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Revisiting Music Of PH City

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Rex Lawson and Lady I.B.

Rex Lawson and Lady I.B.

The music of Port
Harcourt, the Garden City of Nigeria, a city of Rivers State located to the south of Nigeria, is a thriving state encompassing both native African and foreign influenced genres.  Port Harcourt plays host to numerous radio stations prominent recording studios such as the street Rhymes Studios and other music institutions.
As a state capital, Port Harcourt boasts of some of the liveliest Club scenes in the country as well as music venues, bars and restaurants.  At present time, hip hop, Highlife and reggae are most popular music styles among young people in the city.  However, another genre of music called gyration is also popular among the young and youngest at heart as the artistes struggle to catch up with the existing genre.
Port Harcourt has given birth to many locally and internationally admired musicians including Duncan Mighy, Muma Gee, Timaya, Daniel Wilson, M. Trill, Slim Burna, Lyrikai, Mr 2 Kay, Step-Aga Oba Omega, Peter Stone Cold, Waconzy, Frank D Nero etc.  In high life we have the Legendary Cardinal Rex-Lawson of the Mayor’s band, Jackwest Omodu of the Garden City band fame, King Sunny Brown, fondly called ‘Original Pikin’ and Prince David Bull of the professional Seagulls band etc.
The city is also home to Grafton entertainment one of Africa’s biggest record labels founded in 2004.  Grafton entertainment has contributed extensively towards the growth of Port Harcourt music scene – from discovering and exposing her best talents to organizing some of the city’s ground breaking concerts.
The first signee to the label was the Bayelsa duo “De indispensables”, whose “press on” Pt2 album in the 2000s put Port Harcourt on the global hip hop map.
Music Festivals
More recently, there has been significant increase in the number of festivals held within the city.  CARNIRI V is a major music cultural events in Nigeria, it continues to take place annually since its establishment in 1988.  The state government further recognizes this festival as its biggest tourism export.
Aside Nigeria, the CARNIRIV has featured famous artistes from nighbouring countries and abroad, including the likes of Shaggy, Patra, Beenie man, Buster Rhymes, Joe Brick and Lace as well as Wyclef- Jean and Ras Kimono etc.
Venues:
Most of the major concerts, festivals and other musical events are held in the multipurpose stadiums such as Liberation Stadium Elekahia, opened in 2001. It has the capacity to seat 30,000 people.  Only the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium is known to be bigger than it.  There is also the multipurpose hall of the Rivers State Civic Centre, Moscow Road and the Atlantic Hall of Hotel Presidential Port Harcourt among several others.
Port Harcourt Night Club and public houses are also locations for music activities. Other venues like the artrium and the Aztech Arcum have hosted several shows for local and mainstream artistes.
Early Music
JAZZ: Mand Mayer, female Jazz icon was born in Port Harcourt, she was among the few women who rose to stardom in the 1950s.  Mayer’s voice and ability to expand the genre were the keys to her success throughout her career, Mayer maintained a position as West Africa’s foremost.
In the late 1980s, Jazz music achieved its commercial peak.  A Jazz festival was duely introduced to hold every year.  During the first three editions, the event saw a record number of people along with performances from Oliver Jones, Embroy and Dizzy Gillespie.
Hip-Hop
Beginning in the twenty first century, the impact of Hip-hop music on young Port Harcourtians in terms of life style, fashion, attitudes and values has reached heights previously unseen.  While this transformation remains an intriguing cultural enigma, those involved in the movement consider it profitable.
An early example of Port Harcourt hip hoppers was the “Tuck Tyght  All Stars” formed in 2000, they went ahead to become a significant group paving way for further development of the genre. Protagonist, Henry Diette Spiff found “Tuck Tyght” records to focus on hardcore street oriented hip hop at a time when there was not many supporting or sponsoring it.
The group first release was “Now Official” released in 2003, featured in the album were Frank D’Nero, Andre Blaze, Double K, Mark Gee, Duncan Daniels, Damage Lyrikal, M-Lee, Double V and Billy Dolomite.  This album was instrumental in helping the artists gained experience in all facets of the industry ranging from production, mixing, mastering to distribution.
Lyrikal later left “Tuck Tyght” and came out with his own single “Learn Something”, followed by his second album “Can You Relate” which launched him as a solo artiste.  Duncan Daniels born in Boston USA, moved to the city as a teenager.  He Began producing records eventually signing with “Tuck Tyght” though the record label and the All Stars group working under it later disbanded, their contributions to the hip hop scene cannot be ignored.
