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Of Mics and Men

Live Music: an integral part of the Nigerian Music Culture that has seen a heartbreaking decline.

In the beginning, all music was performed live; all we had was folk music and the only distinctions were made based on the purpose and maybe the cultures, but one thing was constant; the music was performed live.

At the turn of the 19th century, Nigerian music began to experience heavy influence from Arab and Western cultures. The evolution from folk to contemporary was gradual, but it happened and genres like Juju, Highlife and Apala were born. One could argue that with the evolution of music came technological advancements that removed the tedium of a live performance, easing the life of the artist, but still, just as the folk in our music did not completely fade, the tradition of live performances continued becoming a movement that became particularly vibrant through the 60s and 70s. See, the thing about live music is that it gives the audience a chance to properly understand the feeling of the artist through his/her creative process. From the command of the band to the artist’s energy and even facial expression, live music gives the artist a chance to not just sing but speak to the audience.

While the craft of live music has seen a great depression that has inflicted great wounds, it is impressive to see that not all have succumbed to the ‘Track 1’ illness. Nigeria has produced world-class performers like Asha and Bez who have continued to excel in this field and New Age Nigerian music is refusing to be part of the Track 1 club. It was impressive to see the majority of the Lemon Curd lineup make attempts to perform their music for the audience and it is always heartwarming to see the great performances from the ones that are honing this skill quite well: Maka, Tomi Thomas, Tomi Owo, Lady Donli among others.

While Live Music performances are not a walk in the park, it would be nice to see more artists put in the work and more shows to encourage this skill; I mean, imagine how much fun live Trap Music would be…

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