Why I’m in support of my son’s music career
Recently to the amazement of many Nigerians, the son of the renowned economist and former governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Prof. Charles Soludo, Ozonna made a debut in the music industry with his hit album. In this interview with SAMSON EZEA, Soludo spoke about his son’s choice, why he allowed him to venture into music industry.
Your son, Ozonna, has stormed the music world. How did you react when you discovered that he wanted to build a career in music?
At first, it sounded like a joke and we didn’t really take it seriously. He must have been about 11 or 12 years old when he started writing songs. I thought it was one of those children’s fantasies. Many children usually fall in love with all kinds of professions but end up with something totally different. Before long, we started seeing his postings on social media, songs on ‘Myspace’, etc. He literally spent much of his pocket money buying musical instruments and soon his room became a sort of mini studio.
We generally encourage our children to be free thinkers but honestly I thought music was just his hobby. It was during his A-levels studies in London that we faced the reality that music was his passion. Music was not one of his subjects at A-levels, but he was writing songs and started performing at some events in London.
My wife and I came around to the reality but tried to encourage him to proceed to obtain a Ph.D. in music. He asked whether the PhD was just to make us happy or to advance his career, and insisted that he did not need a PhD in music to excel. We knew we had lost the argument. He chose instead to go to the London Institute of Contemporary Music. One could literally touch his passion for music and we decided to also fall in love with his career. So far, so good!
So, are you at home with his choice of career?
Sure! I am very much at home with it and I fully support him. Don’t forget, it is his life, not mine. I made my choice and live with it—for better or for worse. He has chosen his, and my job is simply to support and pray for him. I often find it funny when people ask me: “why did you allow him to go into music?” I often answer by retorting: ‘Is it for me to choose or for him to choose his career?’
A fundamental mistake we make as parents is that we live our lives and also insist that our children live our own lives and not theirs. This is one of the reasons many people simply end up as mediocres because they end up in professions they have little or no passion for. They struggle for the rest of their lives. As I mentor younger ones, my first advice always is to follow your passion. Many people are in the universities studying courses imposed upon them by their parents and the rest of their lives are wasted struggling to cope.
One of Nigeria’s best photographers, TY Bello told me a fascinating story of how she studied Economics in her first degree, but dumped it to go for a short training in photography. She is lucky that she discovered the ‘mistake’ and made corrections early enough. Millions are busy living other people’s lives and not theirs. So, my point is that parents should encourage their children to discover their passions and follow through, helping them with as much information as possible to make informed choices and not choose their careers for them based upon our own subjective preferences. Nine out of 10 cases, it ends up a disaster for the child.
If he did not choose to be a musician, what else will you have loved him to do?
As I said earlier, it is not for me to choose his career for him: it is his life. My role, if any, is to advise or make suggestions based upon his manifest strengths. Quite early, Ozonna showed great strengths in arts, strong imaginations and creativity. If he had issues with choice of career and needed my advice, perhaps I would have wished that he lived out my own missed opportunity to be a lawyer. I had great difficulty choosing a subject to study in the university as each of my teachers in the secondary school tried to nudge me to study a course related to the subject he taught me. I really had great passion for Law (and didn’t like engineering or medicine) but my father’s rather superstitious views of lawyers discouraged me.
How would you describe his music and what do you like most about it?
Inspiring, timeless and beyond borders! He says his music is alternative pop. I don’t know much about the variants of pop but get attracted to the sound and message. His music is largely for matured minds and designed to inspire. Take the example of “Believe it to see it”.
How would you describe Ozonna as a son, and Ozonna as a musician?
That is a difficult one (laughs). Well, what can I say? Ozonna as a son is the true son of his father and I am very proud of him. That’s all I can say and I leave you to discover the rest by yourself. As a musician, I leave you to listen to some of his songs on soundcloud.com/Ozonna and form your opinion. He is working on his album and recently released four songs as ‘Expanded Play’ (EP). He has written more than 15 songs and like I said earlier, I will soon start my dancing lessons.
Why are children of prominent Nigerians going into music despite their background?
I am not really sure what you mean by that question. But let me make two quick points here. First, let me hazard a hypothesis that as the economic and educational attainment of a society rises, the choices broaden and certain so-called fringe professions become mainstream. For most people, especially in a poor society, the choice of career is essentially an economic decision. It is about survival: which course will I study and earn a good living so that I can help my parents, my siblings, etc? My guess is that once the parents have conquered those existential issues of food, shelter and education for the children, the children can then have the luxury of choice. When I was growing up, it was inconceivable for many of us to dream of becoming musicians or professional footballers.
I was a very good footballer, but we had to literally hide to play football. The pressure was for you to go to school, get a job and help your parents to train your younger ones. Football or music was considered “useless” as most people could not imagine how people could earn sustainable livelihood from any of them. Not anymore! So, my first point is that as economic circumstances improve, current and future generations have the liberty to choose and to follow their passions irrespective of whether or not such choices bring instant monetary gains.
Second, it is evident that the hitherto ‘fringe’ occupations are rapidly forming a critical component of the “new economy” with high rewards for those able to persevere and make the investment. I just read that our own 19 year-old Iheanacho of Man City is asking for 200,000 pounds a week as salary. Millions of Nigerians are glued to their TVs every week watching our footballers all over the world.