Source: nigeriafilms.com
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It was a bright Thursday afternoon when TOPE OLUKOLE visited the Iju residence of Isaac Irawo Oluwashina Peters. Gently seated in the tastefully-furnished sitting room in knickers, he was dishing out instructions to his maids and the people working for him like a real MR. PRESIDENT, the title of one of the records of the AfroJuju Beats (R&B) maestro.This interview was part of activities marking his 50th birthday.

ARE you born again?

Why? he asked. It is very unlike you to be so quiet and without any perceived “attachment.” Yes, I am a member of the Cherubim & Seraphim Church. I don't understand what you mean by being born again.

You aren't surrounded by women, and drinks are not flowing?

Women? Not in my agenda again. I focus on my God.

What about drinks?

I still take that, but not in excess.

Afro Juju brought you into the limelight. How do you feel being the creator of this music?

I feel great and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to create this form of music. Nevertheless, many people don't know that the music came up out of frustration. I was totally frustrated before the release of Afro- Juju. Life had become meaningless to me. When you release an album not acceptable to the public, it can be disappointing. This prompted the fast tempo of the music, which is today a talk of the town and the beat cuts across the length and breadth of the country.

How was your childhood like?

At the age of four, I followed a teacher who loved me so well to Ebenezer African Church School, Ijoko, Ota, in Ogun State. After my primary education, I also attended New Era Secondary School, Oshodi, briefly, where I dropped out to face music. When I was in school, I was the leader of the school band and I was always a force to reckon with in the Cherubim & Seraphim Church. I was always eager to know more about music then.

After school, where next did Shina Peters go?

When I left school, I was roaming about the streets in search of my desire, but later joined Dele Akanbi's Band. I wandered again into Emperor Kuti's Juju Group. As a kid musician, I attempted Ebenezer Obey's Group, but I was rejected. One day I was discovered by General Prince Adekunle's band. At that time, General Prince Adekunle had a fatal accident and he couldn't perform, I was asked to join the band. I performed creditably well at that gig. The second day, General Prince Adekunle's band members informed their mentor, Mr. M. Kazzim, who came to watch me perform and eventually invited me for a chat, at the end of which I joined Prince Adekunle's band.I was tagged Prince Adekunle's son and I became a star in the band. I helped the band in waxing some records and I developed my career and improved tremendously while with the band.

When did you start your own band?

In 1977, I pulled out of Prince Adekunle's band and joined hands with Segun Adewale to form Superstars International; after eight records , the duo split and I formed my own band in 1982. After I went solo, in 1982, having seen my way to freedom, the four albums —Way to freedom, Challenge Cup, Ko Temi Fun Mi, Sewele released then under Skylark Records owned by Chief Olu Aboderin, were not too successful, yet, the period was used to prepare the ground for the greater challenges ahead of me.

When was your breakthrough in the music industry?

I struggled for 10 years trying to create a name for myself. In 1989, I , in collaboration with Sony Music, I released a musical bombshell—ACE, Afro Juju Series One, a fast tempo modern music which gained international recognition through its rich African rhythm, blended with distinctive key boards and Hawaii guitar. This unprecedented effort was crowned with four prestigious Nigerian Music Awards for musical excellence for the year 1989. I must tell you that the effort and the fast tempo of the album came out of frustration after unsuccessful albums.

ACE became the hottest album in Nigeria and it is still one of the hottest traditional music around, as it gave birth to a new song—Ijo Shina—which was well embraced in the country. Afro Juju did not only take the scene by storm, it has created a contagious infection-Shinamania-as a result of which the follow-up to ACE was so titled. Shinamania became a new form of expression, backed by a video- studded musician with the most enjoyable and warmest dancers in years. It exploded to become one of the best-selling albums in the country.

I have been in the music industry for over thirty years, and the first ten years were spent in abject poverty; the second ten spent doing researches, trying to carve a niche for myself and the new generation I represent.”

How do you feel about the titles given to you by your admirers?

As someone who abhors titles, I feel highly flattered, since this is honour, based on facts and reality, rather than ego boosting, personal aggrandizement, unhealthy competition and so on, I accept them with absolute respect especially the title of “Music President in Nigeria and Africa”.