- Even the world’s top Francophone female artiste (Angelique Kidjo), did not crossover internationally, until she sang in Yoruba.
*Photo L-R: Teni, Davido *
By Reno Omakri
For every decade of Nigeria’s existence as an independent nation, music of Yoruba origin has dominated our nation, and now it is dominating the world.
• Bobby Benson dominated the 60s
• Abami Fela Kuti over dominated the 70s
• King Sunny Ade and Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey dominated the 80s
• Sir Shina Peters and King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall dominated the 90s.
• Paul Play Dairo shared dominance with a non Yoruba artist (Tuface Idibia) in the 2000s
• D’Banj the Koko Master shared dominance with non Yoruba artistes (PSquare) in the 2010s
• Davido, Wizkid and Burna Boy (non Yoruba, but his music is obviously influenced by the late Fela Kuti) and Asake are dominating in the here and now. And not just dominating, but selling out stadia, like the O2 Arena and Madisson Square Garden, amongst others.
Their female artistes are not left out. Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Asa, Simi, Teni, Seyi Shay, dominate locally and internationally with their girl power!
How do they do it, that even where they sing wholly or partly in Yoruba, their music is able to crossover locally and internationally?
Christy Essien Igbokwe was quoted as saying she would not have made a breakthrough in the music industry without her anthem Seun rere, which was performed entirely in Yoruba.
Throughout the Black world, no other ethnic group has been able to CONSISTENTLY breakthrough in the music industry internationally while singing wholly or partially in their native tongue. I am not saying that some others do not sing in their native tongues. What I am saying is that they have not been able to crossover internationally while singing in their native language.
Caribbean reggae artistes sing in English or patois. African American R’nB, Jazz, Soul and rap artistes sing in English. Black Brazilians crossover with Portuguese. Francophone artistes (with the exception of Manu Dibango), crossed over with French. South African artistes crossed over with English (with the exception of Brenda Fassie and Mariam Makeba).
Even the world’s top Francophone female artiste (Angelique Kidjo), did not crossover internationally, until she sang in Yoruba.
There is something about that language and the musical genres that the Yoruba have introduced that can permanently put Nigeria on the world map for good.