The history of Africa's Gospel Music Industry can not be written without mentioning his name. He is a living legend, and he has imparted many lives around the world with his music. With 14 albums to his name, over 40 years of experience in music, and several awards such as, Crystal Lifetime Achievement Award, Artist of the Year; BMI Music Award, Best Vocalist of the Year; FAME Gospel Music Award... to mention a few.
There's no doubt that my guest today is arguably the founding father of Gospel Music in Africa. It's with great pleasure that I introduce a living legend of our time, Dr Panam Percy Paul.
Dr. Panam: Thanks, it’s a pleasure.
ThankGod: Tell us a bit about yourself…
Dr Panam: I am from the Mbula tribe, Demsa Local Government Area of Adamawa state in Nigeria.
ThankGod: You started your musical career at age twenty and in 2014 you celebrated 40 years in Music Ministry. What have you thrived on this long?
Dr Panam: Nature, Vision, and Destiny are the ingredients I still thrive on.
Music is my nature—my talent and gift from God. I can't successfully be anything else in life except what I have been wired to be. It makes life easy because my gift already makes me a genius. I don't struggle I just do it because that's my nature.
Vision...because I have a goal. That goal is to bring answers to people through my music. As a minister I only seek and desire the good of the people I have been sent to.
Destiny...because this is what God made me to be and do. It gives me absolute pleasure; it is the most honourable thing in life. Serving God is the best thing anyone can ever do. It gives life daily.
Dr Panam: Panam College of Music Ministry started in 1998 with the vision of bringing excellence in the life of the music minister. We have since graduated over 2000 students in various courses.
The music label is a department within Panam Music World with responsibility of seeking out prospective talents and encouraging them into ministry through music recording, publishing and marketing. We are now working with about 10 talents.
ThankGod: That's great and encouraging. So, your father was a Major in the army, did he support your quest of becoming a musician?
Dr Panam: At the time I went into music ministry it wasn't in vogue or a thing of pride. My father felt I was a disgrace to the family, he wished I had joined the army or at least be the engineer I was trained for. It broke his heart and in 1978 he disowned me and stroke out my name from his will. We finally made up in 1997 at the release concert of the album, “Master of the Universe”—this was after nineteen years.
ThankGod: You have three Doctorate Degrees in Sound, Music and Philosophy, would you say education was key to your successful musical career?
Dr Panam: I lost complete interest in education when I opted for ministry, though I was brilliant but my passion for music was stronger. However in 1980 I met one Dr Heavens, he heard about me from one Rev Chucks in Kaduna. When we met he was quite fascinated by my eloquence and wisdom, I then handed to him part of a research project I had written in a book; he took it with him and read it through the night, at about 7am the next morning he was at my door. He appeared very angry, and when I opened the door he started shouting at me..."What are you doing here!!!.... You are wasting your time..."
I was shocked, but he later calmed down and started counselling with me to return to school because I had great depth and insight in music. My interest in academics started to grow from that time. I am glad to have studied this much. It has given me a better sense of reasoning and also to be able to express my thoughts even clearer. Yes, knowledge has given me an edge over my contemporaries, but it's all a gift.
ThankGod: You've spent over 40years in the Music Industry, any challenges for us to learn from?
Dr Panam: Forty years is a whole generation within which I have learnt so many things both good, bad and ugly.
Life is very simple. Whoever made life must have a reason for it and for each one of us; purpose therefore is of the essence, but I have discovered that it is impossible for anyone to discover and fulfill purpose outside of his creator.
God is therefore not an option. A viable relationship with God the creator is what we all need, that's the only place where we can discover purpose—without purpose life is useless.
Dr Panam: I can never stop writing songs. I will keep recording till my last breath. There are many projects I’m now working on, including movies, they will all soon hit the airwaves and big screens.
ThankGod: As an icon of Gospel Music in Africa, what do you think can be done to better the Gospel Music Industry in Africa?
Dr Panam: The industry needs protection, the practitioners need to earn their accurate wages instead of sharing with pirates. Piracy is the greatest destroyer of creative works, it must be fought and only the national governments have the powers to deal with such pirates—I hope they stand up to the challenge. The industry is a huge income earner for the country, it needs protection. Oil may soon finish but human creativity will outlive everyone and everything.
ThankGod: In 1993 you performed at the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York, is that the most memorable moment in your career?
Dr Panam: Standing on that stage at the Apollo Theatre was a dream come true. In 1967 I watched a James Brown concert on TV, it was titled "Live at the Apollo ". I then spoke to myself that one day I will stand on this same stage. So when in 1993 I was scheduled for that concert, I wasn't told the venue, I thought I would be in a church building as usual, until few days to my departure from Nigeria. Once we arrived the front entrance of the Apollo I turned and said to my wife....this was the picture I saw of me since 1967. I was super excited!
ThankGod: This interview will not be complete without a fatherly advice from you to the youths?
Dr Panam: I am very passionate about youths, though this forum is too limited for such words but, Youth is the best time in the life of all humans, it is the period where you discover purpose. It is the phase when all human abilities are at their optimum. Once you lose or misuse your youth your future is dead even before you arrive there.
The mistake the youths make is to assume the period of discovery to be for execution. After discovery there must be preparation before destiny. You will discover that most youths who become rich and successful in their thirties never live to be sixty—they all die before sixty, not because they have accomplished but due to wrong timing. This means they have nothing to pass to the next generation.
Patience, Patience, Patience!!!!! Is the word I leave for every youth so you would enjoy your years in peace and pleasure, even your old age will be with grace and pleasure because you lived without stress.
|Dr Panam at his youth|
Dr Panam: God our maker is a planner. He has finished the plans for our lives before we were born. It's so easy to live when he reveals your plan to you, but he never reveals them to those afar off.
Come back to Him. He's got all things worked out perfectly, you must be reborn in your spirit to access God and purpose; Jesus is the way to God. Call him, and He will come.
God can never market a product he didn't manufacture. Thanks.
(Images Credit: Dr Panam Percy Paul)
This interview was conducted by ThankGod Okorisha, All rights reserved, 14th August 2015.