BY CHUKS NWANNE
The publicity drive for official launch of her debut album, Keep Moving, was massive, especially online, where some lucky members of her facebook group won complementary invitation cards to the event. Everyone looked forward to the day; even the artiste had a sort of countdown to the show online.
To many, the venue of any launch and the quality of artistes on parade, to a large extent, give an insight to the strength of the host artiste. Little wonder Onos Bikawei opted for the prestigious Grand Ball Room, Eko Hotel & Suites for her launch, with notable artistes such Timi Dakolo and Eric (of Idols West Africa), Lara George, Sammie Okposo, Efe and others on parade. The expectation was high.
As at 4pm on the D-day, guests had started arriving one by one, group by group, with a special red carpet reception. Before long, the hall was full with friends, colleagues, celebrities and family members of the artistes, with her parents seated at a strategic part of the hall–– not too far from the stage, which was jam-packed with all sorts of musical instruments; it was a live show.
Her producer, Flo, alongside some notable artistes, including Sammie Okposo, who arrived the venue in the company of actress, Ufuoma Ejenobor, cornered another part of the hall to themselves. The likes of Timi Dakolo and Eric preferred strolling up and down in expectation, as guests awaited the appearance of Onos. The turnout was impressive.
The live band ensured there was no dull moment, until the anchormen; MC Abbey and Steve Onuh (Yaw of Wazobia FM) took charge of the stage. Abbey was at his best, reeling out jaw-dropping jokes, while Yaw, the broadcaster he is, kept him under control; the comedian touched almost every aspect of the country, even the ailing president formed part of his materials.
ONOS’s first appearance was greeted with rounds of applause and cheers from the audience. She made her way to the stage through the back door, clutching a microphone with both hands. Dramatically, she took time to exchange pleasantries with guests, shaking and waving hands to her fans. But to her parents, she gave hugs. You need not ask how happy the young lady was after months of working on the album; it was written all over her face.
Her stage performance was energetic, with the band backing up on instrumentation. From slow to fast beat, Onos held the gathering spellbound. “She’s different,” a guest observed. Yes, the difference is clear in her compositions and vocals strength. She was in full control of the band, keeping eye contact with her band members at every point.
Timi, Lara, Eric, Sammie Okposo, Efe and other raised the tempo of the night with their electrifying performance, but Onos’ Dance, one of the tracks in the new work, was the attraction; the reception was huge. The likes of Sammie and Flo, could not hold back too long as they were caught digging it live on stage with Onos, who treated the guests to the best of her music.
“Bringing out this album was very challenging,” Onos says. “I funded the whole project myself because I had no sponsor. There’s competition out there, so, to be on top of my game, I had to do something that people could easily relate to. If you listen to Dance, I started with English and at some point, switched to pidgin, before wrapping up in my local dialect. If you don’t listen to the words properly, you might not even know it’s a gospel track.”
TO make the best out of the album, Onos involved Flo and ID Cabassa, who also feature in one of the tracks, in the production.
“I spent sometime putting together this album because I wanted a quality production. I decided to work with tested hands to achieve desired result.”
On the choice of Cabassa, who is noted for making secular beats, Onos says, “it was deliberate; I wanted to achieve a mixture of sounds, so, I needed people who could interpret sounds in their own unique way; producers have their strengths, but If you know I D Cabassa, then you will understand that he doesn’t do just any job.”
To the Waffarian, the choice of Keep Moving as the title for the work featuring Lara George, Mike Aremu and others, is deliberate.
“When you have dreams, you have to be very passionate about it; you need to push for it. I settled for the title just to let people know that they should keep moving in realising their dreams.”
Though a gospel work, Onus observed that, “people tend to lay rules for artistes, but to me, it’s a form of expression. Gospel is about sending good messages. We might want to say the same thing, but we have different ways of doing just that. When you hear Keep Moving, it means don’t stop; live your dreams, do what God has called you to do and be the best the best that you can.”
As for inspiration, “different things inspire me to write songs. There is a song in the album titled I Don Tire to Dey Waka Waka; I wrote that song after producers had turned me down several times. Different events and situations inspire me to write my songs.”
