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At 60, drums roll for Sir Shina Peters

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When my parents were telling me to go to secondary school, I said no. If I had rich parents that could take care of my younger ones, and myself, maybe I would have gone to school. But we were living in one room apartment; we shared the same toilet and bathroom with tenants like us. Those days, they used to put mat and my mother’s wrapper on the floor for me to sleep. Sometimes, they (my parents) had hot arguments to the extent that I won’t be able to sleep. So, I said to myself, Shina, you have to sacrifice to help your and be able to cater for your younger ones

As soon as the media briefing for the 60th birthday celebration of Afro juju music exponent Sir Shina Peters (SSP) ended, guests, including journalists, moved into the hotel’s restaurant for a lunch.Though the dinning room was filled with showbiz reporters, who were part of thesession, the real action was on the centre table where SSP sat in company of some of his good old friends. On that table were the likes of veteran broadcaster Prince Bisi Olatilo, who chairs the organizing committee for the anniversary gig. The likes of renowned promoter and CEO of The Lords promotions Ltd., Dr. Segun Okeowo; Vice Chairman of Peachtree Advertising, Gboyega Okegbenro; MD of Neo Media & Marketing, Ehi Braimoh; publisher of Yes International Magazine Azuh Arinze and other committee members were also there.

You needed to hear the conversations, jokes and banter coming from that centre table; it was a rare afternoon session for the ‘big boy.’ At intervals, they chorused some of SSP’s hits, as they relish memories.Though fully engaged with what looked like a tasty meal with drinks to go with it, Prince Olatilo in particular was the historian of the day, dishing out detailed accounts of his experiences with SSP, who he massively promoted during his active days as a broadcaster.

There were tributes from those, who know SSP beyond his stage life; the man has indeed touched many lives. In fact, Chris Kehinde Nwandu of CKN News had to abandon an ongoing seminar somewhere on the Island to join the session in Ikeja.“This guy,” he said, pointing at Shina Peters, “Even with his stardom, SSP left his doors open to friends, who were instrumental to his growth in the music industry; I won’t forget what his did for me. I recall an incident that happened in the past; I was to attend a sister’s wedding, but I didn’t have money to buy a cloth. Somehow, I just mentioned it to Shina Peters and he went into his house, brought out a new cloth he bought for himself and handed it over to me. No, Shina is a nice man,” he said excitedly, as they continued with their prolonged greeting.

Come Wednesday May 30, a special birthday party will be staged at The Balmoral Hall, Federal Palace Hotel & Casino, Victoria Island, Lagos, in hounour of juju music exponent Sir Shina Peters, who will be turning 60 on that day. The event, which kicks off at 5pm, is expected to be in two broad parts. First part, which is an interactive session with the theme, Dissecting The Phenomenon Called Shina Peters, will afford stakeholders in the music and showbiz industry an opportunity to give their perspectives about SSP’s sojourn in the industry that spans close to 50 years and still counting.

According to the committee, veterans in the industry, including Evangelist Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade, Sir Shina Peter’s producer of all time Laolu Akins and Chief Tony Okoroji will form part of the panel for the session. Generally, there will be so much to reminisce about the multitalented composer, actor and dancer, who came to limelight in the country’s showbiz industry at a tender age of 11.

Then there will be a Diamond Ball for SSP, which will feature performances by artistes such as Toyin Oguns, Dimeji Ayoka, Dele Taiwo and others. The evening, which will be spiced with comedy, will also witness the formal launch of Sir Shina Peters Foundation, which will focus on mentoring and empowering young music talents. For sure, the ever-energetic Shina Peters will perform live.

According to Prince Olatilo, the idea of setting up a committee of friends to organize the celebration of Shina Peters’ 60th Birthday Anniversary was mooted by a close friend of the musician Dr. Segun Okeowo. Another of SSP’s friends Gboyega Okeowo immediately embraced this idea and before long, it turned into a movement.“When the matter was placed on my table as a very close friend of Shina too, I met with a ready unequivocal acceptance. The committee, which has other members like Chief Dele Momodu, Mayor Akinpelu, Kunle Bakare, Azuh Arinze, Michael Effiong, Kunle Abesin, Senator Demola Adeleke and Clarence Peters, the iconic son of SSP, have been meeting in the last one-month at BISCON TV premises at Anthony Village,” Olatilo hinted.

Explaining why they’ve decided to celebrate SSP in a big way, Olatilo said, “The gesture is purely a friendly one to honour a good friend, who has, through his God given creative acumen, made all of us his friends and the entire country proud with ground breaking feats in the global landscape. It’s common knowledge that judging by his net worth in terms of intellectual property and humongous creative resources acquired many years ago, Shina Peters is a comfortable billionaire, who is more than capable of throwing for himself most expensive top grade party to celebrate this auspicious epoch in life; our is just a friendly intervention,” he said.

