Jon Ogah who won the first edition of Naija Sings, has been somewhat of the map for a while. Ephraim Adiele of THE TRENT recently caught up with him.
In the course of the interview, Jon, who recently released his debut album, “Uncle Suru” talks about his career, Uncle Suru and the future.
What have you been up to since winning Glo Naija Sings?
A lot has been going on these past years, I went to University in the UK and I got my baccalaureate degree in Business Administration. I recorded a couple of songs that I released as singles over the years and after a long period of recording I have finally released my album.
You recently released a single in anticipation of your album, how has the reception been so far?
Releasing Uncle Suru was a wise thing to do, especially for me as an artist. I wanted people to listen to it and immediately know what to expect in Jon Oogah’s body of work. I wanted to build expectation and it turned out that everyone that heard it felt nostalgic and could relate.
Suru was my senior in Command Secondary School Jos. He was the choirmaster of FCS. The very first time he heard me sing, he called me and forced me to join the choir. It was for my benefit, I got so immersed in music, from the Acapella Collection to J Moss and Kim Burrell and a host of other amazing Jazz and gospel artistes. But he died in one of Boko Haram’s bomb blasts in Kaduna while ushering people into church in Kaduna. I was so affected by his death that I wrote and dedicated the album to him. The album is a letter to him, telling him that I am pursuing my dreams.
What genre of music would you say you do?
I would classify my music as Alternative World Music. It is a mixture of Afro folk, highlife, soul and pop.
Do you think that Nigeria is ready for your brand of music?
Well I think that Nigerians have always been ready for it. It just hasn’t been an option in the national playlist due the fact that it may not have been done and if it was done it faded away and if it did not fade, then it had a subdued effect. But Nigerians have always been ready.
What’s your favourite song off the Uncle Suru Album?
I love �Olorunmaje.” You know this album is about chasing your dreams and achieving or attaining your goals. All the songs come from an honest place and that is why people will be able to relate
What artist local or foreign would you say you look up to?
I must first start with the Pan Africanist Angelique Kidjo, I think she is amazing and the epitome of a true African artist. Next are Asa and Nneka I regard them highly for their amazing body of work and achievements thus far. I like Benjamin Clementine, Laura Mvula and Jimmy Nevis and Beatenberg.
If you could change anything abou the Nigerian music scene, what would it be?
Well I guess it would be the lack of diversity or should I say the lack of balanced diversity in even, I say even the African genres of music. I believe that we have boxed up some genres of African music that spurred change and substituted them for some other watery genres.
If you could feature an artist 1 Nigerian and the one foreign, who would it/they be?
It would be Nneka, because I love her style, her voice and the way she writes music and I love her brand as well. I would feature Emeli Sande, I like that she has drawn from Nina Simmone’s poetic flair, and she has a powerful voice. It would be epic.
Has your family been supportive?
Yes my family has been very supportive of my music and me. My songs become hits in the home before they air on the airways.
Has the Naija Sings platform given you any added advantage?
Well definitely, people recognize me because I was on a show that had a strong brand. Thus people have created links between the show and myself.
What has your biggest challenge been so far?
I think it has been me standing in the way of my own happiness and peace of mind. Some times you may find yourself dwelling on the negative and not what could be, what could be achieved. I surrounded myself with awesome people who see the good in me and appreciate me for what I am.
What’s your best stage performance ever?
I think that is yet to occur for me. The future holds something heavy that I can only dream of.
Any words for your fans?
Yes, keep striving towards perfection but while doing so; do not forget to appreciate the beauty of imperfections. Don’t give up until you take your last breath, but at the same time beware of the grandeur of delusion.
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