Grafton Records
The indispensable (composed of  Lenny Band
and Tick Lips) were the most successful duo of the 2000s.  Not only did they sell out their headline gigs and perform at special venue around the globe, but they also broadened the appeal of Port Harcourt hip hop to a larger audience.
Their debut album on the grafton imprint ‘press on’ came out in 2015, it was supported by the singles “Sweet Mama” and “Cinderella”.  There second album”, press on Pt2″ made a greater impact garnering them a Best West African Act Award at the Channel O’Music Video Awards. Guest appearances came from Jamaica’s Star, Junior Rade, Ruggedman, M-Trill along with  UK’s Pyrelli and Phoebe one.
In 2007, Doublek brought out his first Solo album katastrophy’, he was nominated at the 5th Niger Delta Advancement awards in 2008, De indispensables announced their split from Grafton  records after spending four years on the Tonye Ibiama helmed record label.  In that same year, M-Trill’s debute studio album “number one” came out. He won Best African act the Channel O’ Music Video Awards  for ‘Bounce ‘ .  during 2009,  M-Trill released his mixed tape “Ladie and Gentlemen” where he showcased his production skills and trade mark. Lyrically, new generation singers, Duncan Mighty, Timaya and slim Burna are beginning to fuse elements of hip hop with various forms of Reggae.
Highlife
Virtually all highlife greats from Rivers State have started in Port Harcourt.  The 1960s saw the rise to prominence of Cardinal Rex Lawson with his mayor’s Dance Band, being among the first popular bands to achieve wide spread success. His accomplishments helped shape the direction of African musicians and music in the twentieth century, probably the most influential high life musician of that period.
Mayor’s Dance Band and Rex Lawson released numerous hits and in the later years became known as ‘Riversmen’.  The band made their mark on the international arena, while more people were drawn to the band after Rex-Lawson death in the 1970s, ‘Rivers men’ re-established itself as the professional Seagulls Dance  Band, they were led by Prince David who remained a key figure for the time of existed.
Another important performance is late King Sunny Brown fondly called “original pickin”.  He began to sing at a young age in Christ Army School, there he played in the school band with Rex Lawson.  During the Nigerian civil war, Sunny Brown and Rex Lawson played in the 3rd Marine Commando. He performed with musicians like Prince David Bull and Thrilled fan 5 at different venues across the city.
Reggae
Like Hip hop and highlife, reggae has long formed an essential part of the music of Port Harcourt.  The most well known representatives of this genre are Daniel Wilson, Duncan Mighty and Timaya, Muma Gee originally sang reggae songs before  switching over to hip hop.  Other prolific acts include push Kayana, Buk wild Da Ikwerre an, slim and former mayor of Port Harcourt Chimbiko Akarolo.
Duncan Mighty’s first major international collaboration “wine it” was released in 2012 to a mixed reception, but would later go on to attract reception but would later go on to attract some commercial success.  Also worth noting is the critically acclaimed “I’m on Fire” by slim Burna considered as the most successful mixtape from a Port Harcourt based recording artiste.
The fifteen track project had some infusion of dance hall, mixed with pop, dance hall and revolved mostly around the themes of love, sex and city street life.
In 2004, Sean Paul appeared in a remix of ‘Bum-Bum’ by Timaya from his fifth studio album ‘Epiphany’.  The video for the song directed by stutah films earned one nomination at the 33rd International Reggae World Music Awards (IRAWA) .  By June 2015, Bum-Bum remix had already become the fourth most viewed music video Nigeria on You Tube amassing over twenty five million views…
PMAN
The Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) Rivers State branch exists as one of the organizations that promote the music profession and oversee the welfare of musicians in Rivers State, it is affiliate of the national PMAN.
Founded in 1995, Geraldo Pino, a musician from Enugu led the Association Until 2004, he was succeeded by Muma Gee, who became the first elected female chairperson of the association, but was later impeached for alleged misappropriation  of fund and lack of accountability.
In 2010, Lexym succeeded Muma Gee and assumed leadership of the Association. He served until 2013 and was succeeded by Lady IB, the second woman to hold the position.  Those who rued the musicians body since inception include: Giraldo Pino, Muma Gee,  Arthor W. Pepple Jnr, Peter Stone Cold Lekara ‘Lexy’ and the incumbent Lady I.B.

