15 December 2012

Nigeria: We Have a Music Scene Not an Industry - Bez

Bez is an alternative soul artist ho made a giant entry into the Nigeria music scene in 2011. This native of Nasarawa State spoke to SAMUEL ABULUDE on his genre of music and how he is coping with stardom among other issues.

Emmanuel Bezhiwa Idakula, also known as Bez is a young man with tall dreams, ready to not only make impact but also add value to lives as he combine music with public speaking.

He was nominated in six categories in the Hip-hop Awards 2012 alongside established twin-act, PSquare. This is no mean feat for this young graduate of Information Technology from Covenant University, who started his music career only in 2007. Although he did not win in any of the categories, he all the same registered his entry into the music scene both home and abroad.

There is much passionand craze for music in his family that at age nine is father taught him to play the guitar all of which fed his insatiable desire for music and his eventual debut in the music scene.

Looking back at the unfolding of events in his life, Bez's dark moment was losing his father during his Junior Secondary School days at Loyola Jesuit College, which made life a little difficult for him as he was faced with the difficulty of paying his school fees.Respite came his way shortly, when the parents of a friend and classmate, who died in an accident, offer to anonymously pay his school fees.

The Jos-born artist in his usual soft spoken manner narrates how his love for music started. "From the onset, I never wanted music as a career; I saw it more likeahobby because music was something I grew up with. I wanted to be a designer and later an architect but I eventually studied Information Technology. The chancellor of Covenant University, Bishop Oyedepo whom we always address as Papa often preaches about discovering purpose.

This spur me to further research on purpose by studying other related literatures including'Purpose Driven Life' by Rick Warren, 'He Motions'by T.D Jakes and bishop Oyedepo's books.

I got to realise after researching that I am here on earth to add value to people's life. The world is a stage where you come to fulfill your own your part in the overall purpose of humanity and leave. I found out that my purpose is to add value to people and the only way to fulfill it is through music".

Why then did he choose alternative soul music? He had this to say, "Soul is the core of everything you do. If you listen to South Africa House, Soul is the main music. Your sound delivery can be soul but your beat could either be traditional, hip-hop and so on.

"My genre of music is not mainstream; it is like that of Asa and other soul musicians, the music is always relevant, it is not a vogue thing. My kind of music, Soul/Jazz music has more acceptance in developed countries than in African countries, where it is still evolving."

Apart from playing the guitar, I also play the piano. My expression is towards Soul music and as I grew in it, I introduce more sounds into my music. The more I play instruments, the more I perform. I also want to record more live performances because soul music is classical. I am working on putting more African flair into my music since it is still evolving in Africa.

Bez, who released his album last year, has continued to soar higher in his career. He speaks further about is album."My album, Super Sun is a 15-track album. It was released in July 2011. The remix of Super Sun featured Eva, Ice Prince and Eldee. Another track, That Stupid song featured Praiz.

Asked about his motivations? He replied, "Yeah, from the onset, I knew what obtains in the Nigerian market that is why I didn't even go to Alaba. We had to print 500 CDs abroad, well packaged and brought it into the country. We started selling at Silverbird Cinemas, The Palms and other brick and mortar stores. Gradually it started selling at those stores and they kept requesting for more copies. "

Earlier, Bez had released two singles in 2009, titled Zuchiya-Daya, meaning stop pretending. In 2010, he released a video, More of You, which is an acoustic song and also Super Sunsingle.

What then prompted the name, That Stupid Song, he smiled and noted that it was all out of sheer creativity.

Bez reminisced his growing up days listening to Michael Jackson, Madonna, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and other great artistes. My sister handles Taruwa, a hang out where artistes perform a lot of Jazz and Soul music, which further made me to start enjoying Blues songs and Jazzists like George Benson, Earl Klugh, Dave Koz, Kenny G, the saxophonists.

On his journey so far, he said,"We have been so much on the road this year, we have been to Texas and some other cities in the States. We have toured Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa. I also went to Boston for a speaking engagement to tell my story. I believe in education, so I visit schools to encourage students about takingtheir studies seriously because education has taken me this far.

Recently, I visited Obafemi Awolowo University,(OAU) to speak to the students. I wouldn't have had the influence I have today, if I were not educated, something I almost lost when my father died.

One of the highpoints of Bez's young music career is the Premier of his music on Black Entertainment Television,(BET) which brought him to international limelight.

I am glad about that it because, I am the first Nigerian to be showcased on world premiere. It actually speaks of my name Bezhiwa, which means Man of the first. So, I'll always be the man of the first.

On my role model, I read a lot. My role models are those who hold onto their beliefs. I am a Christian; I believe in hard work but I respect people like Tuface because he has managed to stay on top. Cobhamsis self-reliant and a genius too. Imagine,he recentlytravelled to the US alone some weeks ago, his driver just dropped him off at the airport and he got on the plane by himself. He walks around his house unassisted. As a music producer, he knows where the sounds are and they are all connected to his computer", Bez said.

When his opinion on Nigerian music industry was sorted, Bezthrew a bombshell saying, "We have no music Industry; what we have is a fast growing music scene, which we are all happy about. There are no structures on ground that makes it an industry like other African countries where there is a thriving music industry.

The government and the relevant stakeholders have not put in place what will make ours an industry. Though COSON (Copyright Organisation Society of Nigeria) is doing something, but it is not enough. We do not get royalties for our song or videobeing played on radio or TV as it is done in developed countries."

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