WHEN was the last time you listened to, or was inspired by any song ministration by any gospel musician? Have you considered the act of the sensational, award-winning male gospel musician and writer, Joe Mettle? How well do you know the young musician and his perspectives about life?
So, what if you found out that Joe Mettle, born Joseph Oscar Nii Armah Mettle on July 5 to Florence Addo (trader) and Emmanuel Mettle (trader), did a lot of trading during his childhood, selling items like brooms, sponges, canes, recharge cards, and waakye leaves?
Well, the lessons he learnt from these infant experiences is that, nobody should ever bury his or her dreams or aspirations regardless of the challenges that come their way. Focus, he says, is the watchword.
As the eldest of six children in his native Korle Gonno neighbourhood, with the typical boisterous lifestyles of its indigenes, Joe said he was exposed to a lot of good and bad activities that taught him a lot about taking up early responsibilities as well as being a hard worker.
But then, along the line, as he narrated, he started struggling medically and with each passing attempt by his parents to get a permanent solution to his continuous ailing, he had to undergo some very conventional processes, after realising that the orthodox methods were not helpful.
This explains the tribal marks on his face.
However, he got his healing much later and went back to his hustling life. In all these, there was something he did constantly, regardless of the other engagements he was involved in – he was into music.
Dreaming of becoming an architect one day, he said he also realised that by the tender ages of 12 and 15, apart from singing as a hobby, he might consider it as a full time job, but that had to definitely come, after schooling.
Joe Mettle started his education at the Richard Akwei Memorial School and later to the Kade 1&2 Primary School at Kade where he spent about a year before returning to Accra to the St. Michaels and All Angels.
He had his junior secondary school education at the Korle Gonno 3 Junior High School (JHS) before moving on to the Modesco Technical School at Mataheko where he read draughtsmanship, in a bid to pursue his dream to become an architect.
MAKING MUSIC A SERIOUS BUSINESS
In view of his little exploits of singing around with small groups in and out of school, he had an opportunity to meet the celebrated award-winning gospel music icon, Minister Danny Nettey, who helped him to polish his rudimentary style.
His special interest in African rhythms blended with a contemporary touch is a captivating uniqueness he exhibited from a very tender age as he was seen behind the drums, beating out rhythms out of them.
Before long, he caught the attention of the popular, award-winning, and versatile all male singing group, Soul Winners, shortly after its lead singer, relocated to the United States, bringing him into the frontline role.
At Soul Winners, with work steadily progressing on what would become a hit song from the group, Aboloo, Joe introduced in his diversity and intrinsic style to work, making it an evident hit that swept the airwaves for long.
The fame and name of Joe Mettle and the energetic Soul Winners was synonymous with all gospel related performances and events, but then a glitch came through along the way that pulled Joe completely out of the group.
His exposure to music with Soul Winners even as he travelled far and near with the group, imparting lives through their music and winning souls for the kingdom of God, became shaky when he gained admission to the Pentecost University College (PUC).
Missing important singing appointments and ministrations started becoming a challenge for the lead singer of the group and in the best interest of the group, Joe narrated how he had to make a painful decision to back out completely to allow somebody else to take over his reigns as the leader of the group. This was supposed to help him concentrate on his books.
GOSPEL INDUSTRY AND RECOGNITIONS: WHAT JOE THINKS
Joe Mettle says, “Not everybody who sings gospel is a Christian. To some it is work or a business and to others, it is a calling. It depends on your understanding of the gospel and the impact you intend to make”.
Asked about what he thinks about the industry itself, he replied rhetorically, “How can you speak about somebody if you don’t know him? Gospel itself means everything about Christ and the good news that speaks about the total life of Jesus Christ.”
Joe believes that organisations responsible for awarding artistes know how big the gospel industry or music is, but they are still struggling to come to terms with the fact that apart from it being a Christian thing, it also has the potential of being a commercial tool. They still look at it as a Christian thing or just simply as a church.
He believes that considering the criteria used in awarding acts from other genres, there are many gospel songs that over exceed those expectations and should be awarded but of course, they have the exclusive rights to determine which types of songs fall within those categories and who to award for what.
Additionally, he believes that while people might not complain about the charges for events organised by other artistes, when it comes to the gospel, people are a little apprehensive, thinking it should either be slashed down further or completely made free.
However, he is of the view that these events require a lot of planning, time and money and besides, “nobody makes even half of their costs out of just selling tickets because it is not possible to charge enough to cover those expenses.
“So people should come to the understanding that they are not paying for the programme but rather, they are paying to support the act or the event while enjoying the experience they have paid for.”
Another issue of concern he had to share was that for people who do circular music, there is always that support-for-one-another tradition that runs through their activities but which is conspicuously missing from the gospel music front, and even from Christian organisations.
However, he is not discouraged by these challenges because “this is something God has called me into and I know He would provide for me. A time is coming when these same people will come chasing, asking what they can do for you.”
Nhyira, My Gratitude, Me do wo, are a few of his songs and by dint of hard work, today his ministry has gone global as he has worked with renowned names like Don Moen, Israel Houghton, Micah Stampley, Alvin Slaughter, Sonnie Badu, and Cece Winans among others.
Today, it is hard to find any gospel event searching for a show-stopper that does not have the name, Joe Mettle on its bill.
Joe Mettle has received a number of awards and recognitions as a musician. Some of them are the Best Male Vocalist, Best Songwriter, and Best Video at the 2013 Ghana Gospel Industry Awards; Best Gospel Reggae Song at the 2013 edition of the Bass Awards; Best Praise Song in 2014 at the CCML Awards; and most recently, Best Male Vocalist at this year’s Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.