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DEF JAM AFRICA ANNOUNCES FURTHER EXPANSION INTO CÔTE D’IVOIRE, CAMEROON AND SENEGAL
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments
First new artist signings include respected rappers; Tenor (Cameroon), Suspect 95 (Côte d’Ivoire), & Omzo Dollar (Senegal)

Universal Music Group’s label dedicated to supporting the best in African hip-hop talent and culture across the continent, extends reach into French-speaking Africa.

ABIDJAN, July 24, 2020– Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, today announced the further expansion of its Def Jam Africa division into three new markets within French-speaking Africa; Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Cameroon, effective immediately.

Def Jam Africa launched in May 2020, as the first label dedicated to representing the best hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap talent in Africa, and follows the blueprint of the iconic Def Jam Recordings label, which has led and influenced the cutting-edge in hip-hop and urban culture for more than 35 years.

Def Jam Africa will now have additional A&R, marketing and digital resources based within UMG’s offices in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Dakar (Senegal) and Douala (Cameroon), dedicated to discovering hip-hop talent across all French-speaking African markets and will operate under the leadership of Franck Kacou, Directeur Général, Universal Music Africa.

Kacou will work closely with Sipho Dlamini, CEO, Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa and Def Jam Africa teams in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria, to ensure the Def Jam Africa continues to identify and sign the best artist talent from across the entire continent.

The first flagship artist signings to join Def Jam Africa from these countries are highly respected and hugely popular rappers; Tenor (Cameroon), Suspect 95 (Côte d’Ivoire), & Omzo Dollar (Senegal), The trio joins some of Africa’s most influential artists and MC’s already on the label including: Cassper Nyovest, Nasty C, Larry Gaaga, Boity, Nadia Nakai, Tellaman, Tshego, Ricky Tyler & Vector.

In making the announcement, Franck Kacou said, “We are excited to launch Def Jam Africa in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Cameroon with three of Africa’s most exciting hip-hop artists; Tenor, Suspect 95 and Omzo Dollar. There is a wealth of domestic hip-hop talent here and in the surrounding countries, that has the potential to transcend language and geographical boundaries to appeal to audiences throughout Africa, France and beyond. I look forward to working alongside Sipho to expand our community of artists across the continent, and to help elevate hip-hop from Africa to new heights.

Jeff Harleston, interim Chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings said, “The reaction to the recent launch of Def Jam Africa showed the weight and respect that the Def Jam name and brand carries globally. We are excited to welcome these new markets to the Def Jam Family. It provides an important opportunity for audiences worldwide to discover the incredibly talented hip-hop artists emerging throughout the continent.”

Olivier Nusse, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music France said, “African hip-hop is one of the most exciting movements in music today. In recent years we have seen an increase in its popularity in France, but the appetite for African hip-hop continues to grow amongst audiences around the world. We are excited to further expand Def Jam Africa into Cameroon, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, and for these incredible artists to help build Def Jam Africa into the authentic and collaborative home of hip-hop across all of Africa.”

New tracks from Suspect 95 – ‘Merc*On’; Tenor – ‘Ce Que Je Veux’ and Omzo Dollar – ‘Dictature 1’ are released today on Def Jam Africa.

Click HERE to download artist images and label assets.

About Def Jam Recordings

Founded in 1984, Def Jam Recordings has represented the cutting-edge in hip-hop music for more than 35 years. Def Jam began as a maverick independent label inspired by downtown New York City’s vibrant street culture and the emerging sound of hip-hop, pioneered by iconic stars like LL Cool J, Slick Rick, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. Over the following two decades, Def Jam established its dominance with superstar acts like Jay-Z, DMX, Ja Rule, Method Man & Redman, Ludacris, Rihanna, Jeezy, and the inimitable Kanye West. Now in its fourth decade, Def Jam’s music and lifestyle has grown into a global brand – synonymous with creativity, quality and authenticity – encompassing a diverse roster of marquee and emerging stars like West, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Logic, Pusha T, Jadakiss, Vince Staples, Jeremih, Big Sean, YG, 2 Chainz, Dave East, and Jhene Aiko, among others. Today, Def Jam has reaffirmed its passion for and commitment to hip-hop culture and has expanded its global brand reach to become the most-followed major label on all major social media platforms.

About Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company.

Def Jam Africa artists on social media

Tenor https://www.instagram.com/tenorofficiel/?hl=fr

Suspect 95 https://www.instagram.com/suspect95_/?hl=fr

Omzo Dollar https://www.instagram.com/omzodollar/?hl=fr

Cassper Nyovest https://www.instagram.com/casspernyovest/?hl=en

Nasty C https://www.instagram.com/nasty_csa/?hl=en

Boity https://www.instagram.com/boity/?hl=en

Nadia Nakai https://www.instagram.com/nadianakai/?hl=en

Vector https://www.instagram.com/vectorthaviper/?hl=en

Larry Gaaga https://www.instagram.com/larrygaaga/?hl=en

Tellaman https://www.instagram.com/tellamanofficial/?hl=en

Tshego https://www.instagram.com/tshego_worldwide/?hl=en

Ricky Tyler https://www.instagram.com/rickytylershow/?hl=en

www.defjam.africa

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Nigerian Actress / Screen Writer Pens Coronavirus hit African lockdown series
June 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
Tunde Aladese

Tunde Aladese is an African film actress and screen writer, she won an Africa Academy Award in 2018, she has recently been a studying BA in Filmmaking at MetFilm School .As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, a  popular series called, Shuga went into a mini-series nightly show titled MTV Shuga Alone Together highlighting the problems of Coronavirus on 20 April 2020. Tunde is the screenwriter.

The show was originally  to be broadcast for 60 nights, but it’s now been increased to 65 nights and its backers include the United Nations. The series is based in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Cote D’Ivoire and the story is told through with on-line conversations between the main characters. In the Q and A below she discusses the series and her career plans

Do you remember how you fell in love with films and writing? Was there a particular film/ script?  Did it make to feel a particular way? Anything growing up that pushed you in this particular direction? 

This is a difficult one because it’s never really just one thing. It’s the gradual growth of a lifelong romance. My love for writing started with prose, making sorry imitations of any book I enjoyed in order to somehow prolong the experience that the book had given me. Cinemas weren’t much of a thing in Nigeria at the time when I was growing up but VCR was big business and watching movies was a big family pastime.

It’s hard to pick just one film because the exposure was constant, and the genres were varied. It was the eighties so there was a lot of that B movie style action. Also, a lot of the glam mini-series type content, usually centred around a woman who succeeded against all odds. There was ‘The Sound of Music’ which my siblings and I could quote in its entirety. Arthouse came later, as options widened. I didn’t have a proper understanding of how films came to be for quite a while and a couple of appearances on kids’ variety shows were a surreal experience.

I guess primary school drama club was my first proper sense of trying to create a narrative out of thin air and get other people to help bring it to life. But I can say that I fell in love with the film business, this idea of actors and directors and storytellers on screen after reading biographies of some old Hollywood movie stars between the ages of 10 and 13.

I think that was when I began to understand the process of how all that came to the screen. The possibility of anything like that being a tangible and viable career plan, came much later. 

Please expand on the origins of when and why you decided that career in the screen industry was for you. 

I’m not quite sure I decided. I think the timing was fortunate for me. My first job after university led to an introduction between my boss and a producer who was about to make a radio drama series for the BBC in Nigeria. My boss showed him some ideas I had put down and I got invited to be part of a writers’ room, something I’d never heard of. I couldn’t believe someone paid me that much money (not a huge amount but at the time I was making almost nothing) to do something I’d been doing for fun all my life. I figured ‘I could get used to this…’ Success was not immediate but over the next couple of years, enough opportunities came my way that when an international cable company became interested in producing Nigerian series, I actually had a little experience under my belt and could pitch myself for some writing opportunities.

Tunde Aladese  won an Africa Academy Award in 2018
Tunde Aladese won an Africa Academy Award in 2018

Why did you choose Metfilm school? What’s unique about it? What were you experiences there? What were your education experiences beforehand? Where did you grow up and where did you go to college / university… what did you study before? 

My first degree was in English Literature, from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. After almost 10 years working professionally  as a screenwriter, mostly in television, I wanted new challenges and a wider canvas. I thought learning formally about all aspects of film production would help me with that. Choosing Metfilm was a combination of timing, location (Berlin had been popping up a lot in my timeline in the months preceding), language and investigating their alumni and the things they had gone on to do since leaving the school. It’s a great way to study the European arthouse film aesthetic, which I was very interested in, without having to take the time to learn a whole new language. And because it’s an English speaking school in a very European city, you get to study with students from a wide variety of countries from all over the world.

Tell me about MTV Shuga – how did the project come about about? 60 episodes – it’s quite an ask… how did you manage to complete it? 

