There was an influx of western popular music genres such as rock, rhthym and blues, funk, soul, country and disco into Nigeria in the 1960s. These musical styles appealed to the youth and the young musicians started to create their own music along these European and American pop styles. The result of this musical adventure was the development of a fusion called Afro Pop, which became a commercial success because of the variety of sound and dancable tunes it offered the Nigerian music lovers.
Bongos Ikwue brazed the trail with his band 'The Groovies' and churned out some hits in the early 1970s such as 'I'm Still Searching' 'What's Gonna Be Is Gonna Be', 'Amen' and 'Cock Crow At Dawn' which was originally a sound track for Nigerian Television Authority's popular soap 'Cock Crow At Dawn'.
Bunny Mark, a bubbling young artiste stormed the Nigerian music scene with his hit track 'My Sweetie' in an album released on Tabansi Record label, which sold platinum in the mid 1970s. Other artistes such as Tony Gray and William Onyeabor also made great impact in the pop scene about this time. Some groups such as 'The Funkies', 'The Doves', 'Blo', and 'Cloud 7' all recorded hit afro pop albums in the 1970s.
In 1978 Chris Okotie, a university undergraduate took the Nigerian pop scene by a storm with his chart buster 'I Need Someone'. This album with its up-tempo beats was produced by Odion Iruoje and released on Phonodisc Record label, it was very successful in the market. Some other young artistes followed suit with this up-tempo style of afro pop and also made some hits, notable amongs them was Jide Obi who was Chris' roomate at the university. Jide Obi's two albums 'Kill Me With Love' and 'Front Page News' which were released on Tabansi Record label were national hits.
Other young artistes continued to experiment on afro pop and in 1981 Felix Liberty came up with a super hit album titled 'Lover Boy' which was produced by the late ace producer Jake Solo and released on Tabansi Record label. Chris Mba another afro pop star released his hit album 'Baby Don't Cry' on Rogers All Stars Record. Dizzy k. Falola,was another afro pop star who set the Nigerian dance halls aglow with his super hit 'Baby Kilode' released on EMI Record label in early 1980s.
There were also some female afro pop stars whose hit songs made great impact in the 1970s and 1980s pop scene in Nigeria.These include Christie Essien Igbokwe with a many hit songs including'Seun Rere', Oby Ifordu, Onyeka Onwenu with a super hit 'One Love', Oby Onyioha with a hit song 'Break It'. Stella Monye and Laurine Okotie also did some hit albums. Charlie Boy, Mike Okri, Alex O and the late Tina Onwudiwe also made some impacts in the Nigerian pop scene especially in the late 1980s.
To be continued.
Emeka E. Okeke