Musicians should not see themselves as competitors – Ebenezer Obey
By Taiwo Okanlawon and Ayodele Efunla
Renowned Juju music maestro turned evangelist, Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi, has urged Nigerian musicians should see themselves as contributors to the growth of the music industry.
Obey stated this during a press conference held National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, organized by Evergreen musical company ahead of its musical festival tagged for ‘Ariya Eko’ slated for December. 15 at Lagos City Hall, Lagos Island.
The musical concert will feature renowned and upcoming musicians, like Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi, Victor Uwaifo, Sir Shina Peters, Tee Mac, Jimi SolankeAra, Oseni Ejire, Obesere among others. The organiser will also induct Ebenezer Obey into the Evergreen Musical Hall of Fame at the event for his contribution to the music industry for decades.
Obey who is the headliner of the concert while speaking about competition challenges in the past said that musicians relating as competitors would create an unhealthy rivalry, which was not good for their career.
“I always say and I’m saying, it again, musicians must not see themselves as competitors,” he said.
“Everyone must appreciate one another because God has given us a gift and the talent He has given us can never be the same no matter, even if we play the same kind of music and the same name of music, it can never be the same.”
”For instance, my son Tolu Obey his playing Juju music, my grandson today is playing Juju music, yet they play like me but they do not play exactly like me, so we must not see ourselves as competitors but as contributors. We are using our gifts and our talents to make people happy,” he added.
Narrating his experience with music counterpart King Sunny Ade, Obey said the competition which was projected by fans and media almost turned music into politics.
He said, Obey this Sunny that, but we always make sure we neutralize all that, so in one world, musicians should not see themselves as competitors but as contributors.”
Obey commended the Evergreen musical company, organiser of the festival for promoting indigenous music, like Juju, Fuji, Afro-beat, Apala and all to the nation, Africa and to the world.
“Ariya Eko is to bring back the memories. To remember what Lagos stands for. Lagos is the home for everybody because of the hospitality. I was listening to a program as we were coming here about the late former Governor Mobolaji Johnson, a lot was said about him and it made me remember that we are coming for Ariya Eko.”
“Every good thing started in Lagos and Ariya Eko started a long time from those we called the Fathers of music, the likes of Tunde King, Ayinde Bakare, and others before we now came to contribute our quota to the development of Juju music, the likes of Bobby Benson, Victor Olaiya, Arinze, Babyface and all of them, it’s this Lagos. Yes, we have other places that have contributed to the development of the indigenous music, in the south, west, east and the north but Lagos is where everything started.”
“So this Ariya Eko is a good thing to bring us back to memory lane, that’s why I thank the Evergreen musical company for what they are doing and choosing this year as the beginning, it has brought the musicians together as one family, this year is for all of us, anyone that has anything to do with music,” he added.
He also appreciated Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his administration for their contribution to tourism and for believing in artistes and upholding the annual festival.
Earlier, former President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN and ace flutist, Tee Mac Omatsola Iseli, also called on musicians to constantly work on improving on the quality of their music and guide against imitating others as there is no shortcut to being perfect but through more knowledge and rehearsals.
According to him, musicians then rehearse days before mounting the stage to perform but many upcoming artistes now go to the studio with a piece of paper without profession skills that are essential.
“We were rehearsing, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to Friday. Friday night we perform, Saturday night we perform and Sunday off,” he said.
“Now the artiste go to the studio with a piece of paper and somebody will put some beats down and some cords, and maybe the song will turn out well, No.”
“My advice to the younger generation is, there is no shortcut, you will rehearse millions of hours before you become good. There are couple of young talents, I would say they have potentials, but still, when I look at the 70s and 80s, we had many bands who were excellent in Nigeria. If the younger generation wants to actually make an impact, and leave a legacy of music that can be listened to in 20 to 30 years time, the qualities of their songs must be improved, do not copy each other. Now everyone has a laptop, you think you are a superstar.”
“Let me tell you a story when I was the PMAN president, one man called me and said call me back I’m a superstar. I told him to come to PMAN then he came, with his rasta hair, bling bling and I said, let me listen to your CD. It was the usual trash lyrics of baby baby I love you. I told him, you know what, come back in ten years, you’re not ready. You tell me you are a superstar, you have no voice, you haven’t trained.”
“You are a superstar because a girl loves you? Music is a skill as you trained to be a medical doctor, or an architect, the same we musicians work hard to become professionals, to reach that level of Chief Commander Obey, to reach my level of the flute, I spent hundred thousand hours, let the younger generation take that knowledge from us, let them listen to us when we tell them they are not good enough, that is not criticism, that’s to say work harder” he added.
Fly Robin Fly’s crooner, who would also be performing at the concert, said he was able to infuse African music into Philharmonic music using his lyrics from his classical ballet.