We’re still trying to! And I’m not going to deny that it is a challenge. I just take it one block at a time, and fortunately I don’t have to do it all on my own. There’s a co-head writer and co-director who alternates blocks with me and of course, the SAF team. I had worked on 2 previous seasons of the series, including one season as Head Writer and had therefore had some contact with some members of the team. They reached out within the first couple of weeks of lockdown in Germany and told me about this idea they were throwing around, and asked whether it was something I would be interested in coming on board for. I’d been sitting home for 2 weeks, reading about everything going on all around the world, from news headlines to social media posts sharing people’s emotions, so I knew as soon as they asked that there was potential here. I didn’t imagine at the time that it would be 65 episodes (yeah, it’s 65 now)! We’re recording 41-50 this week and then my co-head takes over again for the next batch.

What’s the response been like? From the audience and the industry? 

To be honest? I don’t know. I usually try to stay away from comments because you get drawn in by the good stuff and then one negative comment and you might spend the rest of the day overthinking. I do understand that reactions and feedback from the first few episodes was quite exciting. It’s been challenging trying to find ways to maintain and increase the momentum and interest. But I did say I was looking for challenges, right?

Tunde is the screenwriter  of the mini-series nightly show titled MTV Shuga Alone Together highlighting the problems of Coronavirus
Tunde is the screenwriter of the mini-series nightly show titled MTV Shuga Alone Together highlighting the problems of Coronavirus

What are you working on now, what are your plans for the future? 

I’m almost done with this season of Shuga and there are a couple of things lined up for me to switch over to from next month. But nothing that I am at liberty to talk about right now.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about becoming a screen writer / considering a career in the screen industries? 

Read a lot of books, watch a lot of movies. Figure out what you like, what excites and moves you and why. And then try to put it into your own work. Write, write, write. Even when you hate it, keep at it. I had a period of about 6 years from secondary school into university where, everything I wrote, I hated soon after. But that made me question why I hated it and what I needed to do differently. The trick is to keep writing so that when an opportunity comes your way, you have something to show of your ability that will make them at least consider you. Don’t wait for someone to find you and make you a writer. And then of course, seek out those opportunities. I know this is a bit glib, and won’t work out for everyone, but it will for some. Oh, and I should mention this magic trick. The first time I went to a writers’ workshop, everyone there introduced themselves as a writer except me. I didn’t think I had the right to claim that about my hobby. The people present in the room made me say it ‘I’m a writer’. When I returned to my life, I started introducing myself that way. And people remembered. And the calls started coming.

*Q & A facilitated by Ruth Sparkes and MetFilm School

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Nigeria:Bond Ebigbo Stanley Publishes His Book “Grounded Ways To The Music Industry”
March 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

According to Bond, “this book touches on developing your talent, branding yourself both online and offline, carving a niche for yourself and building a formidable fan base. It also sheds light on networking as an artiste and building relationships within and outside the music industry”. Grounded promotions have been a force in the artiste and music management business for a long time and Bond Stanley the founder and CEO is well versed in the music business so any artiste, manager, enterainment practitioner, intending investor or label owner who gets a copy of this insightful book, reads and applies the principles outlined will benefit a lot from a well-experienced music executive.

 The music sector is one of the industries that houses the most number of personalities in need of direction on how to become a successful brand. Potential performing artistes are seeking knowledge on how to score hit songs and develop a marketable brand while indie labels are in pursuit of how to go about promoting unknown artistes into mega brands.

With all these in mind, Bond Ebigbo Stanley, the C.E.O of Grounded Promotions, with years of experience in managing some of the most successful artistes in Africa like Phyno and Runtown, authored his book titled “Grounded Ways To The Music Industry”. His experience in the music industry spans over a decade with diverse roles: artiste manager, promoter, blogger, PR person, event manager, booking agent and road manager. He tapped into these experiences to write this book with a view to helping both the established and upcoming artiste and also to contribute positively to the fast growing Nigerian music industry.

According to Bond, “with my wealth of experience in the music industry, I founded a mentorship class where I trained young people, including artiste managers, on how to become successful in the music industry”. I also created a Talent Search, GROUNDED TALENT SEARCH  – geared at discovering and encouraging new/young talent in music and mentoring them”. Indigenous hiphop act B Shine Akabuike based in Enugu was the winner of the maiden edition in 2017.

This book “GROUNDED WAYS TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY” isn’t just for upcoming artistes. It is for everyone and anyone who desires to make/have a career in the music industry either as a talent manager, curator of music or an artiste. Even outside the music industry, the guidelines in this book can be applied anywhere and in any field.

Bond, a native of Nnewi LGA of Anambra State, Nigeria, was born and raised in Enugu, Enugu State. He moved to Lagos state where he lived most of his life and acquired all his knowledge in the music industry.

He currently resides in New Jersey United States of America.

You can connect and interact with Bond via his social media platforms
TWITTER/INSTAGRAM @bondgrounded

Link to purchase the book (available in hard copies and eBook)- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0851MB3P5/ref=mp_s_a_1_7?keywords=grounded+ways&qid=1582358944&sr=8-7

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German Based Gambian Singer Release New Single ‘Always there’
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Jarck Boy, Germany-based Gambian reggae-dancehall artiste has release a new song called ‘Always there’ as part of his new Extended Play, EP called Ghetto Defender.

The EP will contain six tracks and so far two tracks have been recorded at Chosan Bi Records. The two tracks are ‘Gambia kankiling’ with a video making waves now in various TV stations and online platforms and ‘always there’

Jarck Boy explained that The ‘Gambia kankiling’ song depicts that Gambians should come together despite our political, religious and tribal difference to move the country forward for the betterment of all.

He added that the second song ‘Always There’ is a love song depict then men’s should always be there for their loves ones like wife, finance and girlfriends.

According to him, the EP will also talks about youths in the ghetto their plights to stardom by inspiring and encouragement them to stand firm to live in a descent life in society.

He promised to release more videos from the EP. “After releasing my new reggae album from FULL100 MUSIC Label, am very   busy in the studio again working on his upcoming EP this year again. 2020 still alive. Jah mission continues to uplift and spread the divine love and unity, watch out for another conscious hit,” he said.

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Show-Me Festival Underway in Zurich
January 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay 

The project co-ordinators of Show-me are Cameroonian musician, Blick Bassy (left), and Swiss journalist, Elisabeth Stoudmann (right).

Show-me is 2nd Edition of the first digital live music forum dedicated to self-entrepreneur artists in solo and duo format is currently underway in Zurich Switzerland at the legendary Moods club from 24th -26th January 2020. A crowdfunding project by Show-me, music, community, and festival, Zürich. 

The project co-ordinators are Cameroonian musician, Blick Bassy (left), and Swiss journalist, Elisabeth Stoudmann (right). Coming from the same milieu but with different skill sets, their aim is to cause ripples in the musical world via the creation of Show-me.

It features the showcases of 10 of the best DIY artists of the moment, selected this summer via an online competition. Show-me also serves to connect these new independent artists with specially invited professionals who will inform and coach them.

Lastly, Show-me offers a collective music writing exercise in a professional studio that helps the musicians to forge contacts and practice group collaboration.

The goals of Show-me
Today, getting into the music business independently is full of constraints and difficulties. Show-me was created to allow these entrepreneurial artists to be seen and heard in the flesh by music business specialists, as well as online. Show-me also offers them several useful tools.

At the end of the event, each nominee will go home with: a booking date at a festival or club, the filming and broadcast of their showcase in HD, a series of quality photographs, advice from programmers, bookers and other music business professionals, and lastly, the chance to make a studio recording.

Last year, during the first edition of Show-me, some nominated artists were able to launch careers after their participation. 

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German based Sierra-Leone Praise worship leader Out with New single ‘Bow and Worship’
January 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Cyrus Richard Togba popularly known as Cyrus Richie is a praise-worship leader, singer-songwriter and a recording artist currently based in Germany.

Born in Sierra Leone, Cyrus grew up in a God-fearing home where Christian values were instilled in him from a very tender age.

His commitment to Church activities which always kept him around the environ, helped him quickly discover his love for music and calling as a minister. Ever since Cyrus Richie became actively involved in the choir of every Church he joined.

According to him, “His journey with the Lord hasn’t been a smooth one,” but life experiences and challenges have strengthened his resolve to serve Him (God) more.

Having served in various ministries for years, Cyrus Richie made his official debut as a recording artist in 2018 after storming the gospel music scene with his first single “Most High God”.

He followed the well-received track with “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” released in January 2019.

The talented worshiper is set to kick-off the coming new year (2020) on a high note as he recently announced the release of a brand new single “Bow and Worship” featuring Gambia-based music minister Kalusian. 

Anticipation among fans has been heightened towards the upcoming release due on January 11th, 2020.

Cyrus Richie is happily married to Mrs. Fatmata Togba and they are blessed with four lovely children.

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Gambia:European Tour Wrap-Up, T. Smallz Tells Fans Thank You, Expect more Projects in 2020
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

T.Smalls

T.Smalls

One of Gambia’s finest singers and songwriter T. Smallz, has commended his fans across Europe for supporting him during his recent European tour in Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria and Belgium was a huge success.

He also commended promoters, Djs, in Europe for having the trust and confidence in him in hiring his service in concerts across Europe, hoping that next year tour will be on fire again.