Though Onos started singing in the church at the tender age of six, her professional career in music took off in 2006, when she started performing at events. By 2008, the French graduate from the Delta State University, recorded her first single, Dance, which is currently enjoying airplay on radio and TV stations across the country.
As for her debut album, which is already on music shelves, Onos is leaving that to the general public to judge.
“I don’t want to start blowing my trumpet now. So far, the response has been very fantastic and I am confident it will be something different. But it’s left for people to listen to it and make their comments.”
One-on-one with F-STINCT
Born Olufunmilayo Modupe George, the Microbiology graduate of the University of Agriculture Abeokuta, is out to make a mark with her gospel hip-hop, fused with rap, R&B, dancehall and a bit of highlife. Popularly called F-STINCT on the music scene, Funmi, who is currently working on her debut album, The Quest, speaks to DANIEL ANAZIA on her plans to pass the message of Jesus Christ to the young generation through her music.
How was it like growing up?
Growing up was fun because I have a close-knit family. I’m the first girl and second child in a family of five –– two girls and a boy. I’m a Lagosian, but was born in Ibadan . My formative years, was in the ancient town of Ibadan , though I proceeded to Abeokuta for my higher education.
How it did you get into music?
We are musically inclined in my family; everyone in the family has unique musical ability that stands him/her out. My dad, mum and siblings have natural music abilities. I started singing from a very tender age; I was involved in various musical groups both within and outside the church. While I was at UNAAB, I was a member of a four-man group, The Revelators. It was a gospel hip-hip group and we performed within and outside the campus.
What is your style of music?
I’m a hip-hop artiste; I do more of gospel hip-hop, R&B, and rap. I intend exploring a variety of other musical styles by infusing different beats and genres into my own style. The aim is to develop my creativity. When I say different beats, I mean highlife, dancehall and other beats, which I’m working on right now.
Any major concert/performance so far?
Not really mega events like The Experience, MTN Music Festival and others, but I’ve performed at the DJ Gosporella’s Mixtape, Combo Phonix Jamz, One-Stick Music Concert and so many church appearances.
Your upcoming album, The Quest, what is it all about?
Our society is filled with so much moral decadence, especially among the youths. I intend to reduce this through my kind of music by passing on the gospel of Jesus Christ to this generation in a way the youth will understand it. It is also a pursuit of an ambition. All these immoralities such as prostitution, armed robbery, drug trafficking… are geared towards the ‘get rich-quick’ syndrome, which is common among Nigerian youths today. Shortcut and straight-forwardness are two parallel lines that can never meet.
So, when is it hitting music shelves?
It’s going to be a 9-track work, but with lots of varieties. It will be in the market before the third quarter of the year. We are seriously working on it and when it finally comes, it’s going to be a bomb.
Who are your influences?
…The likes of Kirk Franklin, Cece Winnas and Cross Movement influence me a lot. Trigga, MC Loph, Willisino are my pals in the industry.
What would you want to be remembered for?
(Laughs), with the help of God, I hope to build a lasting career in music, especially in gospel genre. Through my message, I want to influence the youth positively. I also hope to set up a non-governmental organisation that will focus on the youths with unique talents, nurture and help bring them to limelight. I will like to have a standard gospel Nite Club, where Christians could hangout like we have in conventional clubs.
From Left: Keffe, Bouqui, Omawunmi and Annie at the event
Keffe, Omawunmi, Bouqui, Anne shine in UK
Nigeria was on the spotlight last week in the UK – this time, in a positive news - as three of her female artistes outshined their counterparts from other African countries at the Women In Entertainment & Arts (WIEA) Awards, held at Marriott Hotel, 22 Hertsmere Rd, Canary Wharf, London.
Idols West Africa’s Omawunmi got the award for Best Singer, while Annie was presented with the Best Gospel award. Rapper Bouqui was declared Best Rap Artiste, while Branama Queen, Keffe, clinched the Best Musician award at the event organised to raise fund in support of the Kanu Heart Foundation and Breast Cancer Care.
In a brief online chat with Life magazine, Keffe, who’s yet to jet into the country, was full of joy.
