Celebrated percussionist, Sikiru Adepoju, who labored with Ebenezer Obey and the Inter-Reformers band within the 80s, is the one Nigerian to win a Grammy Award.
He was a part of Mickey Hart’s group, Planet Drum, whose title album gained the Grammy Award for Finest Up to date World Music Album in 1991, the primary 12 months there was a Grammy in that class.
The speaking drum grasp was additionally a part of Mickey Hart’s group World Drum Challenge, whose title album gained the Grammy Award for Finest Up to date World Music Album at 2009 Grammy Awards.
On this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the artiste who not too long ago launched his ỌPẸ (Gratitude) album, speaks about his fulfilling profession and the way forward for Nigerian percussionists.
PT: Congrats on the discharge of your second album. Please inform us extra in regards to the album.
Sikiru: The aim of the album is to do my job and convey folks collectively, and tradition retains me on observe to do what I like to do. As a result of in that album, there are lots of people there from the Caribbean to Indian, to Latino; if you happen to listened to ‘Dide Africa’ (Wake Up Africa), I do know some Nigerians can be questioning why he mentioned ‘Dide Africa’. We’ve got the rock and roll, I’m a easy singer. We simply tried to roll the whole lot collectively to have a bit of little bit of the great things that we predict it’s going to attraction to our viewers as a result of we aren’t concentrating on only one viewers. We wish all people that listens to that album to have the ability to relate to the album no less than one observe. There are many a number of selections.
It’s a actually good title for the album it captures my journey and all I’ve gone by as a human being. Due to the whole lot I went by for this album to come back into fruition, there is no such thing as a different befitting title than “Ope”. Femi Ojetunde and I additionally produced the album.
PT: How lengthy have you ever been engaged on the album?
Sikiru: I’ve been engaged on this album for 22 years. So this album incorporates songs that I’ve been engaged on because the ’90s.
PT: Did you sing on this album together with percussioning?
Sikiru: Yeah, I did lots of again up singing.
PT: Have you ever ever thought-about being a singer?
Sikiru: Sure, however I’ve not likely gotten excited about being a lead singer. The one style the place percussionists are actually utilized in Nigeria are Juju, Fuji or highlife music.No, that’s why there should not many roles for percussionists in Nigeria. So my purpose is to introduce these devices to Western and nation music.
PT: Other than you and some different folks, percussionists and the folks behind the musicians should not recognised. Why is that this so?
Sikiru: The one method percussionists can get credit score is when they’re nicely represented within the media. Band homeowners and musicians want to understand their band members extra by giving them the much-needed credit score on their physique of music. As an illustration, I used to be part of Mickey Hart’s group, Planet Drum, whose title album gained the Grammy Award for Finest Up to date World Music Album in 1991 and it earned me a Grammy too. That was as a result of I used to be additionally recognised as having contributed to the album as a percussionist.
PT: Over time, plenty of Nigerian drummers have eloped whereas touring the world with notable musicians. What might be answerable for that?
Sikiru: Sure, and it’s as a result of they don’t seem to be handled nicely by the chief of the band and since they’re searching for a greater life and alternatives. They know there is no such thing as a future for them in the event that they keep, that’s the reason persons are working away. And once more, the issue once more is the cash they promise them to pay earlier than they depart dwelling will not be what they pay. That’s the reason they’re working away. So anyone working away, I don’t blame them, it’s the best way we deal with ourselves identical to animals. I can’t blame anyone for searching for a greater life.
PT: Does this additionally apply to you? How did you find yourself within the U.S?
Sikiru: I didn’t elope. It was Orlando Julius who introduced me to America. As a result of he lives in America, he needed his band members to stay in the identical location as him so he caused 18 of us.
PT: Do you’ve got any plans to mentor younger those that they will have good lives as percussionists?
Sikiru: I wish to allow them to know that they will certainly stay good lives however they should have one thing else supporting that percussion, after which depart the remaining to the creator. My suggestion for them is to have one thing supporting what they’re doing now to allow them to be comfortable despite the fact that they’re making a bit of cash on the aspect, aside from music.
Whilst I’m speaking to you proper now, I’m working. I’ve a job. I run a safety firm. So, I create respect for myself. Once I was taking part in for Ebenezer Obey, we obtained paid on Monday after we play on weekends. I now came upon that for me to go the place I’m to gather the cash, is a waste and I want more cash. So I made a decision to get a job to complement that cash. How a lot was in that envelope then? Possibly N100, N120 and that was within the 90s. So, that’s my message for my folks; create respect for your self. You could be doing all of your job from Monday to Friday and say you’ve got a present on Saturday. By the point you get to the present and it begins to rain it means the present shall be cancelled and there goes all the cash you had excessive hopes on.
So, I’m not going to sit down right here and deceive you that I don’t produce other sources of residing as a result of I stay in America. I gained’t do different issues. The reality is that in a present, the main focus is on the lead musician and never his band members. In the event that they wish to give the band cash, they offer the chief and he isn’t going to offer them a dime.
That’s my recommendation to folks again dwelling. They should have some type of backup job or enterprise to assist their percussionist job in an effort to create respect for themselves and stay higher lives.