“You are the best keeping the fire blazing till me meet again let keep the vibes going,”

Katato, as widely called assured his fans across the globe to expect more projects in 2019 and the upcoming album ‘Level Low’

The tour started on 20th July- 30th August, 2019, was organised by Warriors in a Dance and Katato Entertainment, paving the way for many. He is one of Gambian artistes who always tour Europe annually and returns home.

T Smallz performed at revered clubs and entertainment venues such as Pays Club, Club Casablanca, Karlsruhe, Club Calwer Stuttgart, Diamond Dance Café and Halle Saale all in Germany.

He performed at Austria, Vienna; in August entertain the Na Nang Club.

In Italy, he performed at the Playa Catania Lido Jolly Club and the Replay Club in Bologna, after moving to Sweden where he performed at the Styrso festival and then wrapping things up in Belgium.

He was speaking to journalists shortly before leaving the shores of The Gambia, telling them the objective of the tour is to reach out to fan-bases across the globe.

An international star singer, Smallz said the tour is necessary because not only Gambians listen to his golden voice over radio and podcasts. “It is prudent to do more shows in Europe to build a wider audience of followers and contacts, has a studio session with artistes, video shooting, sessions with deejays, producers and promoters across Europe.”

According was huge people are loving the vibes in Europe, as his new ‘Problem’ featuring Lil Omz  was big in Europe and disclosed he shot a video for the song ‘Elafta Elafta’, the first single from his album in-making ‘Level Low’.

“This is a big uplift for my music representing Gambia across the globe and at the same time educating and entertaining my global fans.  I commended all Gambian and non who come to attended the shows in their various cities,” Smallz, also widely referred to as Katato -troublemaker for English, said.

“We commend them, however, we urge them to do more, and to do better for Gambia music to cross borders,” the 2013 Nominated Male artiste of the year said.

He urged Gambian DJs to keep supporting and embracing Gambian music by playing it in their various concerts because a lot of good music is coming outta Gambia.

 

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Universal Music Nigeria releases Jizzle’s Debut Album, ‘Finally’
August 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Jizzle

By: Bakary Ceesay
Jizzle

 Finally, Universal Music Nigeria releases Gambia’s afro pop artiste  Jizzle’s 1st album, Finally.  There have been many months of anticipation for the album, from the Biggest In The Game artist. 

 The album is made up of twelve tracks representing the sounds of Afro pop, Afrobeat, and Afrofuzion with elements of Hip Hop.

The lyrics are very catchy with a sing along type of vibrations with topics that all elements of his fans can identify with.  As a multi-talented artist, Jizzle has produced five songs on the album with the production from top Gambian producers Shyboy, Endy Official, and J Live Music. Machine Man Tim from the UK and J Masta from Sweden also make hot beats on the album.

Jizzle is dubbed as the artist in the Gambia that can take Gambian music to an international market and make it successfully on the mainstream platform.  “My main goal with my music is to take Gambian music to the next level.  Finally means the world to me and I put a lot of myself in it for the world to love and enjoy,” expresses Jizzle.

He features a number of West African Artists, Dip Doundou Guiss, Samba, Peuzzi, Bm Jaay, and Hakill from Senegal.  Shaydee represents Nigeria and Gee from The Gambia.  Jizzle is a very unique type of artist and his style is very different compared to a lot of artists. He is able to capture his audience through a variation of different languages from English to Mandinka, Fula, and Wolof.

 “I am very happy with the response that I have been getting from my first album, Finally.  I feel like the whole world loves this project. The outpour of love and support for my first album has been breathtaking. I am humbled by my fans and ask that continue to buy my music,” explains Jizzle in jubilation.

 Jizzle does not take for granted his natural musical ability and quality. He employs both exuberance and brainpower to pull off conscious, sweet songs viable in today’s pop-culture. Finally, is a testament to Jizzle’s love for music and natural star quality.

 He  is currently embarking on a three-week European Tour in Sweden, Italy, and Germany to promote Finally.  All of his shows will display his dynamic stage presence and performance. ALBUM DOWNLOAD LINK: https://umgafrica.lnk.to/finally

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ADM REMIX OF IDYL’S, ‘SATISFY ME’ OUT NOW
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

 Off the success of the studio single, ‘Satisfy Me’ released March of this year, Nigerian RnB sensation, Idyl is back with a new project, ‘Satisfy Me the (A.D.M. Remix)’ Pack.

 A Collaboration between the ‘Better Lover’ crooner and music collective, Africa Dance Music (A.D.M), the three-track project is an energetic take on the already upbeat single. A.D.M. is Nigeria’s first dance music collective, focused on introducing the world to Africa’s many variants of dance music. The label was launched and founded by seasoned music producer and DJ, Timi “TMXO” Aladeloba in 2017.

 ‘Satisfy Me (A.D.M. remix pack)’ includes three remixes of the original track, featuring DJ’s Jamie Black, D3an, and Calix. This unusual genre is an African take on electronic dance music, and is quickly carving out a space for itself within the continent.

 The ‘Satisfy Me A.D.M. Remixes’ build on the existing feel-good sound and dancehall vibes heard on the original. This remix pack is bound to be the soundtrack to your summer and is sure to be on every DJ’s playlist.

 You can listen, stream and download Idyl’s ‘Satisfy Me ADM Remix’ Here https://umgafrica.lnk.to/SatisfyMeRemixes

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UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP TO LAUNCH STRATEGIC DIVISION IN NIGERIA
July 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

FIRST MARQUEE LABEL SIGNINGS INCLUDE ACCLAIMED ARTISTS TEKNO, STONEBWOY, VANESSA MDEE & MR EAZI

L-R_Korede Ogunyomade_ Ezegozie Eze_ Bayo Fatoba_ Efosa Aiyevbomwan.

L-R_Korede Ogunyomade_ Ezegozie Eze_ Bayo Fatoba_ Efosa Aiyevbomwan.

SANTA MONICA/LAGOS, July 17, 2018 – Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, today announced a significant expansion of operations within Western Africa, with the launch of Universal Music Nigeria. This new strategic division, will operate from a new office in Lagos, under the leadership of seasoned music executive Ezegozie Eze Jr., who has been named General Manager of Universal Music Nigeria.

Eze and his team will support artists from Nigeria, Ghana, and Gambia throughout the continent and beyond, utilizing Universal Music Group’s global networks for wider discovery, marketing, promotion and distribution. Eze, has previously held roles at Channel O Television, Empire Mates Entertainment (Banky W & WizKid) and was a founder of Pan-African creative companies, Republic 54, Alore Group, and Duma Collective, brings vital experience in the Nigerian music market. He will report to Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The label has signed a host of Nigerian-born artists including WurlD, Odunsi (the Engine), Tay Iwar, and Ghanaian-born artists Cina Soul and Stonebwoy. In addition, the label has recently signed marquee deals with acclaimed Banku singer and songwriter Mr Eazi for pan-African releases, co-signed Nigerian artist Tekno in conjunction with Island Records UK and Tanzanian singer and songwriter Vanessa Mdee in conjunction with AfroForce1 Records/Universal Music Central Europe/Universal Music South Africa. These two signings mark the first time UMG labels from the two continents have combined to sign and release African artists globally, with other artist partnerships in the pipeline with UMG labels from around the world.

In making the announcement, Dlamini said, “In recent years there has been an increase in visibility of Nigerian and Ghanaian music and its influence on contemporary music around the world. Eze and his team are perfectly placed to support, nurture and help develop artists and musicians from the region, whilst creating opportunities for new talent from the region to reach the widest possible audience.”

Eze commented, “I am delighted to be officially launching Universal Music’s Nigerian division at such an exciting time for African music around the world. The world’s largest music company opening an office within the region is a huge statement of belief in our local music talent. The signings we have already made show our ambition to help our artists reach the widest global audience and we are looking forward to working closely with our UMG label partners around the world to make that happen.”

This new division will work in partnership with existing UMG operations throughout the continent including Cote D’Ivoire, Morocco and alongside key markets across English-speaking Africa in order to offer artists comprehensive opportunities throughout the region and provide pan-African talent the best possible launch pad for wider international success.

Universal Music Group operates two successful live music companies within Africa, both of which will also have divisions within Universal Music Nigeria. Launched in 2017 in Johannesburg, UMG Live Africa has quickly become one of the leading talent booking agencies within the continent. It has succesfully helped redefine the role of a booking agency within Africa, with a broad roster of artists made up of both UMG talent and non-UMG signed artists making more than 600 performances throughout 2017. ULive Africa was founded in 2016 and is engaged in staging, producing, programming and hosting large-scale live concerts and events throughout Africa including Runway Jazz, the innaugral African Comedy Awards, Lekki Sunsplash (30th Anniversary Edition), The Music Industry Awards in Nigeria, Afrochella and Baskets & Wine in Ghana, and Cocktails in the Wild in Uganda and Nigeria, with several other exciting projects in the pipeline.

