The Need To Support R&B/Soul Music In Nigeria


In this report, SAMUEL ABULUDE looks at the soul/jazz music genre in Nigeria sometimes referred to as alternative soul, and the need for more patronage. 

Before the advent of Hiphop genre and its variations, R&B and soul songs attracted massive followership from both old and young. This was partly because of the radio and TV stations were filled with songs from great performers and international stars. The lyrics captivated all who cared to listen. Together with pop music from the western world, all these genre thrived even as our indigenous music grew with us. Now in the 21st century where we are now in the midst of a music revolution, Afro pop music and our own Hip pop sounds has evolved largely filled with lyrics that are unhealthy to younger generation and videos that promote nudity, materialism and violence. They call it commercial music but the music hardly lasts three years. Indeed music is the soul of life and musicians and their lifestyles influences the perception of the youth. All genres of music ought to be supported and it behoves on the artiste to market his or her music giving the populace largely the youths something that resonates with them.

It is evident that Soul/R&B music is not popular with the youths of our generation like Afro pop and Hip hop and it affects the patronage. Asa is a Nigerian artiste who sold her brand of soul music to Nigerians and the world. She worked hard to hone her craft and has become and international singer based in France. The singer hosted her 1st concert tagged Asa Live in Nigeria on May Day. The Expo hall of Eko Hotel & Suites was filled up with fans, guests and adults hungry to see live that unique artiste with a voice that they’ve heard many times on radio and seen perform overseas. Asa said at the live concert, “I have longed to perform in front of my people all these years and with or without sponsors, I will perform”. This was a surprise that an artiste with such a huge followership at home and abroad could not get brands or corporate bodies to sponsor her event. Imagine if it was a Tu Baba, or even Olamide, Davido or wizkid, brands/companies will line up to sponsor such an event. This buttresses the point that Soul music gets their support/patronage outside the shores of the country.

Alternative Soul artiste, Bez who was at the event and performed noted that if Asa was a hip hop artiste, perhaps she would have gotten such patronage. He said, “Asa did not get a sponsor because companies do not expect she would get the crowd she got that night. You can see that the place was full and it was a success. Patronage did not come because the expectation of the companies was that her music won’t attract the massive crowd it did that night. But we do perform at corporate events, festival and campus tours”.

Soul music deserves more support because the artistes who mostly perform live with an instrument, sing lyrics that touch the depth of the soul.

Chocolate City artiste, Ruby Gyang said that corporate gigs are the best supporters of non pop music in Nigeria, though more can be done. On the Asa live concert, she was of the opinion that Asa should have stayed more connected to her home base. Speaking on the nature of Nigerian music and the patronage, Ruby said, “Media in Nigeria is pop driven. Music that doesn’t fit that format is given comparatively little attention.  Soul music would do so much better if given more attention by radio stations and Tv stations.”

Even Reggae artistes are also urging the radio stations to . their music. Our Pop music had taken the air waves and artistes wanting to use their music to launch thenselves pay radio stations to air their music, a notion reggae artistes differ, that if the music is good, it should be played.

Another soul music upcoming artiste, Naythan and Harmony Shades (his band name) dissecting why this non-patronage is evident, said that radio stations and the media should support the genre because of its importance to mind development. “Soul music is synonymous with mellow music and is overtly reflective of Nature, earth,tranquillity and depthness in my own opinion. This can clearly be seen in the lyrics of songs categorised under the genre of soul. The Beat of music has a direct effect on the human heartbeat and the melody and rhythm balances the entire mood by ignited the deepest feelings of peace and satisfaction. Many who tend to listen to these types of music have a tendency to  think deeply and be imaginative. And in this state,the mind can easily  reboot itself,and function more effectually. It is hard to see the youth these days subscribe to music such as this which obviously doesn’t come with the upbeat and  repetitive sounds of popular commercial music and this is probably a deviation of the regular norm as it was many years ago.”

Speaking further, the artiste who performed recently at Ebony Life TV program said, “If indeed we desire the patronage of soul music,what role is being played by the easily accessible radio OAPs and Disc jockeys who at will prefer the upbeat types of music. Soul music and it’s other similar genres like Neo – soul,Ambient and progressive rock lay more emphasis on lyrical contents that are imaginative which gets the listener taking time to understand the information being passed across within pleasurable background of sweet music.”

“Bez and Dakolo have managed to get a few  endorsements here and there..Bez is more of an international musician and goes on tours frequently,same with Asa who’s based in France. They need more shows, tours around Nigeria especially in different towns. It is left with the artist to be creative in his trade,putting up a display that is exclusive and unique,even in ones stage craft,such would attract every lover of good music found in very influential organisations. Music is more than just recording…There is also stave craft and soul music thrives more when the artist can perform live on stage,” says Nathan.

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