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Nigerian Idol Gets Tougher As Daniel Exits

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Last week, contestants on Nigerian Idol took a trip back to their birth year, as they performed their favourite hits from the year they were born. BeyonceAjomiwe opened the night with her rendition of Rihanna’s 2004 hit, Unfaithful. DJ Sose commented that her breath control was good, but Seyi Shay felt the song was not the right choice for her. 
Next up was Comfort. Her performance of Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful impressed the judges and showcased her continuous growth in the competition. She was, however, advised to work on her vocals and stage presence.
Atela Francis’ soulful performance of Bryan Adams’ rock classic Please Forgive Me left the judges speechless. When Obi Asika finally spoke, he commented that Francis had just delivered a stadium worthy performance.
Another contestant who left the judges speechless was Faith Jason. His song choice, You Are Not Alone was a tribute to his idol Michael Jackson. DJ Sose exclaimed that he was the full package; combining his voice, skill and stage performance.
Fans favourite, Kingdom followed Francis and Faith Jason performances with a stunning rendition of Toni Braxton’s Unbreak my heart. According to him, he chose the song because he read fans’ comments, asking him to be expressive and this was his response. Seyi Shay felt that this week’s performance was a step up from last week and he had redeemed himself. Obi Asika agreed, saying that Kingdom had arrived and they had all been waiting for him to sing and perform the way he did during the auditions.
Akunna sang LeAnn Rimes’ 1997 hit, How Do I Live. Obi Asika commented that like her previous performances, she was great. Emmanuel closed the night with a stellar performance of Seal’s Kiss From A Rose. He received a standing ovation from all the judges who praised his vocal ability and stage presence.
For Daniel, it was the end of the road as his journey on Nigerian Idol came to an end. You can vote for your favorite contestants as the power to determine who stays and who leaves is solely in the hands of the viewers. Voting on Nigerian Idol is via the website, mobile site, MyDStv, and MyGOtv apps and via SMS, which is available only in Nigeria.

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Why Rivers Rules Nigeria’s Entertainment Enclaves