Universal Music Group is also working closely in partnership with parent company Vivendi, and several of its divisions including CanalOlympia, Vivendi and Canal+ to support and develop the live music industry throughout the continent.

Universal Music Nigeria is currently developing plans to open a recording studio in Lagos in order to further advance the recording facilities available to local African talent. It will become UMG’s second fully purposed studio within Africa, alongside the existing facility in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Through these strategic investments, initiatives and executive appointments, UMG is accelerating the company’s focus on growing the entire African music ecosystem including recorded music, music publishing, production, live events, brand partnerships and merchandising efforts.

Stoneboy

Stoneboy

Universal Music Nigeria (UMGNG) is a division of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, with strategic divisions in more than 60 countries worldwide. UMGNG covers neighbouring English speaking-markets within Western Africa including Nigeria, Ghana and Gambia. UMGNG is committed to A&R, artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship in broadening opportunities for African artists both domestically and internationally, creating new and innovative experiences for fans whilst supporting the local music ecosystem in Nigeria and throughout the continent. UMGNG includes several key business units that operate alongside its recorded music, music publishing and audiovisual content divisions including UMGB (creative and brand partnerships division), ULive Africa (live events & production company), UMG Live Africa (talent booking and management), and Bravado (360 full-service merchandise company). These business divisions are structured to work with both UMG signed and independent talent within Nigeria and other African markets. Find out more at: http://www.universalmusic.ng.

Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company. Find out more at: http://www.universalmusic.com

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Claudio Oben On Defying The 6TH
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Destiny Kwenchia

Claudio Oben

With the world premiere set for the USA on April 8th, Actor and Producer Claudio Oben discusses Defying the 6th, his latest production. I have grown and gotten better from when I started 8 years ago, thus by default making DT6 my most experienced work yet, says the hard working actor who also stars in Defying the 6th.

Your latest film defying the 6th hits is set to premiere in the days ahead, what is the movie about?

The movie is about the causes of suicides, struggles and trauma that people deal with that eventually if not strong enough drive people to commit suicide.

What message do you seek to convey in that film?

For this film, I seek to start a conversation with people in dark places in their lives or with people who know someone in a dark place that we hear them, we can share their pain and ending one’s life if not the only way out.

Where was the movie shot and could you introduce the cast for us?

The movie was shot 90% in Cameroon and 10% in the United  States. Main Cast: Claudio Oben (Myself), Berlinda Nahbila, Malvis Ann, Lucie Memba and Libota MacDonald.

Where would you rank Defying the 6th in terms of other movies you have produced and starred in?

To me, it’s really not a matter of ranking but more of growth and like anything we do in life, the more you do it, better you get at it. So, as a filmmaker, I believe I have grown and gotten better from when I started 8 years ago, thus by default making DT6 my most experienced work yet

What were some of the challenges faced in the production of the movie?

Besides the regular challenges you face when dealing with schedules of a hand full of people, it was more so filming in Cameroon, something I had not done in my career yet. I had to learn and understand the way it is done there and at the same time implement my findings on set on the fly, so it was a huge experience that made me learn a lot.

You have been one of the key actors trying to promote the put Cameroon film industry, how is it

doing and what else needs to be done to get it better?

The Cameroon Industry, just like every industry on cooperation that is belt on talent, art and passion has grown a great deal and it just keeps getting better. That is very evident with the quality and quantity of good film being produced under that umbrella so its a good time to be part of that family.

And for what else needs to be done better: We the artist, be it producers, actors, directors and all need to remember that without us the art dies, so we need to concentrate more on the art and forget about fame and recognition. Those things come by default when the work is done right.

Could you share more information about the Premiere, venue, fees, and any other side shows taking place ?

DT6 will be premiered in MD this Sunday, April 8th, 2018 at the Old Greenbelt Theatre from 7pm-11pm. Tickets for that are $20 even and can be purchased at the gate or on eventbrite. Thereafter, it will be premiered in Cameroon. on Saturday, April 21st, 2018 at the Mountain Hotel in Buea. Tickets for those are: 5000 cfa-Regular, 10.000 cfa-VIP (Comes with 2 drinks), Tables- 50.000 cfa.

 

What next for Claudio Oben after Defying the 6th, any other projects coming up?

After the premieres and film festival runs, Claudio Oben and Zeallmatic pictures will get back to work, if not already in the works for the spin-offs of DT6. That’s all I am allowed to reveal for now.

Thanks for talking to PAV                           

Thank you so much for having me and hope to see you at the premiere. Stay blessed.

 

 

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Kenyan band takes Afro-pop music worldwide
June 10, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ilya Gridneff*

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 6, 2016, members of the Kenyan music group Sauti Sol, from left to right, Bien-Aime Baraza, Savara Mudigi, and Willis Austin Chimano, perform at an event in Nairobi, Kenya. Not many musicians can boast they’ve made President Barack Obama get up and groove to their tunes but Kenyan band Sauti Sol did just that with their mix of Afro-pop, soul and R&B, which has won a number of international awards. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 6, 2016, members of the Kenyan music group Sauti Sol, from left to right, Bien-Aime Baraza, Savara Mudigi, and Willis Austin Chimano, perform at an event in Nairobi, Kenya. Not many musicians can boast they’ve made President Barack Obama get up and groove to their tunes but Kenyan band Sauti Sol did just that with their mix of Afro-pop, soul and R&B, which has won a number of international awards. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Not many musicians can boast they’ve made U.S. President Barack Obama get up and groove to their tunes. But Kenya’s Afro-pop band, Sauti Sol, did just that.

Obama, whose father hails from a village in western Kenya, put his heritage on full display at a state dinner in Kenya last July when he boogied down to the traditional Lipala dance that the band revived with their hit song “Sura Yako.”

“Singing and dancing with the world’s most powerful man was incredible,” said Bien-Aime Baraza, a vocalist for the four-man band. “He really was feeling us. It was wonderful for Kenya.”

A savvy mix of catchy tunes, appealing looks and social media promotion has brought success to Sauti Sol, Swahili for voices in the sun. The band has worked to make traditional East African music cool again, said Rand Pearson, who runs Nairobi’s hip monthly, UP Magazine.

“I first remember seeing Sauti Sol in a dingy Nairobi club 10 years ago. My first impression was that finally there it was, a modern pop version of Kenyan music,” he said, crediting the band’s growth internationally to “visionary management, styling and its ever-evolving musical talent.”

Sauti Sol’s have won a number of international awards including the All African Music Awards Best African Group in 2015 and MTV’s Best African Act.

Pop music is big in Africa, where there are more than 200 million in the 15-to-24 year age group. It is also big business. The entertainment and media industries of Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya together will grow to be worth $24 billion in 2018, according to a 2014 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The band recently toured Kenya and performed in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique.

In November last year Sauti Sol launched their latest album “Live and Die in Afrika” free on their website, the first Kenyan album to be released online. The demand was so high that the site crashed and soon it was offered on the website of Safaricom, East Africa’s biggest mobile-phone operator with more than 25 million subscribers.

“This is testament to the fact that an increasing number of users in this market are using high speed data connectivity to access a whole new world of entertainment,” said Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom,

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta booked the band for his inauguration in 2013. “He definitely likes our music. We’ve even played at his last private birthday party,” said Savara Mudigi, drummer, vocalist and producer for the band.

The band, whose members grew up in modest conditions in Nairobi, are now gaining fame across the continent. Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama invited Sauti Sol to play at the West African country’s national holiday in March.

Social media is one of the main driving forces propelling Sauti Sol to African and worldwide audiences, according to band manager Marek Fuchs.

“Cheaper handsets and data plans have allowed the fans to be continuously in touch with the group and we strive to give them a dynamic and interactive story to follow every day,” he said.

Sauti Sol has a dedicated social media team who, along with the band members themselves, run campaigns on Twitter and Facebook, competitions on Instagram, instrument tutorials, Q&As and behind-the-scenes snippets on Snapchat and YouTube.

“We also have to adjust our strategy to fit the local context, language and time zones. It is a balancing act between posting for our traditional Kenyan base, our pan-African and worldwide fan base in different time zones,” he said.

Willis Austin Chimano, a vocalist, said this strategy is new for Africa.

“You’ve got to get with the times. More and more Africans are online, on their phones, using social media and that’s where we are,” he said.

Despite their international successes Sauti Sol remain with their feet firmly on Kenyan soil. The band members say their latest album is an ode to loving and loathing the good and bad of Kenya and the continent.

