THEY came for entertainment but did not only get plenty of it, more thrills got their way, as both veterans and young artistes performed in their elements amid pomp and ceremony. The recent Nigerian Music Festival held in Lagos was memorable outing for guests as well as performing acts. Staged in a relaxed atmosphere, at the water shore, Ocean View Restaurant, Victoria Island, Lagos, the festival witnessed an array of artistes, producers and key operators in the Nigerian entertainment industry. There were tourists too from various parts of the world and music lovers in the over three-hour panorama of entertainment. The best of back-in-the-days hit numbers were performed as much as popular contemporary songs. Highlife veterans including, Sir Victor Uwaifo the akasa music king, the lady of songs Onyeka Onwenu, ageless agidigbo frontliner the octogenarian Fatai Rolling Dollar, former Performing Musician and Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) national president, Chief (Mrs) Christy Essien-Igbokwe, Harry Mosco Agada (a.k.a Country Boy of the 1980s rave), the Afro Juju maestro Sir Shina Peters and a host of other old hands of the music turf were there, representing the ‘old school’ of highlife. Reggae had its old stars too, from Ras Kimono to Oritz Wiliki, to Daniel Wilson, Esse Agese and others of the artistes of the 1980s and 1990s. There was also the ‘torch-bearing’ still-active mid 1990s ragga star from the North, Zakky Azzay. Among the contemporary stars were African China, Timaya, DJ Zeez, Lil’H, Olu Maintain, Wande Coal, past and current winners of the MTN Project Fame West Africa – Inyanya Mbuk (2008) and Mike Anyasodo (2009) – and others were there. And many of them mounted the stage to thrill the crowd. Sponsored by the telecommunication firm, MTN which deems the Music Festival a unifier of music makers, industry operators and lovers of the art, the promoting firm found the event their ample bit to appreciate Nigerian music. They also packaged it as an opportunity for music lovers to meet their favourite artistes, live and savour them perform on stage. Twenty-eight artistes strut the predominantly yellow stage with a standby eight-piece live band (Ebony Band) that did justice to numbers – old and new. The acts rendered their various hit tunes, some dating back to four decades to resounding applause from the crowd. Shina Peters sang songs from his early 1990s album Experience, his presentation got the crowd’s attention, as they sang along with him. So it was when Ras Kimono was called upon to perform. In his characteristic fast-paced guitar-propelled reggae, he dazzled the crowd. Some got on their feet and danced their hearts out as he performed. African China, Timaya, DJ Zeez, Lil’H, Olu Maintain, Wande Coal all heard an impressive outing with their songs. As if playing to a strict rule, the artistes, all, sang popular choice numbers from their hit albums. Stand-up comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka, as comperer, spiced up the event with his rib-cracking jokes, which got the guests laughing throughout the night. Celebrities broadcast presenters, Olisa Adibua of Beat FM, Chazz B of Inspiration FM among others were there and they had turns on the bright stage. Speaking during the event, general manager, Consumer Marketing, MTN Nigeria, Mr Kola Oyeyemi, expressed delight at the impressive turn-out of artistes and music lovers, saying the event is an opportunity to promote love, unity and harmony, among artistes of different music genres and eras and equally show how Nigerians are passionate about their music. “Like they say, music is the food of the soul. As we can see, Nigerians are very passionate about music. This has been justifiably expressed in their turnout tonight. And like we always say, MTN connects to the passion of Nigerians in order to ensure that we enrich their lives. So with the Nigerian Music Festival, we are enriching the lives of Nigerians in terms of entertainment by bringing excitement and fun into their lives.” Organisers of the event, Ruyi Communication, led by veteran broadcaster, Soni Irabor said that artistes from various genres of music in Nigeria, including those of the older and younger generations have showed to Nigerians keeps them relevant in their fans’ minds. “Their performance this night is something that is worth commending. Their preparations and rehearsals towards this, in other to ensure the delivery of the scintillating musical performances that will satisfy their thousands of fans and music-loving Nigerians have paid off,” Irabor said.
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