By Nseobong Okon-Ekong
Olubunmi Sadiq, a pregnant woman, led her Oludare Cultural Group to emerge top in the drumming category, winning N1 million cash prize in the recently concluded Ariya Repete talent hunt at Trans Amusement Park, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Other winners at the keenly contested event were Ashafa Olushola Martins who got N2 million prize for emerging tops in the Fuji category, while Ayodele Olatunji a.k.a. Femi Bright also went home with N2 million cash prize after winning the Juju category.
Consolation prizes ranging from N1m to N250,000 were given to first and second runners-up in all the three categories.
The grand finale was a culmination of three months of display of superb music talent by over 5000 up-and-coming acts across the south-west and Ilorin, an even more rigorous selection process by the judges.
It was a long road to the final as each contestant progressed from the audition stage and went through rigorous grooming and mentorship sessions at the Ariya Academy. Eventually, out of about 5000 contestants, only 16 progressed to the final in Ibadan after they were selected from the forty that slugged it out in the Lagos semi-finals.
For the Fuji category, only six contestants namely Ayomide Ode Omotola, Saheed Akangbe, Abiodun Saheed Oloto, Sulaimon Ajibola Destiny, Mohammed Adewale and Asafa Olushola made it to the final. Another four, Wale Crown, Bukola Ahmed, Ayodele Olatunji (a.k.a Femi Bright) and Ayegbayo Oluwaseun qualified from the Juju music category. They were joined in the final by the six dance groups; Ifesowapo Cultural Group, Sakuba Cultural Group, Oludare Cultural Group, Igba Iwase African Entertainment Cultural Group and Eniafede Dance Group.
The finalists treated treated the audience to rich renditions of their songs. Their sonorous voices rent the night as the whole of Ibadan stood still for the performances of all the 16 budding artistes. They all delivered very impressive show making the selection of the eventual winners even tougher for the judges. In the end, after a long period of result collation and consultation, Ashafa Olushola Martins, Ayodele Olatunji, and Oludare Cultural Group were adjudged most brilliant.
Appraising his company’s sponsorship of the event, Franco Maggi Maria, Marketing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc said: â€œAs Nigeriaâ€™s first indigenous brewery, our pro-Nigerian orientation is evident in our various initiatives. The Ariya Repete roundtable and talent hunt is a reflection of our commitment to promoting the Nigerian brand and more specifically Yoruba culture especially through music. Music and language are two very important elements of every culture, hence by promoting Juju, Fuji and traditional Yoruba drumming, we are not just promoting Yoruba music or the talented acts that have been unveiled here today, but the beautiful culture of the Yoruba people.â€
An excited Ayodele Olatunji, a National Diploma certificate holder from the Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti, could not hide his joy. He said: â€œThis is the opportunity of a lifetime and I give glory to God for this win. It didnâ€™t come by my power. I just want to appreciate God and Goldberg Lager Beer for this great opportunity. With this N2 million, I will buy some of the music instruments needed for my shows and make significant change in the life of my family.â€
In addition to the beautiful performances by the contestants, there were also several scintillating performances by Fuji and Juju greats. Juju maestro King Sunny Ade reminded all why for decades he had remained active in the music scene with a masterly delivery of several of his evergreen Juju songs. Not to be outdone, Fuji Lords K1 The Ultimate, King Osupa Saheed, Taye Currency all represented the Fuji genre well with exceptional performances that got the audience raving as they engaged them in an endless sing-along.
â€œWe live for nights like this: beautiful music, beautiful people, smiling faces, cash prizes to reward excellence, a promise of a very bright future for the new talents discovered here and of course an endless supply of Goldberg Lager beer. I am impressed by the quality of talent displayed by the music acts discovered in Ariya Repete 2018 and canâ€™t wait to see them excel in the music scene out there,â€ said Emmanuel Agu, Portfolio Manager, Mainstream Lager and Stout, Nigerian Breweries Plc.
The event was witnessed by Oyo State Commissioner of Information, Arts and Culture, Mr. Tayo Arulogun, Special Assistant to the Oyo State Governor on Youth and Sport, Mr. Bolaji Repte, Nollywood stars including Yemi Solade, Sanyeri, Wakili, Adedamola Olatunji, Dele Fagboyo and Odunlade Adekola who anchored the event.
Ariya Repete 2018 which started in Abeokuta with a roundtable discussion involving key stakeholders in the music, art and culture sector is an initiative of Goldberg Lager Beer, a product of Nigerian Breweries Plc. It is a yearly talent hunt competition that aims to discover, develop and promote talents in the indigenous Yoruba music of Fuji and Juju genres, including drums.