African Music Giants on Parade in ‘76


Nseobong Okon-Ekong goes behind the scene of the much expected period movie, ’76 to offer a foretaste of the soundtracks

The much expected movie, ’76 directed by Izu Ojukwu has many factors that recommends it, one of which is the rich and interesting parade of Nigerian musicians whose creativity will be on display through their songs. Although a couple of them have passed on their memories are still alive through their timeless works.

Of the featured soundtracks in the movie, only Miriam Makeba’s ‘The Naughty Little Flea’ and ‘Where Does it Lead’ are sourced from an artiste outside Nigeria. Released in 1960 on a self-titled album on RCAVictor label, ‘The Naughty Little Flea’was originally released by Norman Byfield Thomas, a Jamaican artiste whose stage name was Lord Flea. Miriam was on exile from South Africa, fighting for a new direction. The symbolism of her struggle was not lost on the film. It was an African struggle and it embodied the time.

Explaining how they got rights to use the different songs in the movie, Adonijah Owiriwa who shares credit as executive producer with Tonye Princewill said they had to deal with a number of publishing companies within and outside the continent. Their first port of call was the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON). He said, “COSON was very helpful and assisted with linking us up with publishers that had rights to some specific songs. COSON also assisted with negotiating fair deals with the publishing companies on our behalf.”

However, some rights were obtained directly from the owners of the songs. The administrators of Fela’s Estate in Nigeria, according to Owiriwa, “were gracious enough to give us the right to use one of Fela’s greatest songs in the movie without charge. In fact, the representative of the family that attended to us during the discussion said: “This is indeed a laudable project, preserving our music and culture. I am sure Fela would have even offered to perform live in your movie if he were alive today.”

Four of the artistes featured in ’76 have passed on. They include highlife music giant, Cardinal Rex Lawson who led the Port Harcourt -based, Majors Dance Band. His hit ‘Jolly Papa’ is relived in the movie. Released in 1976, the year that the movie is set, Nelly Uchendu’s ‘Love Nwantinti’ makes it all a bit noteworthy. Often, Mike Obianwu who is credited with playing piano and organ on the recording is acknowledged with joint rights to the song.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s 1971 hit, ‘Buy Africa’ signposts an era when the military government of the day in Nigeria announced Africa as the centerpiece of its foreign policy – a guiding principle that has been sustained by subsequent governments till today.

However, a few discerning critics have questioned the choice of ‘Buy Africa’. For an artiste with a known history of rebellion, particularly against military governments, the question is why was one of Fela’s songs with scathing criticism of the military not used in ’76. Princewill explained that the movie producers did not want to get too political by forcing its views on the audience.

“We had a very good working relationship with the Nigerian Army. The army may have wanted us to make them less brutal, but that would have been unrealistic. Having a good relationship with the army did not make them immune to criticism. ’76 shows it as it is. A good working relationship involves mutual respect. Interestingly the army sees the movie as a platform that would further cement understanding between the military and civilians, even admitting that times are different now.”

Prince Nico Mbarga’s, ‘Sweet Mother’, one of the greatest hits out of Nigeria which is widely acknowledged as the bestselling album of all times also helps to create nostalgia in the movie. Mbarga has the privilege of having another song, ‘Aki Special’ in the movie.

With Mbarga and Makeba, ’76 has the distinction of being a celebration of Africa and the resilience of the African spirit. Mbarga was half Cameroonian. That accounted for the peculiar flavour in his music. His ‘Sweet Mother’ was rejected by the multi-national, EMI. He had to get the Onitsha-based Rogers All Stars label to release the song which signposted that era.

The two Victors – Victor Olaiya and Victor Uwaifo also register their presence with their creative works, ‘Baby Jowo’ and ‘Giodo Giodo’ respectively. Olaiya’s song has been recently remixed with popular Nigerian pop artiste 2Baba as ‘Baby Mi Da’.

Some of the songs were performed live in night club setting in the ‘70s and others were played over the radio. The songs served to define the mood of the movie. In trying to recreate or bring back how life was lived in the ‘70s, music of time is very significant. The music of the time is definitely going to evoke nostalgic feelings especially with those who lived and rocked the music at that time.

The night club setting had the typical highlife band of that time – drums, guitars, flutes. The audience will also see the old turntable with a disc jockey doing his thing.

Another important thing of note in the movie was the prevailing fashion of the time The social life of the era was defined by the fashion and the music-the Afros, high heel shoes for the men, bongo (bell bottom) trousers and very tight fitting shirts (which, incidentally, are now back in vogue). The ladies also had ‘ultra mini-skirts and gowns’. The American pop culture definitely played a role in the dressing and music, especially with the youths then.