PT: How do you intend to alter the narrative of how band leaders relate to band members?
Sikiru: So it’s a motion, a motion to empower the musicians, band members to face up for his or her rights. It doesn’t make sense for a musician to play and file with their band leaders and on the finish of their play, they don’t have something to indicate. It doesn’t make sense in any respect. That is the narrative that must be modified to empower musicians to face up for his or her rights.
PT: How lengthy have you ever been signed to MansMark Information?
Sikiru: We don’t have any contract as a result of we’re household. The white individuals who introduced Fela, Sunny Ade, Obey and co to tour Europe and America are actually retired. That is why MansMark Information has picked up the baton and is making certain that our legendary musicians succeed. So they create our folks over right here, promote them, take them round and so they return dwelling smiling.
PT: Are you able to relieve that second once you gained the Grammy in 1991 and 2009? Did you see it coming?
Sikiru: I didn’t see it coming. I wasn’t taking part in with Mickey Hart’s band to earn cash, or to make a reputation. I labored with him to approve of myself as a pupil within the college of studying. Mickey is a drummer like I’m who performed the drum set for ‘Grateful Lifeless’. Are you able to imagine particular person members in ‘Grateful Lifeless’ again then had teams of their very own? That was what gave me the curiosity to work extra and study from him. I used to be fairly intrigued as a result of again then, if you happen to labored with Sunny Ade and one other singer invited you to play a speaking drum on his venture, if you happen to try this and Sunny Ade finds out, you’re executed. You’ll be fired on the spot.
Mickey created the World Drum Challenge and included all our names on the album credit score after which it bagged a Grammy. I nonetheless can’t imagine it. So I obtained the Grammy? If it was my folks, solely Mickey would take the credit score however he (Mickey) didn’t try this. That’s what I’ve discovered right here, to deliver to my folks. I discovered that from Mickey and I’m practising it over right here. I wish to deliver as many stars, proficient percussionists, guitarists, as a lot as potential over right here and promote them.
That’s what I discovered from Mickey. He introduced all people collectively as a complete. Mickey solely sang a couple of times and it was even in spoken phrases, like a poem however he ensured that everybody who contributed to the album obtained the much-deserved recognition they deserved.
PT: Are you continue to in contact with Mickey?
Sikiru: Oh sure, he’s nonetheless lively, we now have a brand new album popping out quickly. It has been delayed due to Coronavirus. He’s alleged to be on a tour proper now. I nonetheless go on excursions too.
PT: Having gained the Grammy twice, do you see extra Nigerian artistes successful a Grammy too?
Sikiru: Something can occur, there may be nonetheless an opportunity. If you happen to come out with a great venture and it’s your time, a Grammy win is feasible. And when you have an enormous album launched to compete with.
PT: What kind of music do you suppose they need to be doing to extend their possibilities?
Sikiru: I’ve no reply to that query. Simply do one of the best and let God handle the remaining. Like what is occurring to me now too, I by no means anticipated it. I did my half, and I let the creator handle the remaining.
PT: When was the final time you had been within the nation?
Sikiru: The final time I got here to Nigeria was 2007.
PT: Do you miss Nigeria?
Sikiru: Nigeria has modified. I’ve missed Nigeria however it has fully modified. It’s very exhausting to get something. Now, in Nigeria to take pleasure in could be very exhausting as a result of there is no such thing as a extra operate. I’m actually sorry for Nigerian artistes now, I don’t understand how they will make something occur. It’s very exhausting and so dangerous. Earlier than I left a few years again, we might go play from one membership to a different in an evening.
PT: Are any of your youngsters taking after you in music?
Sikiru: None of my youngsters are taking after me in Music however possibly my grandchildren in the future. By no means say by no means, I actually didn’t know I’ll make any title by taking part in drums too. I’ve the present but when anyone instructed me I’ll make it by drums, I’ll inform the particular person to close up.
PT: At what level did you realise it was a giant deal?
Sikiru: I come from a musical household from Eruwa in western Nigeria. Our father chief Ayanleke Adepoju, taught my brothers Saminu, Lasisi, and I learn how to play the speaking drum very early. However we weren’t revered. They simply deal with you want an animal. So my purpose of coming to the united stateswith Orlando Julius was to not be a star. You recognize the creator already has plans for you and nothing are you able to do about it. You’ll be able to’t change it. What’s occurring in my life proper now. I had no concept that I used to be going to get the place I’m at the moment.
So I’m not disillusioned that none of my children are taking after me. All the kids taking part in drums now are my youngsters. I’m their father as a result of I’m comfortable to see them progress. Once I see them, I’m like wow! My dream has lastly come to move. It’s very fascinating and that’s what offers me the vitality to proceed doing what I’m doing. And God will assist MansMark Information to come back dwelling and decide these youngsters to see what we will do.
PT: You’ve been a percussionist all of your life, how lengthy do you see your self being this lively?
Sikiru: So long as the creator retains me alive. I’m going to proceed doing it however not me taking part in the drums myself, I’m going to offer my brothers on the market assist.
Picture credit- Prince Ayo Manuel Ajisebutu