How my West African background shaped my music – Tito Da.Fire
Not a few of the ardent fans and lovers of Tito Da.fire, the enigmatic performer of chat topping Abibeji have a full grasp of how he found himself in music.
The Akwa-ibom born artiste is blessed with diverse exposure to different genres of music; explaining his versatility and a pointer to why the Kokoro crooner stoutly stands in a class of his own.
Speaking during the cause of an interview he divulged the secrets behind his musical journey, giving credits to soothing and sultry voices of Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson and Skeeta Davies which were daily cascading through his parents’ living room in Tappita, Liberia, while growing up as a child; this alongside his vibrant memory of his mother singing harmoniously in tune to the music of these great artiste were some of Tito Da.fire’s earliest fond music memories. His rich repertoire of music genres was enhanced by unadulterated sounds from the west coast of Africa; especially sounds from Nigeria, Ghana and that of his birth place Liberia.
His early years in Ganta, his birth city, was eventful as it availed him the opportunity and influences when he, alongside his elder brother, Michael first began performing for their elementary schoolmates at St. Francis Elementary School in Tappita. These were some of the sparks that launched him into a music career spanning the past two decades, the Nigerian artist disclosed during the interview.
His father, a Nigerian Christian missionary, the late Peter Timothy Otons from Awka Ibom State, migrated to Liberia as a missionary. There, he met Rebecca (née Lomothey) whom he married and would later start a family with. They would welcome Jedidiah Uduak Otons (Tito Da.Fire) on September 22nd, 1978. Tito Da.fire would later change his surname to Peters, his father’s First name as the the custom in Akwa-Ibom. In 1990, his father moved his young family back to Nigeria and stayed in Yaba, Lagos for a year. It was here that the tiny buds of music previously planted began to sprout and develop roots in the young Tito.
Tito and his older brother, Michael (Mickey) increasingly took more interest in Nigerian and foreign music during this period. The two brothers recorded several demos and continued to perform at gigs in Sango-Ota High School, Sango-Ota, Ogun State Nigeria, when their parents relocated from Lagos to Ogun State.
Much later in 1997, the duo would meet Reggae/Dancehall icon, Daniel Wilson, mentored them for a period of time in the arts of singing and song writing. It was during this period that Tito and Dr Shoe Wadada, a Patoise radio Dj cross path with the latter taking an interest in the vibrant brothers and confessing that the duo left a lasting impression on him.
He was to later invite Tito to meet a TV Producer of “Our Time” a popular youth TV programme on Africa Independent Television AIT Kaneng Wrang Pam, who upon hearing Tito Da.fire sing and speak, enlisted him to host her TV show.
Tito spoke of these encounters as life altering events that set him on the current path that he is on today. Sticking tightly together, he and his brother would form the musical duo, Gent2men. They released their first single “Seun ReRe (It’s gon be alright)” in 2002, becoming a chart-topper across Nigeria. A year later, they would release “Majekaja” a phenomenal success and chart topper across Nigeria.
Tito Da.fire would later go on to become a solo artiste. Throughout his career, from his group projects to his current solo projects the presences of his Ganta, Reggae and foreign influences is always audibly evident.
“I can’t wait to share my recent artistic expressions in a body of work this year, I love albums ‘cos it brings my music lovers and fans into “me”, into that private space”
On who to expect on his upcoming body of work, the Kokoro crooner, said: “it’s going to be an A-List experience, a timeless one.”