By Clement Ige
The bubbling city of Lagos has remained dull for too long, perhaps due to the pandemic and its attendant lockdowns. But now the Center of Excellence is ready to roar back to life!
On Tuesday, May 18, the signs were all visible when legends of African music converged at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, both physically and virtually, to announce their readiness to make the biggest concert and entertainment event of the year happen.
Courtesy of the host, ‘Cloud 9’ Company, legendary African musicians including Sir Victor Uwaifo, Onyeka Onwenu, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Salif Keita, Commander Ebenezer Obey, Sir Shina Peters, K1 De Ultimate, Bright Chimezie and Queen Salawa Abeni all agreed with one voice at a press conference attended by the cream of the Nigerian media to make “The Legends Nite” a great event in August.
The media briefing radiated every signal that the artistes were ready to showcase the talents that made them legends. There were also indications that noticeable missing gaps exist in terms of lyrical values between the pioneers of African music and the younger generation. Everybody was eager to discuss this, even as this reporter made initial attempts to change the focus. His opinion was that the event was organized to kick off campaigns for the proper event, which is designed to celebrate the icons. But the subject became more interesting when Sir Shina Peters brought it up again in an answer to a question from a journalist. It was an opportunity everybody was waiting for, as the whole thing turned to a seminar session. At the end of the day, the music legends and the media were unanimous in their advice to the new generation artistes to give their lyrics some depth for societal relevance.
Journalist, politician and musician, Onyeka Onwenu was however diplomatic. She was of the opinion that since a lot of factors dictate the trends, including music, the present state is an “evolution”. She was comfortable with the new generation of artistes because “what is happening is just a phase. With time, many of them will realize the relevance or irrelevance of what they are producing. At such a junction, they will choose to move with the relevance”.
Earlier in his welcome address, Mr. Olalekan Olarinde of ‘Cloud 9’ explained the reasons behind his company’s decision to inaugurate the ‘Legends Annual Nite’, assuring that all the invited artistes are ready to perform.
“They are also slated for awards alongside King Sunny Ade and many other living legends and pioneers of African music who are not performing at the maiden edition,” he added. “Posthumous awardees include Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, I. K Dairo, Victor Olaiya, Bobby Benson, The Warriors, Rex Lawson, Orlando Owoh, Christy Essien-Igbokwe and many others.”
Indeed, the ‘Legends Nite’ is coming at the right time. This is significantly underscored by Salawa Abeni’s call for legends to have regular meetings. Pointing out that Onyeka “used to organize such rendezvous”, she said, “we need a cohesive forum to upgrade our values and point out such missing gaps to the new generation.”
At the briefing, journalists referred to Onyeka as ‘Queen’ but she repeatedly declined the title, pointing to Salawa as the real ‘Queen’. Also, in a lighter mood, Sir Shina Peters addressed Salawa as my “wife from youth” but the waka icon repeatedly told him “you remain unserious!”
For the broadcast industry, the continental event is designed as the most attractive content of the year. ‘Cloud 9’ executives reiterated this when they announced that major corporations from Africa have shown interest to live stream the concert.