Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
For Rivers State based singer Kalapi Ojuka, singing and playing Highlife music is not only a dream come true but also a way of life.
Speaking after emerging as one of the five finalists who are going to be slugging it out at the final round in Enugu this weekend, Ojuka expressed gratitude to Life Continental Lager and Nigerian Breweries Plc for encouraging young talents and providing a platform for budding Highlife music enthusiasts to shine.
Five singers and four dance groups made it to the finals of the “HiLife Fest 2018 talent hunt competition tagged “The Complete Experience”.
Music lovers were thrilled with beautiful traditional Igbo highlife music and cultural dances by 10 singers and five dance groups at the semifinal stage in Onitsha.
Guests performers like Chidimma, Chijioke Mbanefo and the Umu Obiligbo Brothers, also gave exciting performances.
According to Funso Ayeni, the Senior Brand Manager, Regional Main Stream Brands, Nigerian Breweries, the competition was organised to support the tradition and music of Igbo people.
“Highlife music is peculiar to the Igbo race. Even though the music has gone contemporary, the original Highlife is quite rich and thick; such that an average Igbo man would not want it to die,” Ayeni said.
“And so, Life (Lager Beer) from the stable of Nigerian Breweries has been with the Igbo people since 2012, when we repositioned the brand to stand firm behind the progress of the Igbo man.”
Ayeni said N10 million would be awarded on June 2 at the grand finale in Enugu, where overall winners for singing and dancing categories will smile home with N2 million each.
The first runners up in both competitions will go home with N1.5 million, while second runners up will compete for N1 million each.
The final stage will feature Dons Ifeanyi (Anambra), Chinedu Obiajulu (Enugu State), Agbom Emmanuel (Delta), Kalapi Ojuka and Kelvin Emmanuel (Rivers), in the singing category.
For the dancers, Kanaowo Dance Group (Rivers), Noel Africa Cultural Entertainment (Ebonyi), Umuchiziri Egwu Cultural Dance Group (Enugu State) and Asinnodricks Africa (Imo) would compete for a spot in the grand finale.
Chairman, Panel of Judges in the competition, the legendary Zigima exponent, Bright Chimezie, in an interview, noted that it was tough pruning the contestants down to five for the final stage because many of them had the spirit of Highlife in them.
Chimezie said the judges measured stagecraft, ability to connect with the audience, and also singing in the right key, among other things.