MY SECRET IS IN THE RIGHT APPLICATION OF GOD’S WORD – Simon Keys
Simon Ugochukwu Ekpe, popularly called Simon Keys is a solo pianist, an accomplished keyboardist, accompanist, composer, artist, arranger and a prolific producer whose skill and astuteness on the Piano has accorded the opportunity to play with various artistes and feature in many events in Nigeria and around the world. Simon Keys oozes humility and indescribable joy as should be expected of a true child of God. He laughed heartily all through the interview and didn’t hold back from answering every question he was asked. He is also very passionate about issues that he believes he has a handle of. He is married to himself as he sees his spouse as himself and they are blessed with three boys. Below is an edited version of our interview with him. This interview was held on the 28th of October, 2016.
I have been playing the piano for about twenty-five years now. I relocated to Lagos from Benin in 2002 and since I was playing the keyboard in Benin, I continued playing it when I got to Lagos. Week in week out, I would play in clubs, weddings, corporate functions, night clubs but not in the church. I didn’t even go to church but the turnaround came for me one Saturday morning in February 2007. I had played at the club the previous day and I was beginning to take into cognizance the fact that my life was just going around in a circle, you know, no changes, I would play in club today, go home, and the same thing would happen week after week, after week and I was squatting at my brother’s-in-law place somewhere in Ogba. That Saturday morning, around 7:25a.m, I saw a man on television teaching and he was saying, “Your decision determines your destiny. What you focus on is what you attract. Anything you are doing, you can prosper when you put your hope …” and just like that, the man’s name was flashed- Sam Adeyemi.
I screamed, “Who is this guy?” He looked South African to me so I left it at that.
Sometime within the week, I was with a friend and I just mentioned the name and the message and my friend said, “That’s my pastor!”
My friend told me the name of the church and where it was situated and since it was a Wednesday and they were going to have their mid-week service that very day, I took a motorcycle to see the church- Daystar Christian Centre.
I saw the guy live! (Laughs)
And God so kind, I knew the music director of the church- K-sticks so I approached him that I would like to play for the church even if I didn’t get paid for it and fortunately for me, they wanted to get a keyboardist that could blend easily because one had just left.
I was begging K-sticks to allow me play for them. I just wanted to be around the guy I saw on television; I was hungry to hear more from him. (Laughs)
I volunteered to play even for free if necessary; I didn’t care, as long as I can be close to the guy, I would play for the church.
That was my turning point in my life!
I started reading his books. I started learning about the power of Imagination and the power of visualization from his books. I also got ‘The parable of the dollars.’ I was soaking myself in all of it and before I knew it, I was saying to myself and everyone who cared enough to listen, “Anything you want to be in this life, you can be the best in it. You can be known with anything you are doing!” So I focused on my piano and everything began to turn around for me. I got a place of my own. I started getting jobs from reputable hotels in the city and I also got married.
But the main point I’ll say is: God who did it all for me! It started from God making me to be at the right place and at the right time and He gave me the grace to apply His word to my way of life. I tell you, it is through the correct application of God’s word that anyone can ever be truly successful in life.
If anybody had told me when I came to Lagos that I would be where I am today, I would have shut him/her up but it has pleased God to bring me this far and I know He is not done with me yet.
I’ve shared my testimony with Reverend Sam before and he asked that I wrote it down but now that I have met you guys, you can write it for me and I will give it to him to read.
If there’s anybody who gave his life to Jesus through television broadcast, it is me!
I didn’t come to church before giving my life. I gave it through Success power and that is why it is like a covenant for me. I have been approached by big ministries in this city to be their church’s keyboardist but I tell them, I will leave here if Pastor Sam leaves. (Laughs) If you knew where I was coming from, you will understand my sentiment; it’s been God and only God!
Perhaps you can tell us about it.
When I was coming to Lagos from Benin, I had no hope in what I was doing.
When people who do what I do tell me it is impossible to make it through playing piano, alone, I laugh.
There’s no place that I have not played piano and the secret is not about the talent but the application of God’s word on what I do.
The bible says, “Arise, shine!” so I apply God’s word in my playing and that makes everything change.
My father died when I was fourteen years old. We were in Benin then. He was a pastor so they called us to the church to break the news to us. Immediately we were told of his death, I shouted, “Daddy!” and I went down, then, I saw the keyboard in the church and I walked towards it
Was it real or imagined keyboard?
Real! It was in the church.
As I stood in front of it, I heard a voice say to me, “This is your future. This is what you will use to make anything in this life.”