“I feel great and I’m happy things are turning out for me this way. I dedicate the award to my fans all over the world; na who know me before,” she sings.
Organised by WIEA, the award was instituted to encourage African female artistes for their contribution to the entertainment industry. This year’s edition, which had the Super Eagles Captain, Kanu Nwanwo and other dignitaries in attendance, featured performances from Keffe, Bouqui, Omawunmi and others.
Soundcity in early preparation for SMVA 2010
Nigeria’s foremost lifestyle, music and entertainment TV channel, Soundcity, has commenced preparation for this year’s edition of Soundcity Music Video Award (SMVA). Billed for October 1 (Independence Day), at the new Exhibition Hall, Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, the ceremony is being organized as part of activities to mark the country’s Golden Jubilee.
Billed to open at 6pm, with a special red carpet reception, dovetailing into the awards proper, the award will also feature Winners Concert, expected to last into the early hours of the previous day.
“We are committed to the recognition of the efforts of artistes, video producers and directors, whose strengths and abilities have been able to put Nigerian and African music videos on a global pedestal, helping the Soundcity channel maintain our reputation of adding value to life with the power of music,” said Tajuddeen Adepetu, Executive Producer of SMVA, and Chief Executive Officer of Consolidated Media Associates, Soundcity’s parent body.
He continues: “As you very well know, Soundcity is the 24-hour urban lifestyle channel, dedicated all the time with music videos, lifestyle content and interactive programming that is influenced by the viewers; and it is Nigeria’s premier medium that represents a repertoire of encompassing music videos - as far as it is music and it is good to someone’s eyes as it is to the ears”.
Activities kick-starting the 2010 edition of the Soundcity Music Video Awards are to be announced soon.
D’banj partners Mouka on Koko mattress
Foam-manufacturing company, Mouka has entered into partnership with D’banj; the two brands entered a commercial arrangement to leverage on each other.
Under the arrangement, Mouka is expected to produce beautifully branded Koko mattresses with Dbanj’s hit tracks written all over it. The company, on its part, promised that the mattress would come with all the trappings of the Mouka brand behind it, which include quality and durability.
Speaking after the ceremony, Adebajo described the arrangement as a win-win partnership, adding that Mouka will bring its time tested technological base into play.
“D’banj is a role model and a businessman who has focus and a vision for tomorrow. He’s an upwardly mobile figure in the entertainment industry that will find Mouka’s years and wealth of experience beneficial.
Dbanj revealed he had waited for long before the deal pulled through, commending Mouka for their support and understanding.
“The idea of producing Koko mattress came as I was researching on ways of reaching the youths in the country and letting them know that they can become anything they choose to be in life. I remember when I was in secondary school; I used to change my mattress every term. That was how the idea came to me before I approached Mouka for partnership.”
Dbanj said, “a good rest on Koko mattress after a hard day at school, will ensure that students wake up fresh the next day and I have Mouka to thank for that.”
Nneka goes to Jazzhole
MOBO Award winner, Nneka Eguna, will on Friday, March 12, perform live at the Jazzhole, 168 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. Billed to start at 7pm with N5000 gate fee, the evening will see Nneka entertain the gathering with her full band; for sure, Nneka is a live artiste.
In February 2008, the Germany-based-Nigerian-artiste, released a follow-up to her debut album, No Longer at Ease, a title she borrowed from a novel of the same name by Chinua Achebe and reflects the lyrical content of the record. Most of the songs are political, talking about the plight of the Niger Delta and the corruption in Nneka’s homeland. The songs are a mixture of soul, hip-hop and reggae.
However, the lead single from the work, Heartbeat, became her first song to break into the German Top 50. By September 2009, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at number 20, while the following months saw the Anambra State native tours France, Italy and Portugal; she also supported Lenny Kravitz on his French tour in April 2009.
Nneka got three nominations at the 2009 Channel O Music Video Awards, though she lost all. But the big one came when she was awarded Best African Act at the 2009 MOBO Awards.
For those, who plan to attend, expect Nneka’s usual yabis; maybe, not too far from what she displayed at the Ion International Film Festival held last year in Port Harcourt–– she said it as it is!