 

*Source AP/Washington Post

 

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From Claudio Oben Comes “The Portrait”
August 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Claudio Oben Claudio Oben[/caption] Fans may know him more as a talented actor and Claudio Oben’s  stock may soar even higher when his talents as producer go public with the world premiere of “The Portrait,” on September 5th in Largo, Md. Ahead of the premiere, the multi-talented , hardworking actor, and producer found time to answer a few questions from PAV on his latest film ,and perspectives on the African movie industry. Your latest movie “The Portrait” is set for its world premiere in the days ahead, can you tell us about this latest production “THE PORTRAIT” is a story about learning to love, appreciating our partners and the little things they do for us. What message did you seek to send to your audience with The Portrait?  The message I wanted to pass across with this film was for us to remember that we don’t know what tomorrow holds so, lets hold on tight to those we love, other than live with regret.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIiIc-y4hWs&feature=youtu.be Can you walk us through the cast of the film? Yes we have a very concentrated cast with the lead actress being Berlinda Nahbila who played Lucy, Kyle Burgess who played Jason Anthony, Debbie Hartner who played Jessie Anthony, and finally Winstina Taylor who played Dr. Taylor. 11750648_10207029929725046_1345309253277514036_nWhat were some of the challenges that you face in the production of The Portrait?  The main challenges producing “THE PORTRAIT” was mainly funding because being an independent filmmaker gets challenging getting locations, paying the actors and the entire management of the film. Claudio Oben is better known as an actor, how did you transition into production?  It was a fun transition for me because I have always been fascinated about how the craft of filmmaking goes. So that alone fuelled my obsession to get into production.   What is your overall take on movies produced by Africans, the talent is there, the market is there but people feel there is something still missing, you are a professional in the setting, what is still missing?  In a few words, what is missing in the industry this far is support and financing.  Support in the sense that we can do all the films but if we don’t the basic support from the community, them the question is why are we making these films. And for the financial aspect, making these films are becoming more expensive so the financial support from sponsors and potential executive producers so we can make these films the way the public wants to see them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSNjrcltCRQ&feature=youtu.be   As you become more established in the movies what lessons have you learned and what advice do you have for aspiring actors and actresses seeking to make a break through? Make every scene you are offered or you have to play your first and your last because you never know who is watching or who will catch interest in you craft. And never ever let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. Any additional information on the world premiere, where to get tickets and any other side events that would accompany the event? 10972_10202538264688934_6067543207882278629_n The event will be filled of fun I guarantee you. We will have various performances to say the least, from super talented artist in the DMV area. For the rest you will have to come attend to see for yourself. What next for Claudio Oben after The Portrait?  Two things: “CAPTIVE” the series and “WHO KILLED MARY JANE?” Good luck Sir and thanks for the interview It was great talking with you and hope to see you at the premiere.   The link to purchase the tickets is below: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-portrait-movie-premiere-tickets-17819328090?ref=estw]]>

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Thomas Mapfumo, Zimbabwe's Cultural Advocate In Exile
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

Thomas Mapfumo performs on stage during Live 8, Africa Calling, in 2005. Matt Cardy/Getty Images Thomas Mapfumo performs on stage during Live 8, Africa Calling, in 2005.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images[/caption] As Bob Marley is to Jamaicans or Fela Kuti is to Nigerians, Thomas Mapfumo is to Zimbabweans. The bandleader is a superstar in his home country, both for his masterful blending of traditional sounds with world music and for his powerful political messages. Mapfumo has been a tireless critic of the colonial government of former Southern Rhodesia, as well as the dictatorship that presently rules Zimbabwe. Music critic Banning Eyre has written a new biography of Mapfumo and compiled an album of his music, both titled Lion Songs: Thomas Mapfumo And The Music That Made Zimbabwe. Eyre recently joined NPR’s Robert Siegel to discuss Mapfumo’s music and his career of moving people — both on the dance floor and in their political views. “He is a singer and a bandleader,” Eyre says, “but also an activist: a social critic who has kept in his heart the interests of poor people and rural people and people who become the victims of governments, whether it’s the white, racist Rhodesian regime or the corrupt regime of Robert Mugabe. He’s a politician in the sense that he has really moved the politics of the country forward. But really, at a deeper level, he’s an advocate of culture.” One element that stands out in Mapfumo’s music is the way he uses a traditional thumb piano called the mbira, which Eyre explains is believed to have the ability to contact the spirits of ancestors. Mapfumo translates music traditionally played on thembira — a repertoire of songs thought to have been around since ancient times — to the electric guitar. “And so, when Mapfumo started putting that music on electric guitars in the 1970s and singing songs that were both bringing forward the culture but also attacking the regime and encouraging fighters,” Eyre says, “it was a really powerful package.” Other former British colonies in Africa saw black-majority governments take over once given independence, but in Southern Rhodesia, colonial whites declared their own independence and wanted to remain a white-ruled country. A 1977 song, “Pamuromo Chete (It’s Only Talk),” was Mapfumo’s response to a statement by the leader of the white government, Ian Smith.   https://youtu.be/kftTRXZuyOY   “Smith had declared that there would never be a black-majority government, not in a thousand years, so Mapfumo was right there with his response: ‘You’re just talking, it’s only talk,'” Eyre says. “And he was right. Within a few months, Smith had to walk that back. And you can hear this kind of moral authority in [Mapfumo’s] voice in that song. This is the moment when he’s really discovering that he can harness traditional rhythms, melodies and attitudes and make it really sting.” Now living in exile in Oregon due to his outspoken criticism of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Mapfumo yearns to go home, according to Eyre. “He still has this … sense of unfinished business: that he’s needed at home,” Eyre says. “He tries his best to record music and release it, but you never really lose that restlessness, that desire to get back.” *Source NPR]]>

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Nairobi’s Matatu Culture Makes it To Hollywood in Upcoming Netflix Series
May 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

nawakucarter-710x434From Tomb Raider being shot on Kenyan soil to Lupita Winning an Oscar to the ever constant Edi Gathegi, Kenyan talent and abilities can be ranked up their with the best if the potential is factored in. it so happens that Kenyan talent is only recognized after one makes it big anywhere else but not here In an upcoming series, Sense8, that will air on Netflix, a number of Kenyan talents have been. Not only that but actual shooting was also done locally, at least some of it. The definitive matatu culture is featured briefly in the trailer albeit in an understated manner. The synopsis:

Sense8 will tell the story of eight strangers from different cultures and parts of the world, who, in the aftermath of a tragic death, suddenly find themselves mentally and emotionally connected – an evolutionary leap of technological origin. While trying to figure why this happened and what it means for the future of mankind, a mysterious and powerful man named Jonas will try to bring the eight together, while another stranger called Mr. Whispers and his organization will attempt to hunt them down to capture or assassinate them. Each episode will focus on one character and their story.
The series will be available on Netflix by Jun 5th and of the Kenyan faces on it are, Biko Nyongesa, Chichi Seii who’ll reportedly play Capheus’ mother, Lwanda Jawar as Githu, the leader of Superpower, a vigilante gang, Paul Ogola as Jela, Peter King Mwania as a crime lord named Silas Kabaka.   *Source Naije.com   https://youtu.be/iKpKAlbJ7BQ]]>

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Rapper Jay Z Wants To Invest In Nigerian Music Industry
May 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

jayzJay Z, one of the most financially successful Hip-Hop artists in the United States, unveiled this venture just a month after the launch of his new company Tidal, “the first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos, and Curated Editorial, expertly crafted by music journalists.”

 

American rapper, record producer, and business mogul Shawn Corey Carter, known by his stage name Jay Z, is reportedly on the verge of expanding his business empire by investing in the Nigerian music industry.

Jay Z, one of the most financially successful Hip-Hop artists in the United States, unveiled this venture just a month after the launch of his new company Tidal, “the first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos, and Curated Editorial, expertly crafted by music journalists.” Just a few weeks ago, Nigerian rapper Ice Prince of Chocolate City records shared photos of he and Jay Z via social media, hinting he’s in talks with Roc Nation. Mr. Carter has also sent his cousin, Brian ‘Bee-High’ Biggs, currently the director of mobile strategies at Roc Nation to Nigeria on a mission to scout for new talents for the company (Tidal). Biggs has also been seen with Don Jazzy, a Nigerian Multi award-winning record producer, singer-songwriter, musician, and CEO of the Mavin Records label at their studio headquarters in Lagos. *Source Sahara Reporters]]>

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Ethiopian cinema focuses on prostitution
March 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

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Price of Love, in Amharic, has been nominated for Africa's top film award at the Fespaco festivalEthiopian scriptwriter and film director Hermon Hailay says she grew up close to prostitutes.

“I know them as young, beautiful women, mothers, sisters and friends,” she tells me at a popular cinema in the middle of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “I always wanted to tell their story, because I know it well. As a kid, I did not see the shame in what they do.” At just 28, Ms Hermon has already written and directed three feature films, all tackling social issues like poverty and the perils of rural to urban migration. She was getting ready to travel to Burkina Faso for Africa’s biggest film festival Fespaco, where her latest film, Price of Love, has been nominated for the top prize. It follows the life of a young taxi driver who in the course of his job falls in love with a prostitute.

Hermon Hailay speaks about her latest film Price of Love

He is then forced to confront his past, having been raised by his mother, who also earned her living from prostitution. This is not uncommon in Ethiopia where prostitution is widespread, but is at times spoken of in low tones. Despite the country’s impressive and fast-growing economy, a large part of the population still lives on less than a dollar a day. Every evening, heavily made up “business ladies”, as they are called, line up on Addis Ababa’s streets in short skimpy dresses. “In the three movies I have done before, I had small roles of prostitutes and I always wanted to have a major role in one of them,” says Ms Hermon. “It’s of course a very controversial topic and people ask me why I include such roles in my movies but I think we have never told enough, and if we think prostitution is bad, we should change that by loving them, not shunning them – that is the message of my movie.” ‘Change a life’

Ethiopia is full of film lovers and most evenings you will see long queues at local cinema halls showing the latest Amharic language and Western releases.

