A toast to Jimi Solanke @ 80
It was a grand tribute for Nigerian folklore legend, Jimi Solanke, at Bogobiri House, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the art community converged physically and virtually to celebrate the music icon at 80.
The conference on root and influence of Jimi Solanke in contemporary Jazz Movement, which was deliberately put together by his colleagues to revel his entrant into octogenarian league, also witnessed a book presentation.
Organised by Lagos Jazz Society (LJS), the event was part of the weeklong activities to mark Solanke’s birthday. The event, which was aired live and virtual from Bogobiri Arts Place, connected persons across the country and beyond, who joined the panelists to discuss sustainable jazz music under the theme, Local Idioms in JAZZ: A Dive Into The Works Of Jimi Solanke.
The plenary was moderated by Michael Okorie, while the convener Jahman Anikolapo, handled the book presentation.
Master guitarist and jazz artiste, Bright Gain, observed that one of the major issues that impede the evolution of jazz genre of music in Nigeria and by extension, Africa, was lack of fund to promote it across board. On his part, Abiodun Adebiyi, pointed out that artistes in Nigeria and African are diluting the African JAZZ when they mix the genre with other foreign music.
They, however, held that one of Jimi’s albums in local dialects was a good way of promoting the African Jazz without mixing up with foreign blend. They lament that those who started with jazz deviate from the genre for economic considerations.
The celebrant, Jimi Solanke, who connected with the participants via Zoom, called for mentoring of younger musicians in folklore and jazz, as a way of sustaining the art. This, he said, would be a perfect 80th birthday gift for him. To this end, the Unilag mentorship programme was conceived and birthed by the JSL for him as a way of keeping the spirit alive.
The event ended with a film documentary of Baba Agba, which was produced in honour of the Octogenarian.
Born July 1942, Jimi Solanke is a Nigerian film actor, dramatist, folk singer and poet. He graduated from the University of Ibadan, where he obtained a Diploma certificate in drama.
After graduation, Solanke moved to the United States, where he created a drama group called The Africa Review, focusing on African culture. Members of this group usually put on African clothing, specifically Yoruba costume and performed in black African schools.
Solanke established himself in Los Angeles, California, where his storytelling career began. He was described as a “master storyteller” by CNN.
In 1986, he returned to Nigeria with three members of the African Review group to work with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). His reputation earned him the lead role in most of Ola Balogun’s films. He was part of the team that made the film of Kongi’s harvest by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.