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It is no gain saying that Rivers state occupies an enviable position in Nigeria. Apart from being the hub of oil and gas activities in the country and the treasure base of the nation, the state is also the heart beat of the country’s entertainment enclave.
      The historic exploits in music, movie, beauty pageants tourism, Arts and culture have attracted a humongous number of foreign and local investors, tourists and all classes of fun lovers to the state. The legendary hospitality, enviable security network, enabling environment and peaceful coexistence have turned the state to a save haven and home away from home for the numerous visitors.
MUSIC: In music, Rivers state boasts of a vibrast music industry that is globally acclaimed its artistes are putting out great music and for a longtime had quite a number of them pushed to national and even global acclaim. Recently Rivers state born award winning music super star, DaminiOgulu popularly known as Burna Boy made Nigeria and Africa proud by winning the highly coveted Global music Album award at the 61st edition of the Grammy awards held in Los Angeles, USA.
       Other Rivers State award winning stars making waves in Nigeria and beyond include Duncan Mighty, Frank D’ Nero, Lexy M, Oba Omega, Ajebo Hustlers, Omah Lay, Mercy Chinwo, Mr. 2Kay, Wakonzy, Idahams, Dan Dizzy, Muma Gee, Dr. Barz, Soti (the malaria crooner), Sky B, Bukwild-Da Ikwerre man and Deinbofa Nana Okoto (aka Korkormikor) among others.
Movie: Rivers state is also known for producing leading actors and actresses in Nollywood whose achievements in the make belief industry have attracted global attention with various local and international awards to show for their exploits in the industry. Some of these stars are brand ambassador to multinational companies and organisations.
    Rivers state born beauty queen and organizer of the Miss Earth beauty contest Ibinabo Fiberesima was one time National president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) under her watch, the umbrella body of actors and actress in Nigeria recorded unprecedented achievements and members enjoyed an open door policy and sense of belonging.
  Other A-List stars in Nollywood who are from Rivers state include: Sam Dede, Columbus Irosoanga, Gentle Jack, Walta Anga, Alaso Wariboko, Late J.T. Tom West and Tonto Dike, as well as Monalisa Chinda, Maurine Ihua and Ada Eme.
     These veterans have contributed in taking Nollywood to the next level of greatness and global recognition and have also generated revenue to the country amongst other achievements.
Comedy: The Rivers state entertainment landscape also includes the comedy clan. The state also parades veteran comedians who call the shots in the comedy industry in Nigeria. Among the humour merchants of Rivers state origin who have achieved legendary milestones through their hilarious joke are: Julius Agwu, Dan D’ Humerus, Angel D’ laugh, Prince Hezekiah the Rugged Pastor and a host of others.
TOURISM: This is another entertainment sector where Rivers state has recorded enviable history in terms of tourist attractions. Some of the historic site that abound in the state at second to non in the country. Some of the famous tourist attractions include the beaches such as Ifoko beach, Kono beach, Port Harcourt tourist beach and Finima beach etc.
      There are other tourist favourites, like the Port Harcourt Zoological Garden Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt pleasure park, World class hotels, cinema houses, amusement park and several other locations for relaxation and sight seeing.
Arts/Culture: Arts and culture play complimentary role to the tourism sector in the state as an entertainment outlet. The national museum in the state contains artifacts related to the various ethnic groups in the state including bronze, pottery, masks, historic household equipments, old currencies etc.
    The Rivers state cultural centre is a famous tourist attraction that serves to educate visitors on the rich cultural diversity of the state, there is a theatre, a stage and auditorium for live performance of cultural dance and plays which holds a huge attraction for tourists.
Nightlife: Nightlife Is Another area Rivers state stands out, Apart from Lagos, Rivers state is the state to beat in terms if quality, undiluted entertainment. Before the advent of covid 19 pandemic and Government restrictive policies, the state used to bubble from sdusk to dawn with wining, dining and dancing amid fun, glitz, glamour and razzmatazz.
  Though the covid 19 saga has whittled down the enthusiasm of fun seekers, night crawlers and clubbers, the entertainment industry still bounces ahead. Before now, in virtually all major street in the Garden City, you find drinking spots and other hangouts with Naija Jams blaring from giant speakers from 8:00pm and some time till dawn.
      It is difficult to tell which is a night club in this city because these drinking parlours and hangouts operate as night clubs even some restaurants and carwash do too. Girls of easy virtues in the state charge thrice the amount any of their colleagues in other states charge, because in Port Harcourt, girls are in class of their own.
    A typical night life in the garden city starts fun lovers and their partners start storming the cinemas, some of the popular ones are Silverbird cinema’s, Genesis Deluxe cinema, film one at Port Harcourt shopping mall, Port Harcourt pleasure park cinema etc, from the movies houses to bars and eateries and eventually end up at the nightclubs to listen to Dee Jays (DJs) performing live and dishing out the latest club bangers.
    Most of these nightclubs are located at the GRA phase 2 axis of the city and other parts of the metropolis they include: MendianOgoyi place, Tombis a street, GRA Phase 2. Edizwinebar, Emeyal street, GRA phase 2, platinum, Hotel Presidential GRA phase 2 Casablanca nightclub and Karokee, GRA phase 2 others are the Grib, William Jumbo street, Liquid lounge and Bar, Onne Road, Morella, Amadi flats Lesuka, Peter Odili Road, The Hub, Odili Road Port Harcourt among others.
    Nightlife in the city has also brought brisk business to those in the fast food and suya business as most times guys and their babes rush out of the clubs to have quick meals. Taxi drivers are also not left out as they hang around these clubs and bars to take passengers home after a night full of fun.

