WHY WE ARE STAGING HIGHLIFE FIESTA FOR INDEPENDENCE â€“ FEMI ESHO
For the past five years now, Evergreen Musical Company Limited, led by Chief Femi Esho, had been repackaging music from the 1920s. The company has succeeded in resuscitating the works of many music icons such as Bobby Benson, Eddy Okonta, Rex Jim Lawson, E.T. Mensah, Joe Mensah, Haruna Ishola, Victor Olaiya, I.K. Dairo, and 24 others, all in an effort to prevent these past legacies from going into extinction.
To crown its efforts, the company recently created what it called; Festival 50: Musical Memories of Yesteryears. The festival, according to Chief Esho would create create events around these great individuals (musicians) and their music during the celebration of Nigeria's 50th independence anniversary.
Chief Esho told journalists and musicians such as Dele Ojo (S.F) Olowookere, Fatai Rolling Dollar, late Bobby Benson's son, Tony, Bishop George Bako, former Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and his wife that highlife was a creation of Nigerian and Ghanaian musicians as a special gift to the world.
'Highlife and some of its variants originated from Nigeria, Ghana and a few other African countries hence it can be described as our gift to the world. In Nigeria, over 80 highlife maestros are known to have performed nationwide.
Today, less than 20 of them are alive. They are between 65 and 80 years old and only about 10 of them known to be actively involved in music.' 'In terms of the reign of Highlife, you can hardly find more than three of four recreation spots where the music is still enjoyed by patrons of musical bands. We feel that the situation portends a great danger for our indigenous contribution to the world of music, something that has the potential of being a major income earner for Nigeria if properly harnessed', Esho said.
Describing music as a universal language, Chief Esho paid glowing tributes to the old musicians, stressing: 'This is probably why the late I.K. Dairo was decorated by the Queen of England with the Order of Member of the British Empire (MBE). Juju maestro I.K. Dairo and a lot of his contemporaries brought honour to this country and we feel that there couldn't be a better time than now to honour these icons on the occasion of Nigeria's golden anniversary.
According to Esho, Festival 50 was planned to achieve three objectives, they include: Rejuvenation of the vintage music culture and renaissance of the era when music was played by live bands to the enjoyment of both listeners and dancers; recognition and appreciation of maestros, both living and dead and the rededication of efforts towards rekindling interest in vintage music.
Establishing an Evergreen Music Foundation to champion the advocacy for, and globalization of the works of our vintage artistes: Esho noted that the company hoped to achieve these by organizing the Festival 50 symposium and exhibition through a gathering of practitioners in the music industry, people who are in vintage music, teaching of African arts and culture, and tradition, young aspiring musicians who want to know what it takes to succeed in the vintage music industry.
He said that there would be a golden tunes concert, lifetime achievement awards and the Evergreen Music Foundation launch on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at the Lagos City Banquet Hall.