Fahnbulleh, Solanke live on stage, as Elders’ Forum returns to Ojez
Years after the highlife music revival show was rested, O’jez Entertainment and Evergreen Musical Company has teamed up to bring back the monthly gig, Elders’ Forum, the once very popular monthly highlife music show that was also used as a medium to recognize and honour individuals, who have distinguished themselves in the arts and music industry.
So come this Sunday, February 26, strating frim 5pm, all roads will lead to celebrity restaurant, O’jez, inside the National Stadium, Surulere-Lagos where the revived Elders’ Forum will open in a grand style with the presence of Liberian International singer, Miatta Fahnbulleh alongside Nigeria’s acclaimed folklorist, playwright and actor Jimi Solanke.
The Elders’ Forum, according to Chief Joseph Odobeatu, Chief Executive Officer of O’jez Entertainment Group, was rested for about three years to enable it come back in a different shape and style.
“We had to go back to the drawing board and work out a way to make the every last Sunday of the month event that rocked Lagos for almost 15 years look fresher and better. So, O’jez went into a partnership with Evergreen Musical Company to make this happen. What you will witness on Sunday is a sharp departure from the past editions because we will strive to reinvent ourselves,” Odobeatu said.
Meanwhile, Miatta Fanhbulleh, one of Africa’s finest voices, has been rehearsing with Jimi Solanke, as both of them will be on stage for the better part of Sunday event. Though she always wanted to sing as a young lady, the bug really bit her at 16, a desire that caused problems with her father, the Liberian Ambassador to Sierra Leone. Liberia was not very progressive, and women, especially ambassadors’ daughters, didn’t sing in dance halls and clubs, so Fahnbulleh pursued her craft on the down low. She once came in second in a talent contest that she couldn’t attend because her father found out and wouldn’t let her go; the judges graded her from a tape. At 19, after graduating from high school in Sierra Leone she moved to Nairobi, Kenya to attend Junior College. She dropped out and moved to Monrovia, Liberia to D.J., alienating her father who wrote her out of his will and distanced himself from her.
She started singing professionally, often making more money in one night then most Liberians made in a month. Shortly after that, her father was sentenced to 20 years in prison for treason and other charges. Seeing no future in Monrovia, she boarded a plane in 1968 for New York, NY. She immediately displayed her singing skills by entering a contest at the Apollo Theater and coming in second. Fahnbulleh not only sang, but also composed and produced her songs.