[caption id="attachment_16940" align="alignright" width="300"]Cinemas showing the latest releases are popular in Addis Ababa Cinemas showing the latest releases are popular in Addis Ababa[/caption] “I have seen the trailer and it’s a movie I just can’t wait to watch because it’s not only based on reality but more importantly has a message in it,” says Arega Bekele, who runs a restaurant often frequented by people leaving a nearby cinema. Twenty-eight-year-old Meseret, who was in a cinema queue and had seen the trailer, agrees. “Out there, one of those beautiful young ladies will watch that movie and it will change her life forever,” she says. Across town at a restaurant frequented by middle-class Addis Ababans, I met three young people having their lunch who had seen Price of Love. They were more critical about the film, feeling it did not offer anything new. “This is just a regular story that has been told over and over again in Ethiopia,” says one of them, an office manager. “It’s of course a difficult issue to tackle here and many young girls are just getting into it because of the money they get,” she says. But while there may be critics, many agree that Ms Hermon deserves praise for bringing the Ethiopian film industry into the limelight. Price of Love was filmed by a crew of just eight people – all Ethiopians. Max Conil, a producer born and raised in the UK, was a consultant on the film and says their work ethic and dedication was exceptional. “It doesn’t matter if they win at Fespaco or not. This is already a big win not only for them but also Ethiopia’s film industry,” he says. Ms Hermon believes Ethiopian films can compete with the best in the continent and on the international scene. “Just look at our neighbours Kenya, beyond to Nigeria and South Africa, we have the culture, the stories and the people, we can be like them,” she says. *Source BBC]]>

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Angelique Kidjo Wins Her Second Grammy
February 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

“This Album Is Dedicated To The Women Of Africa”

By Farai Gundan*

  240x_mg_xcs1wji77p_244872593062_4361087174775The new year has been off to a great start for world-renowned singer, songwriter and activist, Angelique Kidjo. Ms. Kidjo who first won a Grammy back in 2008 for her eighth studio album ‘Djin Djin’ which included a star-studded list of guest artists ranging from Branford Marsalis, Ziggy Marley, Alicia Keys, Carlos Santana to Peter Gabriel, won the 2015 Crystal Award in a ceremony opening the 45th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 21st. Along with two other exceptional artists, Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, Ms. Kidjo who was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2002, received the Crystal Awards for “not only being world famous artists but also concerned with humanitarian issues and committed to using their time and energy to make a difference,” said Hilde Schwab, Chairperson and Co-Founder, Schwab Foundation for Entrepreneurship. “I want to dedicate this crystal award to the women of my continent. They are the backbone of Africa. I cannot be who I am without them. To all the women of the world, what you do is priceless; it is not a matter of color, of language, of nationality,” said Ms. Kidjo receiving the 2015 Crystal Award.

Continuing with her winning streak, last night at the 57th annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples SPLS -0.96% Center in Los Angeles, California, the revered musician who was born in Cotonou, Benin, won her second Grammy for her 2014 album ‘EVE’ in the ‘World Music’ category that included Brazilian bossa nova legend Sergio Mendes and sitar player and composer, Anoushka Shankar. Receiving her Grammy award during a pre-telecast ceremony, Ms. Kidjo the first woman to be listed on FORBES’ 40 Most Powerful Celebrities In Africa, said, “this album is dedicated to the women of Africa, to their beauty and resilience. Women of Africa, you rock! For me, music is a weapon of peace and today more than ever, as artists we have a role to play in the stability of this world.”

The 54 year-old artist, whose work with UNICEF focuses on girls’ education in partnership with her non-rofit organization, Batonga Foundation, has called for swifter action to contain the Ebola outbreak and advocated for increased efforts to improve the public healthcare system in West Africa in the wake of the epidemic.

*Source Forbes

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Nigeria: Jonathan Receives Long-Awaited Audit Report On Missing U.S.$20 Billion Oil Money, but Details Remain Secret
February 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Photo: Leadership Lamido Sanusi

Photo: Leadership
Lamido Sanusi

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday publicly received the report of the forensic audit carried out on the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] from the accounting firm that conducted the investigation.

The report submission ceremony, held a day after a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], Chukwuma Soludo, wrote a long, acerbic article accusing the managers of the Nigerian economy of misappropriating over N30trillion of public funds, including several billions in oil money.

“Now add the ‘missing’ $20 billion from the NNPC,” Mr. Soludo said. “You promised a forensic audit report ‘soon’, and more than a year later the Report itself is still ‘missing’. This is over N4 trillion, and we don’t know how much more has ‘missed’ since Sanusi cried out. How many trillions of naira were paid for oil subsidy (unappropriated?).”

Insiders in the administration had long told PREMIUM TIMES that the report was submitted months ago by auditors but that it was gathering dust in the cupboards of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Auditor General of the Federation.

In what appeared a hurried response to Mr. Soludo’s allegations, President Jonathan suspended campaign activities Monday to receive the report from the auditors in the presence of journalists, in a move aides say was aimed at correcting the impression created by the former CBN governor that the administration was sitting on the document.

At the ceremony held at the Presidential Villa, Mr. Jonathan received the report from Uyi Akpata, the country senior partner for PriceWaterHouseCoopers, and then promised a comprehensive reform of the oil sector.

The President did not give any insight into the details of the report. He only said the document would be sent to the Auditor General of the Federation in the next one week.

He said it is at the Auditor-General’s end that details of the report would be made public saying “media will want to know the key findings vis-a-vis the senate findings and figures being bandied around in the newspaper, but Nigerians are interested”.

The President noted that as part of the recommendation made, the petroleum industry bill would correct the lapses in the oil and gas sector.

“Indeed you mentioned the issue of reform in the sector, everybody knows that the sector needs to be reformed,” he said. “By the time we go through the petroleum industry bill and pass it into law, most of this lapses will be corrected and the misconception will be properly addressed.”

Suppressing the Report

PREMIUM TIMES had on December 27 reported how the government plotted to suppress the report. The forensic audit was commissioned following allegation by the immediate past Governor of the CBN, Lamido Sanusi, that about $20 billion oil money was missing from the NNPC.

The Presidency had on March 12, 2014 announced, through a statement by the president’s spokesperson, Reuben Abati, that it had authorised the engagement of reputable international firms to carry out the forensic audit of the accounts of the NNPC.

The audit firm had earlier submitted an interim report which the President said he rejected as the subject matter of the probe needed to be completely dealt with.

The allegation that the huge amount had been stolen was raised in 2013 by a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, who is now the Emir of Kano.

Mr. Sanusi said as much as $49 billion was diverted by state oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

He later reviewed the amount to $20 billion, and called for investigations after writing to President Goodluck Jonathan.

A Senate probe into the allegation yielded no result. Mr. Sanusi was later fired by President Jonathan after he was accused of “financial recklessness”.

The government said no money was missing, but promised a forensic investigation of NNPC.

In April, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced the appointment of the accounting firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC), to conduct a detailed investigation into the accounts and activities of NNPC.

The minister said the investigation, under the supervision of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, would take about 16 weeks.

That schedule meant at most by September 2014 ending, the report should have been ready. A two-month delay meant the report should have been ready by November.

But more than two months later, the government failed to release the report.

PREMIUM TIMES independently investigated the whereabouts of the report and its contents.

At each turn, relevant government offices denied having the report despite confirmation by senior officials of the finance ministry to this newspaper that the report had since been submitted by PriceWaterHouseCoopers.

The sources said the document was submitted to the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation. Our reporters contacted the offices of the Auditor-General and the Accountant- General repeatedly, pressing for the report, without success.

A spokesperson for the Auditor-General of the Federation, Florence Dibiase, said she was not aware of the report.

Also, Abba Dabo, the Director, Extra Ministerial Department, in the Office of the Auditor general of the Federation, denied knowledge of the report. Mr. Dabo said he should be in charge of such documents if they were available.

He said the role of the auditor-general’s office was in selecting PriceWaterHouseCoopers as the auditing firm, after which the matter reverted to the finance ministry.

Mr. Dabo said only the Auditor General, Samuel Ukura, could speak authoritatively on whether any such report was ready. Mr. Ukura could not be reached for comments at the time.

PREMIUM TIMES also contacted PriceWaterHouseCoopers, where an official said the firm would only be able to comment on a later date.

