HOW MY FRIENDS PLANNED A COUP AGAINST ME ––SHINA PETERS
Why are you coming out with a new project at this time because many of your fans don't even know you are still in music?
What else can I do other than the music business? I'm not a contractor or banker. Music is my job. I have the right to release an album anytime I wish. But quite honestly, what really prompted me to come out with this project is because my fans here in Nigeria were complaining too much. For the past three to five years now, I've been spending like two months in the country and six months in Europe or America. But this time around, my friends planned a coup and caught me unawares. What happened was that 12 of them met without my knowledge and discussed about my musical career and what to do to take it to the next level. At that point, I was curious and asked them what was going on, but they were not forthcoming with any response. So, when they finished with all their meetings, they met me and said 'this year, we are not going to leave you alone and if you want to leave this country, you must give us what we want.' They said all they wanted from me was to come out with a new album backed by a very good video. Honestly, I was not prepared for that because I had already been booked for some engagements abroad. Last February 14, I was billed to perform at a carnival in Canada and in the third week of the same month, I was supposed to perform at a black carnival in Chicago. So, I told my friends to give me at least two weeks to sort myself out if the organizers of those shows can defer my engagement till next year. With this done, my friends went ahead to book the studio and came back to show me the receipt. So, I gathered my boys and we started work on our new project.
Would you then say your silence all this while was deliberate?
Yes, it was deliberate. When God used me to create the concept of 'Asiko awa youth re' (This is the era of the newbreed), people didn't really understand what I was talking about. Also, before I created Afro Juju music, people used to hear the music of one or two juju artistes and I asked myself 'who will break this jinx?' I thank God that He used me to achieve that. It was after I introduced this revolution that many other new young artistes came out and became popular. But at a point, I asked myself whether it was wise to start struggling for relevance with these new generation artistes. I also asked myself what can I do to encourage these artistes even if they are playing my kind of music. That was when I decided to give myself a break so that the upcoming ones would have the opportunity to grow. And thank God, it worked. Now, you find artistes like Wale Thompson, Dele Taiwo, Tunde Sampon and a few others. When I see them these days in their big cars, I'm always happy.
Why did you now decide to stage a comeback?
The simple reason is because some people were saying 'juju music is dying' and I said that would not happen, I'd better return to the drawing board and do something serious. That was why I had to put everything into the making of my new album titled 'Splendour.'
How long did it take to put this together because it's like everything happened in a hurry?
Ordinarily, the making of the project should have taken about six months because you would have to rehearse the songs for two to three months and then the recording. But miraculously, within two weeks, we were already in the studio. It is a miracle because I've never experienced this kind of thing before. I just couldn't believe it. You should know that it is not an easy task to write songs and good songs for that matter.
What are the unforgettable lessons you have learnt from the time you started music before the age of 10 till now?
First, you must not rush into any business because of the money or fame. For those of us in music, you must really love the job before you can succeed and that is why someone like me can play 48 hours non-stop without getting tired and the reason is simply because I love my job. But, there are so many artistes out there who are very lazy. They are just a one-album stars. In this kind of business, one lesson any serious artiste must learn is that you must not give up no matter the obstacles. About four years ago, some people were wondering if I could survive attacks from right, left and center but here I am because I believe in what I'm doing. Consistency matters a lot.
Have you experienced betrayals from people close to you in the cause of getting to where you are today?
One thing about me is that I don't judge people and at the same time I don't want to be judged by people. For those who have hurt me in the past, I always pray to God to continue to bless them, protect them and let them see the light. I thank God that I don't allow such things to get at me.
What has your popularity taken from you?
First, my privacy. I don't have my freedom at all but I'm used to it. If you doubt this, let the two of us take a walk down the road and you'll see what I'm talking about.
How do you manage to cope with this?
Well, for someone like me who started very early, I'm used to it and it's no longer a big deal.
What is your greatest desire in your career?
I think I'm contented with who I am and I always beg God not to take that away from me. Also, I want a situation where 80% of the people will appreciate the entertainment industry.
So, you think majority of Nigerians don't appreciate entertainment?
Not as much as they should. I want to see a situation where the Federal Government will set up a body for entertainment like the Nigeria Football Association is to football. Government at all levels are still not taking the entertainment business very seriously. It's very sad.
What are your fears for the industry?
I'm afraid that if things continue like this for the next two to three years, we may not be able to count four real successful artistes in the country. A few of us were lucky because we started off when the country's economy was still very buoyant but that is not the case today. I want to blame our union which has not lived up to its responsibility of positively projecting the image of the body.
What is your opinion on the incessant crisis that has been rocking PMAN?
As far as I'm concerned, Dele Abiodun is the authentic president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria. If I find myself in his shoes, the PMAN president should not be in charge of the day to day running of the association because I'm still active on the stage. The association should be run by competent professionals who will be paid a certain percentage of what comes to the purse of the association. The president of PMAN should be a ceremonial one and not someone with an executive status; the job should not be full-time. PMAN should be properly marketed so that corporate organisations can come in and invest in our activities, instead of what we have now where foreign artistes are well promoted in our country at the expense of the local artistes. If we project the image of the union very well, then it would be easy for corporate organisations to identify with us. If PMAN must engage professionals to run it, there must be a contract between the two parties on what role either of the parties is expected to play. The performance of the executive should be reviewed periodically so that they don't derail from the set objectives.
Is any of your children taking after you?
I really don't know.
But are you not interested in at least one of them taking to music?
Who am I to determine their destiny. They have the freedom to choose whatever they want to do in life.