Zambia-born, London-based NANA MARGARET TANDOH told Tony Cummings about her music and ministry
Tony: Can you provide some background, Nana Margaret?
Nana Margaret: I was born in Lusaka, Zambia in the early '70s. I was brought up in a religious home. My maternal grandfather was an Anglican priest and so I pretty much went to church all my life, but I never really knew God. I went to a catholic boarding school called Lwitikila Girls. In 1988 a revival broke out and a lot of people became born again Christians due to that revival. During my fifth form, in 1989, I also came to know the Lord as a result of that revival. Two years earlier, I had heard the Gospel preached to me but I never made any real changes in my life. It was during this revival that I made a firm decision to get to know the Lord Jesus Christ personally.
Tony: What were you doing musically before 'Seasons & Time'?
Nana Margaret: Believe it or not 'Seasons & Times' is actually my second album! 'Incredible' was my first and it was produced by Nicky Brown. It didn't sell a lot but I thank God for the opportunity to work with such a talented producer and to quietly "learn the trade". In between the two albums I sang at Christian conferences such as the Festival Of Life at the Wembley arena, churches and concerts. I also sang alongside such greats as Helen Baylor, Dawkins & Dawkins and Gospel Gangstaz. It was indeed an honour and a great learning experience. I am currently a worship leader with the choir at my local church - House On The Rock, The London Lighthouse Parish and that has kept me focussed spiritually and musically. But even while doing that I kept on writing and the result is the album 'Seasons & Times'.
Tony: What do you remember about the sessions for 'Seasons & Time'? How was it working with Emmanuel Edwards?
Nana Margaret: The writing and producing of 'Seasons & Times' was truly a "God moment." A month before the production of the album I brought together at least six reputable songwriters, including the producer Emmanuel Edwards himself, to write for this project. I knew God had been speaking to me quite categorically about the theme of this album - "seasons and times". All the songs came together within a few weeks. I went into the studio to do the vocals after that, and that took about six weeks but it was so much fun! On backing vocals I had Ayo from GK Real as well as Mercy Adjepong and Carl Harris - what talent!. Emmanuel Edwards is a very thorough producer - a true perfectionist. He really did bring the best out of me vocally. He did not press the record button until he was absolutely happy with what he was hearing. One thing I remember about our time of producing was that he would always say, "Throw your notes into a box! Never sing a careless note. Every note is as important as the last." The result is the excellent product that so many are enjoying listening to today.
Tony: How would you say British gospel stands up against its American counterpart?
Nana Margaret: There is no doubt that British gospel music is on the rise. Recently we have seen the rise of several gospel groups such as Raymond & Co, Siani, GK Real, Riversongs, Four Konerz and other upcoming soloists. The quality of these groups is remarkable. However there is a lot more investment to be made into the gospel industry in the UK. Most of these artists have little or no support from the music industry, which is something that US gospel industry is better at. Big companies such as Sony, Electra and so forth are on the other hand backing most of the US artists. We need a lot more support from the music industry here in the UK so that we as artists can be freer to spread the word of God through music. I think UK gospel music could be just as good as the US gospel music if the right kind of investment is given to it.
Tony: What plans do you have for the future?
Nana Margaret: My plans for future are to promote this album 'Seasons & Times' as much as possible and to spread the word of God through my music in order to bring the full package of salvation to my listeners nationally and internationally. Plans are in place to record music videos for some of my songs. I also plan to start writing for my next album soon.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.