Did you start your music career at a tender age?
Yes, I started playing music in primary school. I became a member of the school band, then choir leader and member of the community band. I was the youngest but the most important to them as I played all percussions and performed the vocals.
When you started as a teenager, did you ever envisage that music was going to fetch you an international recognition?
Yes, I knew. The reason is, because right from school, every time I entered the school premises, the mood changed. People kept shouting my name. My mates and those even older than me and the teachers admired me.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s many believed you and King Sunny Ade were rivals. Don’t you believe that?
No! We were not rivals. People only thought we were. My name is Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi and I can be identified by what I stood for. I am a very good composer with good songs and meaningful lyrics. That is my talent. When people listen to my songs, people can’t just get enough. That’s why people still talk about my old records. I have more evergreen songs than anybody else and that has been proven.
So, you never saw King Sunny Ade as your rival?
No, I only see him as a brother and a colleague who God has given a unique talent like me. Obey is Obey and Sunny is Sunny. No controversy!
Don’t you think that if you hadn’t left secular music for gospel music, you could have been richer today, knowing full well that secular music is lucrative?
Anybody saying that doesn’t know the value of God. Falling is not a problem. Anybody can fall.
But would you rather accept that you could have been richer as a secular musician?
No, no, Ayo, I disagree. Listen, that’s where people miss it. Who knows where money is? Only God knows. The one who commanded that money should be available in the belly of a fish. I lean on God always and depend on Him always for my provisions. The cars I have today are all gifts. Just a single man has been buying my cars for me. He knows when my cars are due for replacement and he has taken that as his responsibility. I have a car that I have only driven for five times and I got it over a year now. Just from one man, not two.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered as someone that came to the world, played music with so much passion and did everything according to God’s plans.