‘MY VOICE IS MY MOST POWERFUL INSTRUMENT’
Gbenga Omolomo Bada, better known as Omolomo (his stage name), is set to become a household name in traditional music in Nigeria. The Osun State born artiste is a singer, song writer, saxophonist and band leader, and is influenced by the music of the likes of King Sunny Ade (KSA).
ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with the Ilesha indigene. He spoke about his journey into music, his kind of music and more.
How would you describe your music?
My music is a blend of jazz and highlife with an afro feel. It’s typical African. So, I will say its afro beat with highlife and jazz blend. It’s purely traditional music.
What do you call your kind of music?
I just call it African Beat, because while listening to my music, you’ll hear all sorts of African instruments and percussions.
Do you have a band of your own?
Yes, my band’s name is Omolomo Tropical African Beat.
Tell us about your journey into music?
When I left Ilesha for Ado-Ekiti, with the help of a man called Mr. Taiwo Fajamo, who taught me how to play the guitar, the first musical instrument I learnt, he also took me to the band he play for then.
I was with the band for more than a year, after which I left to form my own right there in Ado Ekiti. I was initially playing juju, but later I left Ado Ekiti for Lagos, that was in 1993. But you see, I later realized that juju music is not the brand that could really take my message to the people. So, I now decided on a blend of highlife and jazz, with my own afro beat stuff, as a channel to pass my message to the people.
What is the message that you pass through your music because there are a lot of music materials out there, even in your genre, without any message?
The message I pass is to embrace African culture, because Omolomo stands for African culture and tradition. Also, it serves as a kind of moral regeneration channel. Through my music, I sing about how the government can better the lot of the citizens.
You talked about learning the guitar, which other musical instrument do you play?
The musical instrument I play now is tenor saxophone. I also play alto saxophone, konga and some percussions. But basically, it is the tenor saxophone.
How about the guitar you learnt to play earlier?
That was then. I have not learnt to play it really good. Because I did not learn it the way it is supposed to be learnt. So I don’t play it really well.
How do you plan to make your music gain the attention you want, considering the number of songs out there?
My music will surely gain attention. The key is you need to be natural, be yourself. Also, let your music carry a message. There are a lot of problems all over the world, especially in Nigeria, so as an artiste; you need to address such issues through your music. Then people will want to listen to you. For instance, in one of my latest efforts, there is a track entitled NEPA. This is one issue that has been pulling back the development of this country. Erratic power! So, if you address certain issues that have to do with the people, definitely, they’ll want to listen to you.
What makes your music diiferent from other artistes that do your kind of music?
My voice is actually the most powerful musical instrument I have. My voice is unlike any other. In addition to that, the percussion I employ in making my music. For instance, in one of my songs I used the jembe drum it’s not African and there are other African musical instruments that I want to use in the future, the kind they used those days during festivals. But I’m yet to include them in my music, hopefully very soon. Maybe in my subsequent releases.
Who are the people you have worked with music-wise?
By the way, I’m a songwriter. I write songs even for other artistes. I was almost in King Sunny Ade (KSA)’s band. The reason I did not join was that if you have your own vision, even if Michael Jackson calls you to be a part of his band, you won’t stay with him, because of your vision and aspiration, through which you want to pass your own message to people. Years ago when I was only writing songs for people, I even wrote for him. I mean, for KSA, but he didn’t use the song.
I wouldn’t know why. I also composed for Micho Ade, who sang mi o mo pe ogun laye o, kin ti mu ra sile. The song I composed for him is entitled e be mo be. I’ve also written for others like Young Ade. I have worked with Sunny Davies, Ade Olushayo of blessed memory. There are others I can’t really remember.
Where do you see your career in the nearest future, say five years?
By the special grace of God, in five years or so, my music must have gone round the major parts of the world. If things work well, I have the intention of being in the UK later this year. But in five years, my music must have toured the world.
Finally, what do you have to say to aspiring artistes?
For aspiring artistes, I will say to them to persevere. First, you need to like what you’re doing. Then examine yourself if you are good at what you are doing. If you are not very good, and you love it, put more effort and learn from people. Also, don’t make money your priority, because it may not come within the first, second or even the fifth year. Music is like every other area life. You reap the fruits of your labour. They should work hard, be themselves and don’t make money the priority.
Who is Omolomo?
My name is Gbenga Omolomo Bada. I was born and bred in Ilesha, Osun State, into a family of five children. Though recently, my father adopted a boy, who is now regarded as the sixth child in the family. I attended Baptist Day and Methodist Primary schools, as well as Methodist High School, all in Ilesha, Osun State.
– MICHAEL NWOKIKE