Idonije, others take a walk down music lane

Chux Ohai

One of the highlights of the 20th Musical Society of Nigeria Festival of Arts was the traditional music programme tagged ‘My Kind of Music’. This is an annual ritual in which about four or more music enthusiasts take turns to share their various choices of music before an audience at the MUSON Centre.

On October 20, 2016, it was the turn of broadcaster and music teacher, Princess Banke Ademola; another broadcaster and music critic, Mr. Benson Idonijie; writer, producer and director, Mrs. Ifeoma Fafunwa, and Prince Yemisi Shyllon, who is an art collector and philanthropist, to take a walk down the musical lane and exhume, as they progressed, memories of a past loaded with evergreen songs and exciting rhythms.

The striking thing about these four ‘old school’ music lovers, as it turned out, was that they all had eclectic tastes for music. And their preferences, which range from classical music, Jazz, reggae and pop to Afrobeat and country music, were simply breathtaking and exhaustive.

There were constant shifts in the theme of the narratives during the programme moderated by Mr. Kitoyi Akinsan, with Mozart’s sobering Sonata in B flat giving way to Victor Olaiya’s popular highlife tune Ko si owo lode or Lagbaja’s Konkon below.

Fafunwa, for example, recalled her teenage years in the 1970s, a period defined by a cultural boom that ushered in the colourful Second World Black and African Festival  of Arts and Culture, held in Lagos in 1977; visits by various musical and dance groups, such as the Ipi Tombi from South Africa; endless queues for tickets at the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos; bell-bottom trousers and platform shoes; and, of course, the hit-song, Staying Alive by the American pop group known as the BeeGees.

For Shyllon, Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry was a reminder of the contradictions inherent in the human society, especially in Africa, as much as Dolly Parton’s moving testimony in Coat of Many Colours. According to him, listening to the latter’s account of her poor background and the life that she knew as a child invoked images of suffering, hunger, lack and deprivation among millions of people living in abject poverty across the world.

While Ademola, whose background as a classical musician and composer evidently influenced her taste, occasionally took the audience on a tour of the world of classical music, Idonije made a detour from the exploits of Apala music exponent, Ayinla Omowura, whose hit-song, Danfo O siere helped to re-define the value of that genre of music, to the pulsating rhythm of Fela Anukulapo-Kuti’s Afrobeat music.

At different intervals, members of the audience were thrilled to tunes from the likes of Ebenezer Obey, the Temptations, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong, Christy Essien and a few other famous artistes, whose works compelled the listener to re-connect with the past.

The programme ended with a live performance of Michael Jackson’s ‘Human Nature’ by a music group led by Ayo Bankole Jnr.

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