By: Jacob Obinna

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Nollywood Veteran Actor, Bruno Iwuoha Bows Out

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The news of his death on April 10, 2021, shook Nollywood. His fans and colleagues knew he had a prolonged battle with diabetes, but didn’t know the notable Nollywood actor, Bruno Obinna Iwuoha, would bow to the disease, even after a news website had hinted that he was responding to treatment.
Aged 68 and survived by a wife and six children, the remains of the award-winning actor was committed to mother earth this Thursday in his hometown UmunumoUmuanunu in Ehime Mbano Local Council of Imo State.
In a condolence message, President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Ejezie Emeka Rollas commiserated with the immediate family members, friends and fans and prayed, “God would comfort them at this moment of grief.”
Rollas described Iwuoha as a “dependable actor and committed practitioner who will be surely missed.” A gifted actor who acts with credulity and mien, Iwuoha hit the right note and became a household name when he interpreted delightfully, the role of a catholic priest in the award winning flick, Sins of the Flesh, which starred Africa’s best ChiomaChukwukaAkpotha in a lead role. It was his deep and inimitable interpretation of the role that got the jury of the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) to unanimously declare him the best supporting actor in a leading role.
For Bruno Iwuoha, that award, which he received personally at the 2007 edition of the AMAA held in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State capital, was confirmation of a dream fulfilled. Right from when he joined in a little over two decades ago, Bruno had always wished that in no time he would emerge a constant visitor in most homes. And true to expectation, that confirmation came and it came in no time.
Though Uncle Bruno, as younger colleagues roundly call him, confessed that he grew up with a healthy appetite for acting, he never imagined that acting would become something of a full time job for him. Until he passed on this April, his life story took a different dimension. Not only did the grey haired actor cut a swath among the industry’s recognisable faces, he was roundly regarded as one of the good men of the movie because of the streak of successes he recorded as an actor.
But Iwuoha didn’t walk into acting just for the fun of it. The last time he spoke to this reporter, Uncle B as he is also called, revealed that he had a flair for acting and was at a time head of his school dramatic and literary society. It was there that he first struck his acting stuff.
But he didn’t continue after school. Young Iwuoha wasn’t convinced then that acting would put food on his table. So, he made up his mind to do some buying and selling, as well as supplies. Later, he got a steady supply job and became a registered contractor with the National Fertilizer Company.
But even as he bought and sold for profit, something inside of him yearned for some acting on stage and screen. The voice became clearer as days pass. But Iwuoha would not be distracted or so he thought. He continued trading until he bowed to what he said was the ‘superior pressure’ of the voice within.’
“It was the day that I returned from one of my business trips that I met a letter inviting me for an audition; that was how it started,” Iwuoha recalled.
Indeed, it took that decision to honour the audition invitation for Iwuoha’s music chair to turn full circle. That day turned out the last day that the actor with a distinctive feature-grey hair bought and sold any commodity. He took to full time acting and confessed then that he is likely not to consider quitting motion picture practice for any other job because of the gains that has come with his involvement in motion picture practice as an actor.
An easy-going personality, Iwuoha’s first take in the movie industry was as a supporting actor in Lost Kingdom written by EkennaIgwe and directed by Ndubuisi Oko. From Lost Kingdom, he marched on as producers sought him out each time they wanted a steady and reliable actor who will throw himself to a role once he gets one. Unlike his peers who played same role in every movie, Iwuoha versatility showed when he moved easily from one role to another. If he was not playing a chief in one, he would be playing a devious and or good father or uncle in another and or a priest in yet another. He was soon to be named an all rounder.

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