Funmi Aragbaiye

Funmi Aragbaiye, music evangelist, was born and bred in Ondo State. The gospel artiste, in her own account, answered the call of God to minister through songs. Funmi grew up in a strictly conservative home, with a mother who lying, or mixing with opposite sex, or failing in school unkindly. As a school girl, she was bright, and seldom fell below the third position in her class. Anytime she did, she would cry all the way home. Funmi Aragbaiye’s growing up and most of her schooling was done in Ondo state. After her A levels, she started her working career in Ilorin, Kwara State. Her journey into music started in this same state while she was living close to one of the ECWA churches, in the early seventies 70s, Funmi enjoyed the way they sang their songs, lovely and sonorous voices with great messages. Being from a Christian background and having a good voice, Funmi decided to join them, soon she started writing songs, inspiration she got from either her dreams or events happening around her.

Funmi claimed in 1986-87 to have started having dreams about performing for a large crowd, but never taking the dreams seriously. She received words from pastors who predicted she would minister someday, but took no heed. In 1983, while still working for Oyo State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Funmi finally took to music, and released her first album, which proved difficult. She was broke and help was not forthcoming.. Soon, Ebenezer Obey listened to her songs and released her album under his record label Decross in 1989. The album became successful, and the Oni of Ife decided to sponsor the video, an expensive endeavor at the time. Different record labels wanted to sign Funmi up, but she eventually agreed to sign with Sony Music and released a second album titled Divine Call under the supervision of Laolu Akins, who made sure that the album raised the bar for other gospel songs.

After Funmi Aragbaiye’s second album and a few more years in the ministry, she decided mixing the roles was not productive. She retired from the Oyo State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to concentrate solely on music, although she didn’t have any problems with her bosses. It worth noting that her time in the Ministry prepared her properly for the busy future she had ahead. Funmi started shows and stage performances, her first stage performance was in the 80’s during the anniversary of Iyaloja Market Association, Old Dugbe in Ibadan. Nervous at first, but the reception became warm after a while she just relaxed. There was time Funmi was asked to perform at the wedding of General Oladipo Diya’s son, Similolu at the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos; while waiting for the couple to arrive, she started to sing to entertain the guests, most of which were Military personnel, some of the songs she sang were about the ills of society and one of the SSS passed a paper to her that she was insulting the leaders, but she didn’t budge, only when the couple arrived did she change her songs. Funmi has released several albums, and have won several awards; She continues releasing albums, but only at a lower rate, because she travels more now doing performances. Her last album was titled Glory of God.

Funmi is married to a one time sub editor of Sunday Sketch Newspaper and later Press Secretary toGovernor Adekunle Ajasin of Ondo State. She has several children most of which play instruments.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer