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Ariya Repete… That our indigenous sounds may not go extinct

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Marketing Director, NBPlc., Franco Maggi Maria (left), Fuji Legend, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, 2018 Ariya Repete Fuji Category Winner Ashafa Olusola Martins, Portfolio Manager, Mainstream Lager And Stout Brands, Nbplc., Emmanuel Agu, Brewery Manager NBPlc. Ibadan, Ogundana Tayo, Sales Director, NBPlc., Uche Onigwe and Senior Brand Manager-mainstream Brands Nbplc., Funso Ayeni during the Grand Finale Of Goldberg Ariya Repete In Ibadan.

No doubt, the Nigerian music industry has exploded in recent times.

The hyper activities on the scene has, no doubt, upstaged the days of yore when local TV and radio stations feed the public with foreign songs, especially from the United States.

A period when the craze for foreign songs, which most listeners barely understood the lyrics or even make any sense out of them, were in vogue; everyone just played along.

Today, the story has changed; we’ve made noticeable impact with our music culture. From Ghana to Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zambia, South Africa, Congo… even across Europe and America, sounds from Nigeria are gradually making impact.

Interestingly today, music is no longer a lazy man’s hustle; it’s now one of the quickest springboards to fame and fortune for young people. Credit should go to the current crop of Naija artistes, who have succeeded in pushing our brand of hip-hop beyond boundaries with little or no input from government.

Though our music culture, which recently began to gain international recognition has evolved over the years, the advent of the Internet and social media revolutionised the global scene, thereby bringing entertainers closer to their audience.

Unfortunately, Nigeria’s indigenous sounds seem to have been left out in what could be described as ‘musical colonization of Africa.’ Aside from what some individuals were able to achieve through self-effort, there had not been any major interest in the promotion and propagation of these indigenous sounds.

Available records show that traditional music in Nigeria went commercial in the early 1900s and by 1910, popular musicians were already emerging into traditional genres such as Juju, Highlife, Apala, Afrobeat, Waka and Fuji and the rest.

Juju, as an indigenous music style, took shape in the early 1920s and got popularised by the likes of Tunde King and Irewole Denge. By 1950, other artistes such as Tunde Nightingale, J. O. Araba and C. A. Balogun came into the scene.

Fuji music is arguably one of the most dominant ethnic music in Nigeria today. It began as a modification to a certain type of original music that was rendered solely to wake Muslims up during the Ramadan fast in Nigeria. That original music was known as Ajisari or Were music.

Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister is considered the creator of Fuji music and was a former student of Jibowu Barrister, who was an Ajiwere music performer. According to Ayinde Barrister, Fuji music has a little bit of different genres such as Apala, Juju, Aro, Afro, Gudugudu and Highlife in its makeup.

In addition to the inspiration provided by these different music genres, Ayinde Barrister blended the beats of the Sakara Drum (a Yoruba musical instrument) and melodic outputs of foreign musical instruments as used by Juju and Highlife musicians in order to create the novel form of his music.

But over the years, Fuji music has gone through various improvisations that continue to influence the style and content of the genre. With the use of horns, strings and musical progression, Ayinde Marshall incorporated a unique melody into Fuji music.

At a time when Highlife and Juju were considered songs of the elite, Ayinde Marshall made efforts to broaden the appeal of the genre. He is arguably the most prominent Fuji musician alive and is seen as a mentor to most of the younger musicians – even those of other genres.

In a bid to preserve this rich Yoruba tradition and culture through music, as well as provide support for young talents in these genres, Nigerian Breweries Plc, through its Goldberg brand, recently conceived a music talent hunts competition tagged Goldberg Ariya Repete. The music project aims at developing drumming skills, juju and fuji music genres, while also rewarding up and coming talents.

Usually, Ariya Repete Roundtable, a yearly intellectual discourse that focuses solely on Yoruba music, set the tone for the talent hunt, which is now in its third edition.

The Roundtable seeks to promote a robust intellectual discourse among key stakeholders in the music industry including Fuji, Juju and Hip-hop musicians, music producers and record label owners, music enthusiasts, historians, art reviewers, critics and members of the academia.

Held on March 6, at the Park-Inn by Radisson, Abeokuta, this year’s roundtable, themed Evolution of Yoruba Traditional music and the influence on modern Nigerian pop culture, created a platform for stakeholders to dissect the Yoruba music and how it has impacted and continues to impact on the modern pop culture of Nigerians.

The keynote speaker at this year’s conference is Dr. Kola Adesina, Head, Department of Mass Communication of the Crescent University, Abeokuta, while an eminent group of panelists including Sir Shina Peter, Mr. Lekan Babalola, Mr. Muyiwa Osinaike, Prof. Olawole Fadipe, Wasiu Ayinde – K1 Ultimate, Taye Currency, Jawon, Clement Ige, Wole Sorunke (MC Murphy), and Hakeem Adenekan, complemented the team.

Usually, Ariya Repete Traditional Music and Drums Talent Hunt proper starts with audition. This year, the selection process was held in eight cities, including Sango Ota, Ogun State, Ado Ekiti, Akure, Lagos, Ilesha, Ilorin, Ibadan and Oyo, where several contestants came to slug it out for a place in the quarterfinals of the competition. In the end, 52 winners emerged.

The artistes and groups had in the first and second round of auditions impressed the judges with their talents and craftsmanship. The Panel of judges were then able to make the final selection of artistes, who qualified for the quarterfinal. The successful contestants then entered the Ariya Repete Academy where they went through mentorship and grooming from experienced musicians and managers.

The panel of judges in Ota, who screened the qualifiers were Juju musicians, Wale Thompson of Lalale Friday fame, Adebayo Faleke, radio broadcaster, Alhaji Sikiru Kolotiti Agboola, Alhaji Kabir Kehinde Akanni popularly known as Baby Barrister, Dele Bravo and Babatope Temidayo popularly known as Puffy-Tee.

The Juju artistes selected in Sango ota, Ogun State are: Prince Ade Michael who came 1st, while Bukola Ahmed came in second place. Also, Oriade Calypso came 1st, closely followed by Sulaimon Ajao in the 2nd position and Mohammed Adewale came 3rd in the Fuji category.

Meanwhile in the drumming category, Igba-Iwase Group came 1st while the Eniafe Group came 2nd.

In Ado Ekiti, Ayodele Olatunji came 1st in the Juju category, closely followed by Adeyemi Ase who came 2nd. In the Fuji category, Gbenga Adeyeye came 1st, Saheed Aremu 2nd and followed by Olayemi Kehinde who came 3rd. Meanwhile, in the Drummers Category the Ayangbayi Group came 1st and the Alofuge Group came 2nd behind them.

In Oyo, Sadeeq Ishola won the Fuji category followed closely by Taiwo Suleiman while Luqman Ishola came third. In the Juju category, Femi Ayeni and Sunny Adura booked their places in the quarterfinal.

In Akure, Dauda Muritala won the Fuji category while Oladele Damilola and Osoba Adeshina came second and third respectively. In Juju, Amao Babatunde came first followed by Adebayo Adetayo. In the traditional drum category, Sekere Group came first with Sakuba Group coming second. All of them booked a space in the quarterfinal.

The winners then proceeded to the Quarter Finals held at Midas Arena, Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital where they slugged it out for spots. At the Ariya Academy in Ibadan, they were trained on Yoruba music instruments, Fuji and Juju music by some prominent Juju and Fuji musicians to help hone their musical skills.

In the end, 32 contestants progressed to the Semi Final stage held on May 4, at the National Syadium, Sururlere, Lagos. Some of the lucky contestants include Juju artistes Ayegbayo Oluwaseun, Akinlabi Johnson, Korede Daniel, Wale Bravo, Bukola Ahmed, Prince Ade Michael, Femi Bright, Adebayo Adetayo.

While those from the Fuji category are Ashafa Olushola Martins, Saheed Akangbe, Remilekun Olukotun, Mohammed Adewale, Ishola Ade Eric, Ode Ayomide, Suliamon Asibola Destiny, Olayemi Kehinde, Sodiq Ishola, Sulaimon Ajao, Adewale Oderinde, and Abiodun Olotu.

It was a touching moment during the Ariya Repete Semi Final Concert at the National Stadium Surulere, when Taiwo and Kehinde Alli popularly called Twinzobia mounted the stage to perform. Before they went on stage, Taiwo made a remark that got emotions high and gave them lots of cheers from music fans at venue.

According to the talented artistes, who sing Fuji and Juju with ease, winning the 2014 edition of#FujiToBam has impacted their lives in tremendous ways.

“Before we won the competition in 2014, we were not known at all and nobody gives us shows to play for. But since winning the #FujiToBam, everything has changed for good especially as Goldberg fulfilled their promise on time and the managers always ask for how they can further help our career. We thank them a lot,” Taiwo said.

Kehinde added that “Today, as Goldberg Ambassadors, we not only have a new status and better identity, but we also have our own instruments, personal house, our cars as well as other things this music has brought to us.”

The sand pitch of the National Stadium in Surulere went agog, as ace actor, Odunlade Adekola announced the 16 finalists selected by the Judges after a rigorous screening process which lasted hours on Friday, May 4th, 2018, in the semi-final round of Goldberg’s Ariya Repete 2018 talent hunt show.

The 32 up and coming acts, who slugged it out at the Lagos semi-final had emerged from a keenly contested quarter final round at Ado-Ekiti last week. Of this group, five Fuji musicians, five Juju musician and six traditional drummers progressed to the grand finale to compete for the N2 million cash prize for each category.

The successful contestestants includes Ayegbayo Oluwaseun, Bukola Ahmed, Ode Ayomide,Abiola Oloto, Asafa Oluwanisola, Wale Crown Femi Bright Ayotunde, Saheed Akande, Muhammed Adewale Sualimaon Ajao. The Drummers Group includes Ifesowapo, Sakuba, Oludare, Igabiwase, Bata of Africa, Eniafe.

Just as in the quarter-finals in Ado-Ekiti, where the audience were treated to beautiful performances of Fuji and Juju music by frontline musicians including the Ibadan-based Fuji Sensation Taye Currency who performed for three straight hours much to the delight of the raving fans, Lagos residents got a bigger dose of Yoruba music melodies, as top Yoruba musicians like Adewale Ayuba, Adekunle Gold, Taye Currency, Saheed Osupa and Sir Shina Peters all performed and thrilled music enthusiasts, who thronged the stadium for fun.

The ancient city of Ibadan came alive on Friday, May 11, for the grand finale of Goldberg’s Ariya Repete. And for Ashafa Olushola Martins, Ayodele Olatunji and members of Oludare Cultural Group, the day would forever remain indelible on the minds, as they emerged overall winners in the Fuji, Juju and Drumming categories.

The grand finale, which is a culmination of three months of displays of superb music talent by about 5000 up and coming acts across the southwest of Nigeria and Ilorin, an even more rigorous selection process by the Judges, held at the Trans Amusement Park.

For the Fuji category, only six contestants namely Ayomide Ode Omotola, Saheed Akangbe, Abiodun Saheed Oloto, Sulaimon Ajibola Destiny, Mohammed Adewale and Asafa Olushola made it to the final. Another four, Wale Crown, Bukola Ahmed, Ayodele Olatunji (a.k.a Femi Bright) and Ayegbayo Oluwaseun qualified from the Juju music category.

They were joined in the final by the six dance groups; Ifesowapo Cultural Group, Sakuba Cultural Group, Oludare Cultural Group, Igba Iwase African Entertainment Cultural Group and Eniafede Dance Group.

It was a blend of fun and serious business as all the finalists treated the audience to rich renditions of their severally rehearsed and composed songs. Their sonorous voices rent the night as the whole of Ibadan stood still for the performances of all the 16 budding artistes.

All sixteen finalists delivered very impressive performances making the selection of the eventual winners even tougher for the Judges. But in the end, three contestants, who stood out (Ashafa Olushola Martins, Ayodele Olatunji, and Oludare Cultural Group in their performances), were crowned.

Ashafa Olushola Martins got N2 million prize for emerging tops in the Fuji category, while Ayodele Olatunji a.k.a. Femi Bright also went home with N2 million cash prize after winning the Juju category.

Oludare Cultural Group, led by pregnant Olubunmi Sadiq, came first in the drumming category and won N1 million cash prize, while consolation prizes ranging from N1m to N250,000.00 were given to First and second runner ups in all the three categories.

Speaking to Journalists at the event, Franco Maggi Maria, Marketing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc said, “As Nigeria’s first indigenous brewery, our pro-Nigerian orientation is evident in our various initiatives.

The Ariya Repete Roundtable and Talent Hunt is a reflection of our commitment to promoting the Nigerian brand and more specifically Yoruba culture especially through music.

Music and Language are two very important elements of every culture, hence by promoting Juju, Fuji and traditional Yoruba drumming, we are not just promoting Yoruba music or the talented acts that have been unveiled here today, but the beautiful culture of the Yoruba people.”

An excited Ayodele Olatunji, a National Diploma certificate holder from the Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti could not hide his joy, as he said, “This is the opportunity of a lifetime and I give glory to God for this win.

It didn’t come by my power. I just want to appreciate God and Goldberg Lager Beer for this great opportunity. With this 2 million naira, I will buy some of the music instruments needed for my shows and make significant change in the life my family economic-wise.”

In addition to the beautiful performances by the contestants, there were also several scintillating performances by Fuji and Juju greats. Particularly, Juju maestro King Sunny Ade reminded all why for decades, he has remained active in the music scene with a masterly delivery of several of his evergreen Juju songs.

Not to be outdone, Fuji Lords K1 The Ultimate, King Osupa Saheed, Taye Currency all represented the Fuji genre well with exceptional performances that got the audience raving as they engaged them in an endless sing-along.

“We live for nights like this: beautiful music, beautiful people, smiling faces, cash prizes to reward excellence, a promise of a very future for the new talents discovered here and of course an endless supply of Goldberg Lager beer.

I am impressed by the quality of talent displayed by the music acts discovered in Ariya Repete 2018 and can’t wait to see them excel in the music scene out there,” said Emmanuel Agu, Portfolio Manager, Mainstream Lager and Stout, Nigerian Breweries Plc.


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