a season for everything under the sun. I can say I’ve always wanted to use my voice for anything besides singing in the kitchen, and it’s taken me so many years. I even had a failed attempt two years ago. So, I think one should keep grooming. It’s never enough, but regarding coming out, there’s a right moment and only God knows when. But he will whisper if you are attentive and connected.
Watch Stand by Me here