So I met this damsel with a Heart of Gold in Canada, funny enough that we never knew each other way back in Nigeria while attending same Church. I find her story intriguing and interesting.I learnt a lot from her story and I shared my thoughts alongside; so I thought to feature her here for you to read her story and get blessed as well!
Please meet one of the coolest, HIGHLY resourceful, sweet, Intelligent and gracious friend of mine; my lovely guest: Keziah Folarin- Babatunde aka “Kez” but I call her “Kezzy.”
I have been fortunate to experience life on three Continents and my journey has been as much spiritual as it has been geographical. I moved from Nigeria to England in 2011 shortly after I got married. Prior to moving to England, I was fortunate to find musical expression at different stages of my life while in Nigeria.
I started singing at a very young age in church, small gatherings and conferences. I was the choir leader of my high school church choir of approximately 15-20 singers. I went on to join the youth choir of the Food for Total Man Ministry called YBSC an acronym for Young Brothers and Sisters in Christ. During my undergraduate studies, I joined the choir of House on the Rock, Jos Plateau State where I served for about 4 years.
My passion for creative expression is deep at the root of who I am. Singing is my unique means of creative expression. Music for me has been a lifelong companion like a friend for all time. I found comfort in it, refreshing in it and peace with it.
God has chosen to bless me with a voice which fear has since tried to silence. Silence is the antithesis to expression. I feel there are a lot of people out there who have allowed fear or lack of confidence to prevent them from utilising their gift. God gave you a gift for a reason and believe me the enemy will try everything he can to silence you. You have to allow your passion pierce through your fears and liberate you. Sing out and sing loud even if you make a mistake because by doing you become better, you become aware of your strengths and weaknesses and you then have an opportunity to work on them. Never let fear silence you.
Unafraid, confident and eager to serve God, I diligently applied my gifts for use in God’s Kingdom. However, sometime during this period, I found that I had begun to experience fear and a lack of confidence in my singing ability.
After a protracted period of struggling with these issues I decided to stop singing indefinitely. I allowed the fear to overwhelm and subsequently silence me. But the thing about a gift or a dream from God is that even when you give up on it, it will not give up on you.
My Thoughts: Never let fear pull you back- “For God has not given us the spirit of fear but the spirit of power, love and of sound mind” Always believe in yourself.
As I continued in other areas of ministry, (Fellowship Leader, Youth & Singles Ministry, I had a constant longing to go back to singing but I made excuses based on the experiences of my past. I got so heavily involved in other areas of ministry that it seemed difficult for me to leave what I was doing and go back to singing.
After a long period of rationalization (about 7 years) punctuated with fear of the past and the uncertainty of the future, I decided that I was going to go drop everything else I was doing so I can follow my true passion which was music. That resolve materialized when I moved to England where I began singing as part of the worship team of Christian Centre, Nottingham. God being a master orchestrator gave me a companion who is a seasoned praise and worship leader/singer.
- In House on the Rock Jos, I served in different capacities at different times. I was the Leader of the Rock Foundation Fellowship (TRF) which is HOTR Campus Fellowship at the University of Jos. I was also involved in the youth and singles ministry and I was the department head of protocol.
- In House on the Rock Abuja, I was involved in children’s ministry for a time and I was in Protocol department.
- In House on the Rock Lagos, I was in Protocol department, House on the Rock, Lagos
I am a House on the Rock Pikin oh!!!! (Laughing)
Priscilla: I can see that. (laughs)
Where you fulfilled doing other stuffs aside Singing?
Hummn! Good question, I was extremely unfulfilled but I was in denial because I was trying to internally justify my reason for leaving. So when I stopped singing, I tried to convince myself that God has given me many talents and I can find fulfilment in any of them. That rationalization pacified me for a time but not for long. I sometimes felt miserable when I know I should be singing but I wasn’t!
Priscilla: At what point did you start realising you had to go back to singing
I always knew I had to go back but I fought the feeling. When I left the choir, I kept telling myself to go back to fight through the fear, it was sort of an internal battle of fear and faith. It’s funny because during my seven year hiatus, at about the 4th year I will make new year’s resolution that included me going back to the choir, starting music school, learning to play the piano but ….. Your guess is as good as mine; I never got around to actually doing anything about it until I relocated to England. My one regret in life is deciding to leave singing because I feel like I lost valuable time that could have been used to develop and express my gift but I know God has a way of making all things work out for my good. I know he will restore all the lost years. I know I have matured in my faith in those years and I have a different sound now than I had back then
Priscilla: Singing in Nigeria, England & Canada
Singing and the music ministry is very different in Nigeria, England and Canada. Nigerians are very expressive and it shows in our worship. We sing loudly, exuberantly and do not need much to get us started. I very much think we have the David streak when it comes to our worship. We have a lot of harmonies in our songs and complexities in the arrangement of our music which is fantastic but has the tendency to interfere with the worship experience. So singing in Nigeria took a lot out of my physically and mentally. For someone who wasn’t professionally trained I learnt a lot by ear.
England on the other hand is more traditional. The people are naturally conservative and so is their music, they love the hymns a lot (laughs) Most of their songs have simple melodies that encourages people to engage. So while in England I had to learn to tone down my expression without reducing my passion. I had to relearn the purity and simplicity of the worship experience. The goal of music and worship is always to connect with the people and lead them on a journey so it makes little sense if you cannot connect on their level. You cannot be too far removed from the people that you lead or to whom you minister.
Canada and England are similar in style but from my observation, they are somewhere in the middle. My local church has one of the most expressive congregants I have seen in a long time and that’s fantastic. I think the combination of all the different styles and expressions I have experienced on different continents has allowed me to be a more rounded singer and worshipper too. It has taught me how to connect with all types of people while still remaining uniquely
Priscilla: How did your husband influence your music?
My husband is the perfect mate and a consummate worshipper. He is passionate about music and its highest and best expression as an offering to God. His influence on my music has been strong and undeniable. I have learnt from him about how to deal with other singers and musicians (different personalities and differing age gaps) during rehearsals and ministration. I also learnt the dynamics and techniques of song selection and arrangement. He is my biggest fan, a great encourager and my sounding board. Ain’t I lucky?
Priscilla: Oh yes you are!!! (laughs)
God being a master orchestrator gave me a companion who is a seasoned praise and worship leader/singer. Through his encouragement, support and the grace of God I am back doing what I love to do. After a couple of years in England, we moved to Canada in 2013. Since then, I have joined a local church here in Hamilton Ontario. I am currently spending my time writing songs, working with a vocal teacher and honouring invitations to minister. I am excited about what God is doing in me and what he is set to do through me.
One of the things moving did for me was to provide the opportunity for deep self reflection away from everything familiar and comfortable. It allowed me to find the real me devoid of externalities, to find my voice and my authentic means of expression. It has been a journey of self discovery, of self understanding, of self acceptance and ultimately of continued surrender to God’s sovereign will over my life.
Dear readers, I hope you learnt something. Thanks Kez for sharing.You can connect with Kez on social media. God bless.
Facebook: Keziah Folarin-Babatunde
Google Plus: Keziah Folarin-Babatunde