“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” – Colossians 3:23-24
The growing demonstration of ingratitude that has for years bedevilled Ghana’s gospel industry and the non-recognition of legends are largely to blame for the inability of the industry to flourish as an important wing of God’s ministry.
Gospel music, in spite of the growing challenges, continues to serve as an important instrument to propagate the gospel courtesy the persistent contribution of some few individuals who have dedicated themselves to the task.
One name that stands out among the few unsung heroes who are working devotedly to sustain the momentum is the legendary Reverend Ferdinand Larbi Martinson. In fact, any account on the evolution and growth of Ghana’s gospel industry would be incomplete without reference to Rev. Martinson.
A teacher by profession, Rev Martinson, who hails from Aburi in the Eastern Region of Ghana, is now a full time gospel musician. Described by many as the “master of worship” the song writer, singer, instrumentalist, and pastor has spent decades in the gospel industry, leaving remarkable footprints on the successes of many musicians in the gospel fraternity.
Through his dulcet voice, creativity and dynamism, he has blessed the church and gospel music lovers with numerous powerful songs, many of which have become a major conduit for exaltation and invoking the presence of God.
Lifetime releases such as “wofata , kronkron, adom, tumi ye wode, ye meho nsenkyerehene, me dofo kesse, adom ara k3k3, adom nsuo among others have dominated worship songs ministered in our churches in the past three decades.
As a prolific songwriter, Rev. Martinson has written many inspiring songs for a number of Ghanaian gospel artistes, many of whom have become household names in the music industry in general. He has demonstrated his versatility and service by singing back-ups for almost all the celebrated gospel musicians in Ghana.
Award-winning gospel artists such as Elder Mireku, Jewel Ackah, Ohemaa Mercy, No tribe,Cecilia Marfo, Gifty Osei, Nicholas Omane Acheampong, Ophelia Nyantakyi, Pofessor Kofi Abraham, have all benefitted and continue to benefit from his exploits.
Although Rev. Martinson has enjoyed little recognition, beneficiaries of his talent and mentorship have recorded exceeding breakthrough in the gospel ministry and business, all of which reflects his selflessness and bigheartedness.
It is said that a true hero is not measured by the size of his strength but by the strength of his heart. Aside enduring a gruelling start in his musical career, Rev Martinson persisted in his quest to make an indelible impact in the gospel industry, a drive that is few and far between.
In one of his interviews, he recounts how he almost gave up on music after being disappointed by many gospel artists who benefited from his free-handedness and shot to fame.
“At some point, I took a painful decision to stop doing music after suffering a lot of disappointments. But what kept me moving was my father in music, Jewel Ackah who advised me to persist because we are working for God and not man… I am not interested in money. I am interested in serving God and using music to draw many people to Christ” he recounted.
The lack of unity among gospel artists has been identified as one of the pressing issues troubling the growth of the industry. Some industry players have underscored the need for gospel artists to regard themselves as having a common purpose and collaborate to advance the kingdom business. In an era where competition was keen among the gospel fraternity, Rev. Martinson defied the odds and featured Nicholas Omane Acheampong on a song – becoming the first gospel artist to do so.
Although he is not living in Ghana currently, he continues to lift the banner of Ghana and Christ around the world, leading choirs in mega churches and ministering to multitudes on diverse platforms. With five worship albums to his credit, Rev. Martinson also has a seven piece gospel group called “VOICES OF THE ARK”, touring the whole of Ghana to spread the gospel.
It is said that a country that does not recognise its heroes is not worth dying for. Similarly, an industry that does not accord its legends the needed acknowledgment may not be worth sacrificing for. Unlike the likes of Rev. Martinson who would give their all beyond reward, many others may hang their boots in frustration – a situation that could wreck the prospects of the industry.
The time has come for us to honour our heroes while they are alive and appreciate their contributions to the industry and the church at large. This should not be necessarily monetary. Sometimes a one-paragraph sentence touting their successes can be gratifying.
Follow Rev.Martinson https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqMKuwqN4DmWiPhsdDPNxJA
By Eddie Acquah