*Source allafrica

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Growing Up with Professor Ali Mazrui
December 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Dr Willy Mutunga is Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya Dr Willy Mutunga is Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya[/caption] I have had a long association with the academic, author, documentary maker, and tree shaker, Professor Ali Mazrui, who died a little more than a month ago. I borrow the metaphor “Growing up with” from the title of renowned Professor Karim Hirji’s autobiography, Growing Up with Tanzania, to reflect on just a few inspiring encounters over the decades I have had with the intellectual giant of Africa. Mjomba Ali died in Binghamton, New York, on October 12, 2014. He was 81 years and 8 months old. I remember Mazrui particularly in context of debates at the University of East Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, which were as ideological as they were political. There were professors on the left and on the right with liberals in the middle. It was the era of the Cold War and this was reflected intellectually, ideologically, and politically at the university. The debates were among great African, regional, and global scholars such as Walter Rodney, Giovanni Arrighi, A. J. Temu, Justinian Rweyemamu, John Saul, Tamas Sczentes, Yash Tandon, Abdalla Bujra, Mahmood Mamdani, Karim Hirji, Issa Shivji, Dani Nabudere, Omwony Ojok, Henry Mapolu, Aki Sawyerr, Kwesi Botchwey, Marjorie Mbilinyi, Yash Pal Ghai, Dharam Ghai, John Samuel Mbiti, Okot p’Bitek, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Micere Mugo, Sol Piciotto, among many others. Dar es Salaam College of the University of East Africa became the liberation Mecca for many liberation movements: ANC, Frelimo, Swapo, Polisario, PLO, Black Power and Black Panthers, among others, with President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere providing the intellectual, ideological, and political umbrella that nurtured these great debates. Dar University was a great institution of higher learning to be in during the 1960s and the 1970s.  I regard myself as having been very fortunate to be a student there during that period. First encounter I first met Mjomba Ali in 1969 while a student at the Dar es Salaam University College. Then teaching at Makerere University, he was in Dar to attend a conference. In those days academic conferences took place on a regular basis under the auspices of the University of East Africa. I attended many of them when Mjomba Ali presented papers. Needless to say I saw and heard the great academic, scholar, wordsmith, intellectual, nationalist and pan-Africanist, and radical liberal at his brilliant best. In his modesty and humility Mjomba Ali was later to confide in me that he believed that he lost his debate against Walter Rodney which took place at Makerere University in 1970. Reflecting on these debates it is easy to understand why a radical liberal would have a following among the students. The ideological debates between the right and the left were at times brutal, dogmatic, and ruthlessly critical. Students who wanted to hear and reflect on arguments from both sides of the ideological divide must have found Mjomba Ali’s middle position attractive. And Mjomba Ali remained consistent in that position while some of the scholars moved from one extreme to the other. We seem to have come a full circle in the 20th century with the middle, social democracy, being the basis of historicising, problematising, and interrogating the still dominant paradigms of neo-liberalism and socialism. The search for a paradigm that will liberate the world continues in earnest. The clarion call, the revolutionary slogan and resolve, A luta Continua, remains relevant. Autobiography Shy aliProfessor Alamin Mazrui, Mjoba Ali’s nephew, and I had been keen to write Ali’s biography. We raised the issue with him. He did not want to say no to us, but upon reflection he was not very keen about the idea. He, however, did not disappoint because he suggested we could edit his great debates with scholars; that we proceeded to do in three volumes. I have always had this nagging feeling that Mjomba was never keen on the idea of an autobiography or biography. I should have figured out this when Alamin and I edited his debates! If you are a giant of a scholar who is constantly and continuously being debated, written on, critiqued, your story gets told permanently and indelibly.   As Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kenya it was my great pleasure and privilege to host Mjomba Ali and Professor Robert Martin a year ago at the Judiciary. Mjomba Ali spoke to the judges about law and politics under the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. This was a timely intervention, particularly for judges who still nursed the idea that “the law is the law is the law” under the said Constitution. The Constitution of Kenya is not a legal-centric document and it requires a multi-disciplinary approach to its interpretation and implementation. It is a Constitution that fundamentally subverts staunch positivism. As an African who believes in my protection by the spirits of our ancestors, as creations of God, I have no doubt the Spirit of Mjomba Ali will watch over us as we continue to grow with him. I am sure more debate about his work and greatness will continue on earth for many centuries to come. I pray he will debate Walter Rodney yet again when their paths cross, this time round with clearer results! May the Almighty Allah rest his soul in eternal peace! *Dr Willy Mutunga is Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya.  ]]>

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A Circle of Celebration, Forged in Africa
November 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

* [caption id="attachment_13953" align="alignleft" width="675"]Angelique Kidjo performing with Dominic James on guitar at Carnegie Hall. Credit Ruby Washington/The New York Times Angelique Kidjo performing with Dominic James on guitar at Carnegie Hall. Credit Ruby Washington/The New York Times[/caption]

One strong African woman honored another at Angélique Kidjo’s tribute concert for Miriam Makeba on Wednesday night at Carnegie Hall, where she was joined by Vusi Mahlasela from South Africa, Laura Mvulu from England and Ezra Koenig from the African-influenced New York City band Vampire Weekend. Whoopi Goldberg started the concert with praise for both Makeba, who died in 2008, and Ms. Kidjo.

Wearing brightly patterned dresses, singing with joyful vehemence and dancing with struts and twirls and shoulder shakes, Ms. Kidjo was respectful, yet far from solemn, in a concert drawn almost entirely from the Makeba repertory. It was the finale of Carnegie’s Ubuntu festival, marking 20 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa: a cause Makeba devoted herself to through decades of exile after South Africa revoked her passport in 1963.

It was by no means Ms. Kidjo’s first acknowledgment of Makeba as her role model. Ms. Kidjo is from Benin, in West Africa, and has lived in Paris and now Brooklyn. Like Makeba, she has drawn deeply on her African heritage while making global fusions; the concert included songs in six languages. She recorded a Makeba standard, the Tanzanian love song “Malaika,” for her 1991 album, “Logozo,” and sang it on Wednesday night.

Ms. Kidjo is a rawer, more brazen singer than Makeba; with bent notes and raspy peaks, she brings the West African roots of the blues into her songs. What she shares with Makeba is conviction and compassion as she seeks the universal sentiment in songs from particular places: a lullaby from Indonesia (“Suliram”), a song about working in South African mines (“The Retreat Song”), a topical message (“Soweto Blues”).

Ms. Kidjo supplemented her regular band, which easily commands a huge variety of African-diaspora styles, with three South African singers — Faith Kekana, Stella Khumalo and Zamo Mbutho — who had backed up Makeba. They brought the lush, precisely swooping harmonies of South African tradition, which were especially striking when they joined Ms. Kidjo for a cappella passages.

But Ms. Kidjo wasn’t reproducing the old Makeba sound; she was pushing it harder. “Pole Mze” — a Kenyan song praising that country’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta — had a gentle Afro-Cuban lilt in Makeba’s version; Ms. Kidjo’s band drove it all the way into salsa. Her guests picked up her enthusiasm — especially Mr. Mahlasela, a courageous songwriter during the apartheid era, with a jovial presence and a robust, soaring voice that rose to match Ms. Kidjo’s own power.

Carnegie Hall, however, wasn’t the right room for the concert. Although Ms. Kidjo’s drummer, Yayo Serka, played behind a plastic partition and used a light touch, the music’s danceable beats were blurred by the hall’s reverberation. But Ms. Kidjo didn’t let acoustics impede her. She sang her way through the audience and up into the balcony, illuminated by flashing cellphone cameras, and got the audience on its feet, singing along and dancing to join a song Ms. Kidjo wrote for both Makeba and the continent: “Afirika.”

*Source nytimes

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How Majid Michel And Beverly Naya Created Nollywood’s Best Kiss 2014
October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Brothers-keeperGhanaian actor, Majid Michel and Nigerian actress, Beverly Naya have emerged as the best kissers in Nollywood. The handsome actor and beautiful actress combined well enough to emerge joint winners in the Best Kiss in a movie category at the just-concluded 2014 Best of Nollywood awards. The awards ceremony, which held in Port Harcourt on Thursday, October 16, 2014, saw the two named winner for their passionate and intense kissing in a movie titled Forgetting June. To emerge winner of the category, Majid and Beverly beat the likes of Ini Edo, Blossom Chukwujekwu and Monalisa Chinda to win the award.Presenting the category, which many in the movie industry consider either unserious or unique, for this year were Empress Njamah and Chinedu Ikedieze at the awards ceremony. Directed by Ikechukwu Onyeka and starring Majid Michel, Beverly Naya, Mbong Amata and others, Forgetting June is a 2013 Nigerian romantic drama film. *Source Ghana Vibes]]>

