By Ayodele Lawal
Talented jazz artist, Mike Aremu, is set for the fifth edition of his annual concert, Sax Appeal, holding in Lagos and featuring four times Grammy award winner, India Arie. He spoke about the show and other issues. Excerpts:
Why do you love to play saxophone?
I love saxophone because of its uniqueness. I have a good voice and I sing better than some artistes too. I have had cause to sing in some of my shows and albums and people love it. My uniqueness is because I play the sax and people love it.
Do you hope to drop the saxophone one day?
No, it has no side effect on me. Manu Dibango is 80 and still plays the sax; so also are Pa Orlando Julius, Victor Olaiya and others. The sax helps me to keep fit because I do a lot of exercise on stage playing it.
Okay, what makes your own kind of jazz unique?
I believe it’s the African touch, because I play Afro jazz, and my compositions are unique to me. I am Yoruba but I grew up in the North, so I blended this with my gospel background. I have also been to so many festivals in and out of Nigeria and each time I perform I get accolades.
The fifth edition of your annual concert, Sax Appeal comes up soon, what should your fans expect?
Yes, it’s going to be the fifth edition of Sax Appeal on June 26, 2016 at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos. My fans should expect the best because I will be featuring Grammy award winning artiste, India Arie. I am also featuring Praiz and Timi Dakolo. And my band will also perform.
Why are you featuring India Arie?
She is a wonderful singer who has won about four Grammy awards including 21 nominations. She plays the flute, guitar and other kinds of instruments and I have always loved her music. Her music cuts across and she is a kind of artiste that can fit into Sax Appeal.
What are the preparations you have put in place for this show?
We have made good preparations because we have to double our efforts since the economy is the way it is. We also want people to get values for their money. Sax Appeal was not held last year because of the election so, this time around, it is a must.
You are largely the sole financier of the show; do you have a sponsor for this year’s edition?
No, but we are hoping to have some sponsors this year, because the show is costing me over N100 million.
Why are you putting so much in a show without a major sponsor?
You know that most of us are driven by passion and not money. This is the fifth edition without any major sponsor, and we will continue. Hopefully, a major sponsor will come one day. Though, we get supports from the Lagos State government and some individuals, that have been our strong points, and I can assure you that we will not fall below standard this year.
Are you doing any special songs for this year’s Sax Appeal?
Oh yes, there are lots of new songs like ‘Nigeria Days’, a Hausa song for the unity of the country, and ‘Life Goes On’ among others.
How do you see Sax Appeal in the next 10 years?
I know it’s getting better yearly, so I want it to be a national jazz festival. I want the Lagos State government and even the Federal Government to see it as a major source of income to the nation. I believe by partnering us this can be achieved.