In Yoruba parlance, Igi Aruwe literally translates, trees blossom in their seasons. The dictum applies to gospel singer, Biyi Samuel who, after he was allegedly used and dumped by a fraudulent producer, gathered his bits and pieces and is on the rise again.
Popularly called Igi Aruwe by fans, Samuel, who hails from Abeokuta, Ogun State, five years ago was brought to the nadir of his career when a producer, by acts of subterfuge, released the video version of a soundtrack he recorded for a movie directed by the late film actor and producer, Yomi Ogunmola.
The album, which turned out to be an instant hit, shared the title, Igi Aruwe, with the movie. Like the Biblical impostor, Jacob who, through trickery usurped his elder brother’s position, and received his blessings, producer of the film, who allegedly impersonated Samuel in the video recording, suddenly became a celebrity. He only mimed the lyrics composed and performed by Biyi Samuel in the original movie sound track.
The International Relations graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, was, however, shattered by the experience. Worse still, his defence that he was left out of the deal sounded implausible to those who cared to listen because at that point, he was broke. The impression held by his friends and associates was that, Biyi had mortgaged his future for a pittance.” Unfortunately, at that point in time, I was down financially. In a situation whereby people could hear your voice, but it was another person they were seeing in the video. A lot of people believed that I had collected money, whereas, what the producer did in the video was to mime the inspirational song.”
With no paying job aside singing, Biyi, at a point was almost at his wit’s end. He had a wife and two kids to fend for. Coupled with that, his menial job at the Lagos Airport, was grossly inadequate, so, he contemplated picking a white-collar job. The trials reached a head last year shortly after he met his pastor and benefactor, Ireti Ajanaku. He relates the experience; “An old friend approached me in my state of depression and told me I was rotting away. He reminded me that I needed money to touch up, if I wanted to remain, a fine boy. After he left me, I was psychologically traumatised. I almost gave up, dumped music and began to search for job. I approached my pastor, and he allayed my fears, raised my hope. All that, have begun to manifest now.
“Papa’s Promise is the story of my life; my rise from grass to grace. It was a testimony of God’s plan for me. On a particular Sunday, shortly after I arrived Lagos from my national youth service. I could not even afford transportation fare to church. So I started worshipping God in songs. All of s sudden, more lyrics started coming, the songs struck me and immediately I concluded, it was my Papa’s Promise.’
The revelation contained in Papa’s Promise, according to the father of two, was not confirmed until five years later. “Last year, I met Pastor Ajanaku, who told me about my background and prophesied God’s plans to use me to propagate the gospel. At that juncture, I concluded that Papa’s Promise would be the title of my next album.’
Although, distraught by the disappointment seven years ago, today, the keyboardist has proved his detractors wrong that he was finished. Currently, he is putting finishing touches to his second album, entitled Papa’s Promise. The solo effort, which is being cooked at Aigbovo Osagie’s Dream Audio Works Studio (DAW), Lagos, is a six-tracker and features another hit song, Kabio ko si (The unquestionable God).
Type of music
According to the leader of June 20 Band, who described his type of music as Egba fuji, his choice of genre was borne-out of a consciousness. “ I grew up listening to the likes of Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade, Wura Fadaka, Jimi Solanke, to mention but a few. Around 1992, I started listening to R. Kelly, Lucky Dube, Bebe and Cece pWinans and they all influenced my music. For instance, I picked the gangan (Yoruba talking drum) infusion from Majek Fashek. His words “At a point, I told myself, in trying to be like another person, the best I could become was number two. So, I felt the need to stand out. I’m an Egba boy, so I decided to tag my music, Egba fuji, nevertheless, I still endeavour to cut across.
Happily married the artiste did not fore close the pervasive lust of the flesh. For instance, it is not uncommon that artistes in public glare, square up to distractions from the opposite sex. But for this born-again singer, the biblical maxim, that ‘old things have passed away, and all other things become anew,’ holds sway.
My music in five years
Biyi’s dream interestingly transcends this clime, ‘By God’s grace, I want to take my music to international stage. My dream is that if God permits me, someday, I want to do a duet with R. Kelly. Lucky Dube is another great artiste I would have love to collaborate with, if he had not died.’
Samuel was born into a Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) family. In his childhood years, he developed interest in church activities which saw him joining the choir. Inspired by his mum who was also in the adult choir, Biyi’s burning passion for music did not wane, even though he never envisioned studying music in school. For the trained diplomat-turned gospel singer, music is a calling. Even if he had studied Medicine, his dream, profession, he would have still returned to music.
It was surprising that eight years after he graduated from OAU, he never practised as a trained-diplomat. Before then, Biyi’s attempt at a secular job had ended in fiasco. ‘After my youth service, I tried my hands on some menial jobs at the Lagos Airport. It wasn’t that I was lazy but things didn’t work out for me. After touting for several years without making headway, I quit the job. Today, I foresee a great future ahead of me. Having released Sacrifice on Decross Records label in 2003, Biyi, said he had no regret ministering in songs.