Mother's Advice: Do NOT Marry a Musician

Of all the professions parents (especially Nigerian parents) advice their children to pursue, music ranks low on that all-too-familiar list.  I bet some kids were born clutching "Anatomy" textbooks in one hand, and "Civil Procedure" casebooks in another.  Oya, deny that your first word was not "A-M-O-E-B-A" (which somewhat rhymes with Amala)? Um-hmm! I thought so! 

Naturally, as soon as a baby jumps out of his/her mother's womb, the child is fed on a strict diet of limited professional choices.  You might recognize some of them:  Medicine, Law, Engineering, Accountancy ... and when all else fails, you can get a PhD in any field.  That way, you can have people address you as Professor XYZ, rather than just (God forbid) "XYZ."  Believe it or not, it is not exclusively a Nigerian thing.  It's pretty common in other parts of the world as well.

At some point, you must have heard your parents or older adults in your life say something along the lines of "Don't marry a musician." I have heard different versions of this statement, but in most of the cases, the parent was referring to secular artistes.  I guess the parent had the image of the hungry, broke, unsuccessful musician in mind. What can I say? It's tough out there.  The entertainment industry is very competitive, and even highly talented musicians don't always get noticed.

This statement is often followed by a list of vices that musicians are often associated with: drug and alcohol-abuse, lasciviousness (look it up), debauchery (look this up too).  It's a wonder that the global recession has not yet been blamed on them.  But who knows what the future holds?  That singular honor might just be coming up. Wait or it.  Or not.  Jokes apart, there is no smoke without fire, and we can think of examples of musicians who fit this very broad description.  But, there are also musicians who do not do any of these things, but the stigma of that profession / career path is still attached to them, right?  Hold that thought.

I was thinking of this with respect with gospel musicians.  Do parents (let's stick with Nigerian parents for this discussion) discourage their children from marrying gospel artistes? Ah, different considerations, ba? Yep! I thought so too.

You see, the evils associated with secular artistes is not often extended to gospel artistes.  Why? Because of what gospel music is associated with, i.e the Church.  For the most part (with exceptions, of course), we expect gospel artistes to lead squeaky clean lives, kinda like the image the Church is supposed to project.  I won't even bother dissecting that argument.  Not today. What I will say is that there is a serious misconcerption about gospel artistes, i.e. that they are all called by God to "go" into music.  Newsflash: Some of them are in it for the money, fame, etc, same as any other profession.

 Let's assume for the sake of sanity, that they are indeed called to be gospel musicians.  In that case, the artiste can be compared to a preacher, except that he uses music to preach his message(s).  [*giggling*: I just imagined a pastor singing his entire sermon in a tenor voice, opera-style. Mwa ha ha ha!] Even then, not every pastor is a mega-pastor, right?  There are impoverished, struggling pastors everywhere.  Assuming that's the case with the gospel artiste, how do parents handle the decision to marry an artiste at this stage of his/her career?

I think gospel artistes are not perceived as being as successful (financially and impact-wise) as their secular counterparts.  However, when it comes to marriage, since parents do not have the same reservations for gospel artistes that they extend to secular artistes, do they care if their children marry these artistes?  I would say Yes.  I think it depends on where the artiste is in his or her career.

I would say that parents are more likely to support a union where the artiste in question is financially buoyant or has achieved some level of success, with positive financial "mainfestations."  I had male artistes in mind when I was writing this because men are still viewed as the providers for their families.  For women, I don't think there is as much concern, unless she is already more successful than her husband-to-be. I would like to hear your thoughts on this one: Do you think parents discourage their children from marrying gospel artistes?

P.S.  I typed this out on a Sunday afternoon at Starbucks, listening to IBK Spaceshipboi's "I have a dream."  It was all I could do to keep from jumping on the table and demonstrating.  I figured my co-coffee-drinkers would not approve, or join me.  So, I settled for nodding my head to the beat instead.  Not too bad, right?


Image Source: Flickr

I'm pretty certain that for my own people whether gospel or secular... DON'T MARRY A MUSICIAN equals DON'T MARRY A MUSICIAN.

In fact, scratch out actor, poet, novelist, personal trainer, hair dresser/artist(like they like to call themselves these days), tailor/designer (like they call themselves), painter/interior decorator (...some call themselves this too) and anything like that alongside the musician.

It takes a lot to break out.... especially if you're African!

I guess parents just want 'safe' and financial security for their children. Some parents are actually getting more open minded in this regard particularly if such musician has investments in real estate and some other 'stable' ventures.

So why didn't you jump on the table and get someone to snap you na? Oya go back to Starbucks and re-do sho gbo? Good girl

Lol @” the child is fed on a strict diet of limited professional choices”... I didnt think the advice was as a result of Evil/worldliness associated with Musicians, I always thought it was because of the uncertain economic future of most musicians

Interesting insight actually. I am of the opinion that parents know better; their advice is usually a good one to follow. They know what they are saying...


Hmm, I never thought of it oo. You and this your mind sha.

I feel parents are more liberal nowadays.

Nollywood ReInvented: Hmmm ... so for you it does not matter what the person sings about. As long as music, or any other similar trade is in the picture, no can do, ba? Okay o. No need for any distinction then. LOL at your categories: painter / interior decorator? Come on now, there's a difference.

Toinlicious: A safe financial future. That's what I thought too. I see what you mean about parents being more open-minded, but I think for the most part, the consensus is still "Don't marry a musician."

Meanwhile, I can go back and re-take the picture if you promise to jump on the table first. *singing Follow the Leader, a non-existent song*

9jaFoodie: Yes, the economic part is important, but so is the way musicians are perceived, especially for the ones who have not "made it." I remember a line from Mr. Aristo by Moyeen where she said "Olodo lo n k'orin." Translation: Only a dunce becomes a musician/singer. I think that pretty much sums it up.

LDP: The older I get, the more likely I am to take your stance, i.e. listen to parents. But there are cases where parents are wrong too. Generally, I have to agree with you: you should at least consider their advice, but just dismiss it.

Atilola: That's basically what Toinlicious said, i.e. that parents are more open-minded now. I still think that generally, they still chant the "Don't marry a musician" mantra.

I followed my parents advice and became a doctor. I'm not very happy in this profession, but at least I will ALWAYS have a job if I want it. I choose happiness though, and now that I've done something that made them proud, it's time to do something for myself. I think that if I could have done it all over again, I would have followed my passion to study different languages and the opportunity that pays would have shown up :)


Ugo: Your story sounds a lot like a friend of mine. Just like you, he also was a doctor, but later decided to study music, and has found a way to combine both. But, there is still time to follow your passion now. It is not too late!


I would love to hear your thoughts. Please Share.

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