In the movie, Chidi Mokeme who plays Major Gomos, generally depicts a jolly military man who loved fun. In one of the scenes, he is dancing to Fela’s ‘Buy Africa’ at the Officers’ Mess with several women

Izu Ojukwu, the director of the film, put together the songs while the original songs and score were recorded at Cine Studio in Munich where the post production of the film was done.

The fusion of the music of the era into this film is one of the distinguishing factors from other works. This is a period film and the music simply brings the period to live.

Rights for the works of Olaiya, Uwaifo and Lawson were obtained from Premier Publishing Company. Radio Nigeria gave the right to Uchendu’s ‘Love Nwantinti.

The premiere of the movie promises to be interesting as the producers plan to present a live performance of the soundtracks in the movie. Princewill also disclosed that DVD of the soundtrack will be issued in due course.

Ma-King Unleashes Kwajim

New kid on the block, Ikechukwu John Raphael aka Ma-King is heating up the entertainment space with his latest single, Kwajim.

“I am so excited right now. My song Kwajim is making waves. Kwajim means vibration in Igbo. It was produced by Playchord,” Ma King said.

The indigene of Anambra State started singing at the age of 19 miming in school competitions and clubs. He was part of a group called Hot Boys but left and joined a group called Dog Zone after which he clinched the award for Best Rapper in 2000 during a music competition that involved over 15 secondary schools in his community.

Among others, he has done collabos with the likes of Terry G, Butiza, a South African hit maker, Flavour, Zikora, and Rock9.

Commenting on his inspiration he said “My inspiration comes from God. My entire family especially my mother is in total support of my choice of career.”

In the nearest future, Ma-king says his dream is to win awards like the Grammys, BET Awards. He says his major influences are P Square, Tuface and Rick Ross but his major influences in music include Oliver de Coque and Osita Osadebe.

Ikekhuah’s Time Has Come

After much delays and discouragement, new gospel sensation, Iyabo Ikekhuah has finally launched her debut album Olorun Ara (God of Wonders).

The five-track album was launched recently at the private setting of the BHM Lounge, Ikeja, Lagos, witnessed by close friends, colleagues and family.

It’s been a long run for Ikekhuah whose passion in music started at an early age but constantly pushed aside to satisfy other needs. However, an encounter during her NYSC year urged her to take the bull by the horn. She founded a band called Jesufemi in 2004 and initially wanted to launch an album with the band in 2009 but it didn’t work out. Marriage and child-bearing were among the factors that delayed the album.

However, an overjoyed Ikekhuah who has been the choir coordinator in her church for ten years believed that her time has come to announce God’s wonders in her life. “I have been rehearsing this particular moment for a long time. And I’m so happy it finally came to pass.”

Those who knew her passion for music testified of her resilience to achieve her dream. CEO of BHM and Publisher of TheNetng Ayeni Adekunle described her as a woman of many parts. “Music has always been part of her but sometimes life just drag you into that dark corner but when she came back to say she wants to start her music career, I was happy for her. She didn’t just call me but has already recorded her songs. She is a woman of many parts; a trained teacher, a trader, an administrator, an evangelist and today a gospel musician.”

Written and composed by her, the songs are a mixture of Yoruba and Language and are available in the Orin Music Application. Ikekhuah believes that the album will offer a message of faith and hope to her teeming audience.

Artistes Managers Hold Seminar

The Association of Music Artistes Managers of Nigeria (AMAMN) recently had a training session for its members to sanitise the artiste management sector of the entertainment industry.

Ashley’s Lounge at Ikate-Elegushi (4th Lekki roundabout), played host to a multitude of recognised, practicing and fresh artiste managers on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, as the Association of Music Artiste Managers of Nigeria began the first in its intended training series of its members. The aim was not only to guide and direct upcoming artiste managers, but also to share ideas, challenges and solution so that the profession of artiste management is improved and better practiced.

Titled ‘The ABC of Artiste Management’, the seminar had speakers like Akinyemi Ayinoluwa, Esq., a seasoned entertainment lawyer who spoke on ‘The Dotted Lines’, covering what to look out for and include in contractual agreements between the Artiste Manager and the Artiste and also with the record label.

Ms Emem Ema, a talent manager, film producer and trained lawyer also took members on ‘The Business of Artiste Management’, with emphasis on the business aspect of artiste management and graphic representation of the financial flow in the music and entertainment industry and how an artiste manager can tap into it for their client. Mr. Ben Omesiete, a talent manager, spoke to the audience on ‘Creating and Managing Unique Brands’, while Mr. Edi Lawani, a talent and event manager expert, capped it with a training session on ‘Artiste and Event Management Basics’.

The President of the association, Sijuade Adedokun said the event was meant to address the basics of the profession.

At the event, membership certificate and identity cards were given to members who had completed their registration process, while Sijuade harped on the importance of dealing with only certified and trained artiste managers.