Young Shina Peters seized the momentum in 1989 with the release of his hit album Ace, from which he raked in double platinum with Ijo Shina, Shinamania, Give Our Women A Chance and other albums. His brand of music, which he dubbed Afro Juju, is a fusion of Juju and Afrobeat premised on fast percussion beat with the use of electric keyboard, saxophone and guitar has captured the imagination of all.

A multiple award-winning artiste, who has revolutionised the juju music scene, his music is loved even outside the shores of Nigeria, Africa, Europe and the US. Till date, the sound of his beats triggers excitement among adults, who witnessed his rise to fame.

“At 60, it feel like 40 for me,” Shina Peters said in a chat with Guardian Music. “Like I told you in the hall, at 60, you people are yet to see Shina Peters. In the industry, some people start closing down at 50 or 60, but for me, I’m about to open a new chapter in my career.”

Lamenting the state of the entertainment industry in Nigeria, the master guitarist, who is now committed to helping young talents develop their skills, said, “we don’t justify talents; we don’t recognise them. Intellectual property is yet to be known by everybody and if we don’t lecture them, who is going to do it? From now, it’s not what I’m going to gain in the industry anymore; it’s what I’m going to give back,” he said.

While many got involved with the music industry accidentally, Shina Peters’ case was entire different; music runs in the family. “My late mother was a member of the Cherubim and Seraphim choir; she was their leader. During her time, she got seven shields for singing. That’s why all of us (myself, Yomi Peters and Gbenga Peters) are singers today; we grew up with music,” he hinted.

Though he had no particular role model, late Afrobeat legend Fela Anikukapo Kuti had a huge influence on the young Shina, who was determined to carve a niche for himself.
“Honestly, from day one of my life, I’ve always believed in carving out an image for myself. However, my music idol is Fela Anikulapo Kuti anytime, any day; all that I am today, Fela taught me. Instrumentally, no, but more of life; he taught me to be rugged. Face your critics squarely and do justice to whatever they are criticizing you for; let the country hear your voice. The only way they can hear you voice is when you sing in English or pidgin; that’s the only way you can carry the audience along,” he said.

To a large extent, Shina Peters’ background played a vital role in his decision to quit school at a very tender age only to pursue a career in music; a time musicians were regarded, as ‘never do well.’“When my parents were telling me to go to secondary school, I said no. If I had rich parents that could take care of my younger ones, and myself, maybe I would have gone to school. But we were living in one room apartment; we shared the same toilet and bathroom with tenants like us. Those days, they used to put mat and my mother’s wrapper on the floor for me to sleep. Sometimes, they (my parents) had hot arguments to the extent that I won’t be able to sleep. So, I said to myself, Shina, you have to sacrifice to help your parents and be able to cater for your younger ones,” he recalled.

Shina started with Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey’s band, before he moved to Prince Adekule. He later formed partnership with Segun Adewale, but eventually resolved to set up his own band and created a brand of mjuysic he called Afro juju.

“I started playing with Ebenezer Obey at age 9, by the time I joined Prince Adekunle, I was 10 years old. When Prince Adekunle had accident, they were looking for a guitarist to replace him on the band; after the auditioning, they took me,” he said.On the concept of Afro Juju, Shina Peters said, “I started it for people like you so you can dance. I know that if not for Afro Juju music, you won’t dance Yoruba music,” he enthused.

On his albums, he said, “Everything is not Ace; Ace is different from Ijo Shina and Ijo Shina is different from Shinamania. Shinamania also is different from Dancing Time and Dancing Time is different from Experience. Experience is different from My Child and My Child is different from Mr. President. Sometime, when people want me to sing ‘Make Una Dance’, they will say, ‘sing Ijo Shina.’ But the truth is that they are all different alnum,” ne noted.

Unlike today, when most musicians release album yearly, Shina Peters was dropping album per season.“Ordinarily, my album is supposed to last for five years before I go back to the studio. In fact, thank God that we event took that decision of not always putting out album every Christmas, Ileya, Easter and other festive seasons; we decided to do once in a year. If any artiste in this country can boast of selling million copies in Nigeria today, Shina Peters started it. Before now, artistes would do just two minutes video for the promotion of their album; I was the one, who did the full video for both sides of the album and commercialised it.”

He continued: “Music is my legacy; that’s why I’m fulfilled. By current survey, 65 per cent of my fans are from the eastern region of Nigeria and that gives me joy,” he enthused.

For whatever he has been able to achieve in the music industry, SSP gives all the glory to God.“See, God is total; he doesn’t do something half way. When God want’s to make you, he finds a way to achieve it. Sometimes, it might be rough, but at the end of the day, you will find that God will never do a half job. Since morning, I’ve been close to tears, but I’ve been trying to hold it back. If not for God, who am I to sit beside you? The same recorder you are using to talk to presidents, the same thing you are using for me. Who am I,” he quizzed.


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Sir Shina Peters
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