Monday, May 25, 2009

Gospel Music In Nigeria.

Gospel music as it is played and recorded today in Nigeria cannot be called a particular music genre because it cut across different musical styles. The only unifying thing is the lyrics,which is based on the bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. In other words,we have highlife gospel,Afro gospel,Juju gospel,Reggae gospel,Jazz gospel etc.
The origin of commercial gospel music recording in Nigeria could be traced to the city of Aba in the south eastern Nigeria,where numerous gospel artistes and bands were recording and selling their records by themselves. Some of these records were hits, but because of the unprofessional way they were packaged the artistes were not popular but their songs were known and sung in the churches. This problem of poor identification of the gospel artistes still persists today, especially in Aba/Onitsha axis of the country.
By the mid 1970s some singing groups such as the Agape Band and the Voice Of The Cross became very popular at the national level. The Voice Of The Cross album 'Satan Is In Trouble' released on Polygram Records label was a commercial success. In the mid 1980s there were some gospel artistes that recorded hit albums,these included Patty Obasi and Laurine Okotie.
In 1992, a former liberation singer Sonny Okosun stormed the Nigerian music scene with a gospel album titled 'Songs Of Praise' and followed up with another one titled 'Songs Of Praise II'. These albums relased on Ivory Music label were commercial successes and their highly dancable tunes and catchy choruses appealed to the Nigerian music lovers irrespective of their religious inclinations and affliations. This style of gospel music became so popular that countless number of artistes jumped into gospel music and with the proliferation of churches in the country there is currently a boom in the gospel music industry in Nigeria.

Emeka E. Okeke

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Reggae music was imported to Nigeria from Jamica. It has its roots in the ska music genre of the Caribbean Islands. By early 1970s Jamican reggae music and its associated rastafari ideology started to flood the Nigerian shores via the recordings of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Max Romeo, U-Roy, Black Uhuru, Eric Donalson, Soya Spence and others.
These Jamican artistes were philosophical in their lyrics and their messages range from the emancipation of the black race, love, to man inhumanity to man,especially the apartheid system then practised in South Africa. This endeared them to the hearts of Nigerian music lovers.
The influence of reggae music became so enormous that some Nigerian artistes started to record reggae albums. Sonny Okosun's hit album 'Fire In Soweto' which was a collaboration with a Jamican musician Eddy Grant was released by EMI Records in the mid 1970s. This album was so successful that it opened the gate for Nigerian artistes to rush into reggae music.
By the early 1980s, Tera Kota's album 'Lamentation For Sodom' released on Twilight Records label became a big hit and won him an award in far away United States Of America. A reggae group called 'SWEAT' came up with a hit album 'Taxi Driver' which was actually a reggae version of Bobby Benson's highlife hit song.
Evi Edna Ogholi then came up with a debut titled 'My Kind O f Music' and it was a smash hit. Orits Wilikki's albums 'Coleman Revolutionaire' and 'Conqueror' were all hits. Another group called 'MANDATORS' also recorded two hit albums 'Crisis' and 'Rat Race' all released on Polygram Records. Ras Kimono's two albums released on Polygram Records were big hits.
However, the biggest Nigerian reggae hit came in 1987 when Tabansi Records released Majek Fashek's album 'Prisoner Of Conscience' which included a smash hit track 'Send Down The Rain'. This song became a sort of national anthem in Nigeria then and brought great fame and fortune to this ex-Jastix Band guitarist.
There were other reggae artistes who made some impact in the 1980s though they had only few recordings to thier credits, these include Andy Shoreman, Isaac Black, Oby Nwankwo and Alex Zito.
By early 1990s, root reggae started to give way for a new reggae style called ragga. Daniel Wilson brazed the trail with his hit album 'Mr. Raggamuffin' released on Ivory Music label. Bkacky followed suit with his debut album 'About Time' released on Premier Music label and it was a hit. A score of other artistes followed suit and by mid 1990s Daddy Showkey and Baba Frayo both of who grew up in a Lagos slum called Ajegunle brought new innovations into the Nigerian reggae music by adding some Nigerian cultural rhthym to it.
The efforts of Baba Frayo and Daddy Showkey yielded good fruit as 'Denge Pose' an album by Baba Frayo released on Ifinity Merchant label became a super hit and a slang used in most cities of Nigeria. On the other hand, Daddy Showkey's second album 'My Name' released on Felin Records label was very successful and the hit track 'Diana' became a household song in both urban and rural areas of Nigeria.
To be continued later.

Emeka E. Okeke