Highlife legend, Rex Lawson reincarnates at music confab
THE University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State of Nigeria made history Wednesday, last week when it set the pace with the institution of a “Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson Chair in Music” – culminating in the first Rex Lawson International Highlife Conference and Festival that lasted for three days. Intended to be an annual event, this is the grand initiative of the university’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka; the occupant, Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson chair in Music and Head of Department, Professor Onyee Nwankpa- with the groundswell of support from the entire University.
The keynote paper having been delivered by this writer in consonance with the conference theme, Highlife in West Africa: retrospect and prospects, major papers were presented by among many others, Prof. John Collins from Ghana, Prof. Tunji vidal; Prof. Mark Levine from the University of California USA; Prof. Onyee Nwankpa; Prof. Mosunmola Omobiyi-Obidike, pioneer female Music Professor in Africa and others.
Highlights of the event were performances by the Rex Lawson Memorial Band featuring ex-Lawson side men and survivors such as Congo player, Tony Odili (who evoked nostalgia of the 60s with varying rhythmic patterns) and the great trumpeter Sony Brown. The Uniport choir and Stage band were also on hand to provide entertainment. The next conference has been fixed to hold in February 2016.