From dancing queen to electric boogie, what’s going on, acknowledgement…
How do you measure the glory of a melody? A chord? A hook or harmonic convergence?
The answers to these questions are best captured in My Kind of Music, a session in the ongoing Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Festival of Arts, which held at the Agip Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Lagos, on Thursday, October 18, 2018.It was an enchanting evening with high networth celebrities going on musical journey through time. In two hours, they made impeccable statements with their choices.
The four guests — publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru; telecoms executive and founder of Lagos Jazz Series, Oti Bazunu, arts entrepreneur Ugoma Adegoke and lawyer Adeyemi Akinsanya — shared songs reflecting their experiences, memories and philosophies at the session moderated by Kitoyi Ibare-Akinsan.
At the event, MUSON, known majorly for orchestra, choir, music recitals and jazz events that cater for elite music sensibility, opted for songs that cut across time and social strata. Their choices corresponded with certain chord patterns, rhythms and tonal characteristics.
The panelists spun songs from genres such as, classical, jazz, reggae, pop highlife and afrobeat. The music selection from each guest was not only different, but reflected his or her age. However, one thing stands out: the songs were a reminder that childhood, youth, birth and death are all contained in the soundtracks of life.
The guests introduced their selections with anecdotes and asides and the audience lolled their heads to evocative lyrics as contained in the music. They showed a sign of intelligence, not just because they had a wide, eclectic taste, but a sign of intellectual curiosity, open mindedness and a willingness to absorb new ideas.Lady Alex-Ibru, having experienced the swinging ‘60s and roaring ‘70s, took her guests through an evening of wonderful experience in Old School music. She started with the ‘70s Swedish superstars, Abba’s song, Dancing Queen.
For the media owner, “the essence of music is to liberate your soul from those hidden things that you can’t express.” Thus, more than 80 per cent of all songs are love stories, songs that explore ‘human relationships.’“Don’t be surprised if my music tonight ends up in one love song or the other.”
The other song from Abba, Winner takes all, was more than a ‘catchy’ piece of songcraft. It provided a surge of sublimity. Though, hugely popular, Abba was underappreciated, because of their songs, which many described as pandering to romantic dreams of women.During the’ 70s, they were the soaring expression of female consciousness in pop music, bridging the gap between the girl groups of the Motown ’60s (The Marvelettes, The Supremes (Diana Ross & The Supremes), Martha and the Vandellas, and the Velvelettes) and the rise of Madonna, who revolutionised the industry in the early ’80s.
Lady Alex-Ibru also went for the sweet velvety voice of Frank Sinatra. The song choice was New York, New York. Although many people associate this song with Sinatra, it was actually Liza Minnelli who sang it in the 1977 film of the same name, which was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Minnelli and Robert De Niro as musicians and lovers. Sinatra’s version was released on his 1980 triple album, Trilogy: Past, Present and Future, which was highly acclaimed and brought the singer back in the public eye. “New York, New York” quickly became one of Sinatra’s signature songs.
The song popularised New York as the “City that never sleeps,” which Lady Ibru confirmed with her recent visit to the city.The Guardian publisher also chose, All I Ask of You, from the Phantom of the Opera and spoke about the usefulness of musicals in teaching children to play music. She, however, pointed out, “don’t discriminate against anyone, who has disability, what matters is the character of the person.”
Lady Alex-Ibru shared her love for Michael Jackson. She selected the King of Pop’s Heal the world, which harped on the need to help the sick and needy to make this world a better place to live. She opted for Timi Dakolo’s Iyawo Mi as her seventh selection for the evening. All her songs elicited glitzy flamboyance and dance moves. For Bazunu, the founder of the Lagos Jazz Series Festival, who played jazz music, “whatever your music preference, you must love music, not like it.”
Bazunu reminded the audience of the treachery of humans when you’re penniless by playing Nina Simone’s Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.Other songs selected by him include, Whitney Houston’s rendition of The Lord is my Shepherd by Cissy Houston with Hezekiah Wailer and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir, Miles Davis’ So What, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and John Coltrane’s Acknowledgement.
Adegoke veered away, choosing to play some hip-hop music to the festival’s audience. She shared mostly contemporary music. She went from P.M Dawn’s I’d die without you to Romanza by Adrea Bocelli, Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve and Tony Allen’s No Discrimination.Headlining her selection was Mary J Blige’s Sweet Thing, which she said was better than Chaka Khan’s 1975 original. (The song was vocalised by Chaka Khan, but credited to both Khan and the American band Rufus.) Adegoke waxed a little on the song’s lyric concerned with loving someone whether or not they stay.
While Akinsanya opted for art music, he seemed to be more comfortable with George Handel. The lawyer, whose encounter with Ayo Bankole defined his art music preference, had two of Handel’s The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and Zadok the Priest.The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba led the lawyer to wonder about the majesty of King Solomon meeting the queen.
“A great queen meeting the great king,” he said. Zadok the Priest has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since. It was even used for the coronation of Elizabeth II. The text is taken from a passage in the King James Bible, which described the anointing of Solomon. It is a translation of the traditional antiphon Unxerunt Salomonem, which has been used in every English, and later British, coronation since 973 – when Edgar was anointed king at Bath Abbey.
It was Handel’s first composition as a British citizen. Akinsanya also chose Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro to close his selection and spoke about its use in Tom and Jerry. He added that the famous Chinese pianist Lang Lang credits the cartoon as his inspiration for taking up classical music (The episode featured Franz Liszt’s ‘Hungarian Rhapsody Number II’.) and Aretha Franklin’s cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water.
The session ended with Lady Alex-Ibru choosing Marcia Griffiths’ Electric Boogie. “I dance, I move. It makes me happy,” she said. Adegoke joined her, as did four other women, who went on ‘electric slide’. Their expression of joie de vivre revealed that a love of music of all kinds implies a love of creativity, actively seeking out new ideas and the ability to appreciate different ideas.