Monday, 23 March 2009

For Acho, KORA is first step to Grammy

THIS Monday afternoon, I drive to a popular street in Surulere to keep a date with Onuoha Iheanacho aka Acho. At 3pm, I am at the door; I press the buzzer at the entrance. A tall, slim artiste with liquid eyes comes to the gate, I speak Acho’s name and I’m ushered in.
The house is warm and attractive. This is where Acho produces his vibes. His music factory, not necessarily his apartment.
Several years ago, the young Acho had walked down the street of Owerri, trying to create a ‘new world’ in the studio. But the time, for him, was not then. However, by the time he became more mature, the ‘new world’ surged like adrenaline.
He tells me winning the Grammy Awards is uppermost in his mind. Definitely not the KORA Awards. Not that he doesn’t have any regard for the KORA, but the fact that he set a ceiling for his achievements in the next few years.
On April 11, Acho says one leg of his dream would have been realised. He muses, “I tell everybody, who cares to listen that I’m going to win KORA Award.”
What the heck gives him such confidence?
He smiles, “the song is beautiful and you won’t know when you begin to listen to it over-and-over because it gets your attention — the highly meaningful lyrics.”
He adds, “I have a 13-track album, which is marketed by Soprime Music, Lagos. One of the tracks, The Only One, is on KORA list for this year.
I think I should have the Award, by the grace of God. I’m so convinced I will do so.”
Acho is in his elements, as he zeroes in on his career rise. My involvement with music started quite early. My dad likes it, and I must say, I got the talent from him. When we were growing up, we had guitar, piano, so, I grew up playing those instruments at home. My sister first started, before I picked it up.”
He adds, “she actually took me to the studio. She used to work with Johnny Cross in the late 80s, probably in 1989. I was 14 then.”

IN his late 20s, Acho first received the Holy Grail from his father, when the old man saw that his son was all music. He drawls, “dad just said, ‘I’m going to let you do what you want to do, but you have to get the education’.”
He pauses and breathes heavily, “the first song I recorded was That Morning. I was trying to think of something, create a story about an incident that morning and things started going wrong until a friend turned things around.”
“There were no computers then; so, we used to record live instrument. There were no CDs. Just tapes.”
The sixth-born of his parents, Acho says, “in those early days, I used to send out my CDs and my songs for reviews. I have the following people, who have reviewed my songs such as David Musial, of One World Artists in New York, and Yoel Kenan former A and R boss of BMG Records, UK.”
He adds dutifully, wearing a smile thatis effectious.“I had several other songs but I slowed down because I had to follow dad’s counsel.”
He says with a resigned shrug, “I didn’t do anything but I was writing songs till 2000. Not on a commercial basis. In 2001, I graduated as a petroleum engineer, and I was still recording. When I came to Lagos from Port Harcourt, I started full time music.”
He recalls, “while I was working, I recorded some songs with Romantic Rolly. A British lyricist, Jim Blake, wrote most of the songs I recorded with him. I recorded another with Paul Runz, who incidentally, produced Faze’s record. The name of the track is One in A million. After that, I got a deal with a record label in the US GotBeats Records in Detroit, Michigan. I was able to release my first record under the ground, Yahoo, MSN, NAPSTER, E-music, CD Baby, High Tunes and a lot of online distributors. While this was going on, I was recording more songs and doing videos.”
In 2007, he recorded the song, The Only one, which was produced by Papa Ken. He also produced a second hit track, Take Away, in that album. And shot the video too. In 2008, he was involved in Kanu Foundation’s project, which had Obiwon, OJB and many other artists.

IN March 2008, KORA called for submission of songs, which he did, while in October 2008; he was nominated for Best African Artiste in the Caribbean. For the April 11, KORA Award, that’s the only Nigerian in the category.
On December 31, he had a show at the Dan Anyiam Stadium for the government, where I performed alongside Naeto C, Ikechukwu, African China, Kelly Handsome, J Martins and Nig.Ga Raw.
So why Caribbean music?
He laughs, “I love Caribbean music. I try to blend pop music with it, to give a new flair. MC Anthony has always been a great influence. I’ve always wanted to do a crossover; nothing restrictive, especially about what we do here. My greatest ambition is to be nominated and winning the Grammy, which I’m on the road to doing.”
For the Otulu Amumara in Ezinihitte, Mbaise Local Council of Imo State-born artiste, who had his education at the University of Port Harcourt, where he read Petroleum Engineering and graduated in 2005 and his secondary education in Boy’s Secondary School, Azaraegbelu, Emekuku, Owerri, Imo State, “the music industry is growing and the quality is good. Now you can make a living as an artiste. I’m so sure very soon, we will be competing with Americans for the Grammy Awards.”

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