Yes, at fourteen.
My father loved me dearly so my mother was worried about me; she was wondering how I would cope without my father. So I heard that voice that day…
Were you born again then?
Well I wasn’t a bad child. I was born and brought up in a Christian home- we prayed and did all you could expect of a Christian family. We did all the right things but I had no personal relationship with God; I didn’t know Christ the way I know Him now.
You know a lot of people are like that, they pray in the morning and they go to church but they do not have personal relationship with God, they are not committed to His word. I was like that. I didn’t know how to study and meditate on His word.
So like I said, I just heard that voice speak to me.
Believe me, everywhere I have been to, all the money I have made in my life is through playing the keyboard. I remember that while I was in Benin, the VC of UNIBEN offered me a scholarship but I turned it down…
Were you a student there?
Not exactly. I got an admission into the school and he offered to give me scholarship but I turned it down.
I told him I had made up my mind in my life that through this keyboard the world would know me. He saw me about three years ago at Eko Hotel and he called his friends to come see the guy who refused the scholarship he gave. He was really surprised to see what has become of me. When he asked me how I did it, I couldn’t but tell him its God’s doing and it is marvelous in my sight.
So the secret of my growth is God.
Sometimes, I can’t imagine how I blend; I cannot figure out how I move. How I got to this level, I cannot explain but I acknowledge that the main source of it all is God through the right application of His word.
When did you start playing the keyboard?
I started playing when I was eleven years.
That was before your dad’s death?
How did you learn to play?
Now you are coming to my question. (Laughs) It was self-taught. A family friend taught me what we call Do Fa So in music and I picked it from there. He used to visit my family every time he was on holiday so he left for school after teaching me the progression and by the time he came for his next holiday, he was surprised to see how much I have learnt. He couldn’t believe his ears that no one was teaching me when I told him I only put in efforts on my own.
How is married life?
Oh, very good. I married my wife; my friend and I married myself. (Laughs) There is a series I want to teach about marriage that I think people do not understand.
In marriage, if you are seeing your wife as another person, there will be a problem. You must see her as yourself so I ask you, will you quarrel with yourself? Will you beat yourself up? No! So that should be the issue with marriage. The bible says two becomes one so you must see yourselves as one and the same. My wife and I were doing the same thing before we got married.
She plays too?
No. She sings.
We were friends for like four years, so the friendship has always been there before marriage entered in. This is why I tell people you cannot do courtship in six months and say it’s enough to get married to each other.
Courtship cannot do what friendship can. It is friendship that will grow and make you start seeing yourselves as one. There’s a problem with that word ‘wife’, it’s like another person, so when I see myself as one with my wife, I will understand that I cannot be quarreling with myself and whatever happens, you just know that if you are quarrelling with your wife, you are quarreling with yourself. If you slap your wife, you are slapping yourself. We are eight years in marriage this year.
Does she still sing?
Not for now. She‘s with the children now. She doesn’t want a house-help to take care of our boys; one keeps hearing gory tales about them and I agree with her on that though I pay her for doing that. (Laughs)
You have to.
Yes o! Some people condescendingly think being a house-wife is easy. Hmm! House-wife is work! I know for sure and I also acknowledge that we all need the help of God.
You seem to be filled with joy. You have been smiling and talking like you have no worries. Is this the normal you?
Hmm! If you know me very well, you will know I am a happy person. See, worry kills. The bible says, “Be anxious for nothing…” If everybody can be living a Christian lifestyle, there will be no reason for worries. We seem to have so many church-goers who are not filled with the fruit of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, meekness etc. If you find a Christian grumbling, you should be concerned because there is no issue the Holy Spirit cannot solve; there’s no issue bigger than Him. The bigger the problem, the bigger the testimony so there’s no need to be anxious for anything. That phrase alone should be enough for every Christian.
I learn a lot from my children. Whatever they need, they will just tell you, “Daddy, I need so and so.” And they will continue doing what they do best which is play. (Laughs)
They will just be like daddy I want this, daddy I want that, daddy I want to eat this, daddy I want to eat that, daddy where is it, and before you know it, they will be playing. It is now you who will be doing the thinking of how to meet their needs for them. The same thing applies to God. When you have told God what you want, you must learn to trust Him enough to do it for you. When you pray, believe and you shall receive so there’s no need for me to keep thinking about it when I have told my Father. (Laughs) It’s a very small thing but it’s deep. God has no capacity for anxiety.