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Comedy Gold: Who are the funniest people in Africa?
September 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Florence Obondo and Allyssia Alleyne* [caption id="attachment_11593" align="alignleft" width="150"]Daniel "Churchill" Ndambuki is a popular Kenyan comic who brings joy and laughter into people's lives each week with his self-titled variety show. For all you comedy fans, he has chosen five emerging comics from the continent to keep an eye on -- they are going to be big! Daniel “Churchill” Ndambuki is a popular Kenyan comic who brings joy and laughter into people’s lives each week with his self-titled variety show. For all you comedy fans, he has chosen five emerging comics from the continent to keep an eye on — they are going to be big![/caption] Daniel Ndambuki might today be one of Kenya’s top comedians, having the crowd in stitches every time he performs, but things were quite different when he first took to the stage. In fact, Ndambuki’s debut performance was so bad that he had to be stopped straight away. “My first joke … they switched off the mic,” recalls Ndambuki, who is better known by his stage name “Churchill”. “It was too boring,” he admits laughingly, “even [to] myself.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN_V9XQm8Ks “We left the stage and we promised ourselves never to do comedy again, but I went back and with practice and a lot of encouragement, we just found ourselves getting addicted to the stage and that’s exactly what we are doing up until now.” ‘Next Chris Rock’ As the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And to Churchill’s credit, he did and today, thanks to his hard work and determination, he is at the helm of two of Kenya’s biggest comedy shows: Churchill Live and Churchill Raw. The first one is more of a magazine show, with several high-profile guests, whilst the latter serves as a platform for up-and-coming performers to showcase their talents. To find the best entertainers, Churchill auditions a group of comedians, and the cream of the crop goes on to perform before a live audience later that day. “There is nothing as exciting as being a pioneer for a big dream, not only for one country, but the whole continent and creating history and influencers — it’s the most amazing thing,” says Churchill. “With the talent that you see coming up on the stage every day, in the next five years you might be sure, it’s a matter of time before you see a Chris Rock or a Steve Harvey coming from the academy and that would be the dream,” he muses. Tips to tickle you [caption id="attachment_11594" align="alignright" width="150"]Basketmouth has quite the social media following, with over one million Facebook likes and over 550,000 Twitter followers. Stand-up is his speciality, but he uploads the occasional sketch to his YouTube too. Basketmouth has quite the social media following, with over one million Facebook likes and over 550,000 Twitter followers. Stand-up is his speciality, but he uploads the occasional sketch to his YouTube too.[/caption] But what does it take to succeed in the business of making people laugh? For Churchill, the secret lies with crafting jokes that everyone can relate to. “The most unique thing is being able to make a very intelligent person and the ordinary person get the joke at the same time otherwise you will lose,” he advises. “It is not easy,” he adds. “Humor is based on current issues and observation and just characters,” continues the seasoned comic, “so it’s a whole journey seven days a week; you have to keep on doing it, again and again. “Comedy is not easy, it’s really more like a calling. If someone has that talent, the best you can do as a parent is to encourage that person.”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2FJAGOrh5o   More than just a comedian, Churchill is today focused on growing the next generation of comic talent in Kenya and beyond. CNN’s African Voices asked the seasoned comic to name some of his continent’s best comics to keep an eye on. Click through the gallery above to find out Churchill’s favorite African comedians and check out the video below to learn more about his story. *Source CNN]]>

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Interview: The Cameroonian Soul King Looks Back
August 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

CLYDE MACFARLANE* ManuDibangoWhen Manu Dibango took to the stage at Womad Festival last month, one got the overwhelming feeling that he has enjoyed every moment of his career. Even after 80 years and counting, it was clear that the great Cameroonian saxophonist still loves music and has always loved music. Dibango first became famous with his 1972 hit ‘Soul Makossa’, a song which proved influential in opening up Europe and America to African music with its catchy, repeated chorus. “Mama-say, mama-sah, ma-ma-koo-sah,” he sang to the Womad crowd, greeted with whoops of appreciation. Dibango’s chant had previously been popularised by Michael Jackson’s plagiarism of it in ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’ − for which Dibango sued Jackson, a matter that was eventually settled out of court − and which had led to many other musical adaptations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WvGUnauk7c At Womad, the set switched effortlessly between soulful ballads which saw the keyboardist transform the festival tent into a New Orleans gospel church − notes that went on forever, Dibango blowing off on a mad cadenza − and funky hits where the octogenarian jiggled his hips with playful nostalgia. As the guitarist played a few funk licks to whip up the energy, Dibango stepped back and nodded approvingly. “Same man, different band!” was how Dibango neatly summarised the performance afterwards as he spoke to Think Africa Press. “I started music by going to church. Then I went to Europe when I was 15. I’m 80 now, so that’s a long time to be performing. I was lucky at the beginning as it’s always a tough time starting out in music. Sometimes musicians get lucky, and that happened to me in 1972. Now there are different people around me. My music is the same, but with different musicians.” Dibango was keen to reflect on his time playing music and travelling in the 70s, evidently a hallowed period for him . “I have a lot of nostalgia for that time,” he said. “There were so many great musicians: James Brown, Sly Stone, Otis Reading, all those people. I spent a month in Jamaica when Bob Marley was alive, and I became the first African to record an album there − a collaboration with [the Jamaican rhythm section] Sly and Robbie called Gone Clear. “At that time those musicians were all popular in Europe,” he continued. “African music was popular in Africa. After ‘Soul Makossa’, Europeans realised there was a lot more to black music than African-American music. I opened the door for them − I had the keys without even knowing it, and this allowed people to go to Africa and find Fela Kuti and King Sunny Adé. They’d been playing for a while in Africa, but no one in Europe had heard of them.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWK_Josc0Og “When I started, I played everybody else’s music before playing my own thing. First you play other people’s music − what people want to hear − then you ask the crowd whether they want to hear something different. You have to be curious. If you’re not curious, you will not learn − that’s the same wherever you go in the world. If you’re keen to learn and mix with other people, then one day you’ll make a new musical baby.” *Source thinkafricapress  You can find out more about Manu Dibango here]]>

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Nigeria's entertainment industry, the unsung hero of youth employment
August 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Konye Obaji Ori* [caption id="attachment_10692" align="alignleft" width="300"]Nigerian pop star D'banj is currently the African Union Summit Ambassador for ONE Campaign. Photo©Reuters Nigerian pop star D’banj is currently the African Union Summit Ambassador for ONE Campaign. Photo©Reuters[/caption] Nigeria’s entertainment industry has become a key cog in creating youth employment and cultivating culture at a minimal cost to government. The Nigerian Creative and Entertainment Industry Stimulation Loan Scheme, launched in 2011 by President Goodluck Jonathan, saw entertainers accessing $200 million to finance their operations.

hree years later, Nollywood, Nigeria’s budding film industry, has become second in the global film markets in terms of volume of production, and third, behind India’s Bollywood and America’s Hollywood in revenue.The entertainment sector is now reputed to be the second highest employer in Nigeria after agriculture – employing more than one million people – particularly the youth.Current estimates put Nollywood’s annual revenue at $590 million, with Nigerian musicians and comedians selling out arenas from London to Los Angeles. One example of such success is Nigerian comedian, Basket Mouth’s February 2014 tour of the United Kingdom, which sold out in various venues a week before the concert date.A growing number of young people are finding their niche in the budding industry, as they straddle a broad range of economic activities, contributing to the country’s economy. Perceptive entrepreneurs Nigerian entertainment entrepreneur Jason Njoku created Iroko, Nigeria’s equivalent of Netflix, and he has been listed by Forbes as one of top 10 young African millionaires. While Nigeria’s shortcomings in youth management are by no means resolved, the entertainment industry has seen young Nigerian artistes emerge from disadvantaged backgrounds and working themselves into higher income brackets. The opportunities created by the entertainment sector are good news for the government, as it somewhat reduces the difficulty of catering for Nigeria’s large youth population, with more than 100 million people aged below 45. The industry is creating perceptive entrepreneurs, cultural ambassadors, and global brands, whose exploits have internationalised Nigeria’s entertainment sector. Nigerian actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde is currently a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations, while pop star D’banj is currently the African Union Summit Ambassador for ONE Campaign, an advocacy initiative that calls on African governments to commit at least 10 per cent of national budgets to agricultural investment. The sector has also flourished as a result of investors – both local and international – devising strategies to circumnavigate piracy, with little help from government. One such example is an M-Net-THEMA TV distribution deal in 2011 that allowed M-Net to sub-license the rights of its AfricaMagic content, African drama series, documentaries and soaps, to THEMA TV for international distribution. Erstwhile actress Genevieve Nnaji, who has been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, talking Nigeria, culture, and entertainment, serves as proof that the West African country provides a lucrative consumer market for private and corporate investors seeking a piece of the pie the entertainment sector has to offer. With more attention from government, in terms of regulation and investments, Nigeria’s entertainment industry could drive the youth employment effort, not only in distribution but also in domestic and regional tourism.
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I once lived in an uncompleted building -Mercy Johnson
January 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Mercy Johnson-Okojie made her way into Nollywood in the movie ‘The Maid’. In this interview with JOAN OMIONAWELE, the actress talked about marriage, controversies, acting, fashion and other issues. What has Mercy Johnson been up to lately? I have been busy shooting movies, moving from one location to the other. I give God all the glory. You recently set up the Mercy Johnson Foundation. How far has it gone? So far so good; it’s progressing. It’s been God all the way. How many movies can you recollect doing so far? Over 100 movies. What were your days like as a  child? I was a tomboy. I am the fourth child from a family of seven children. The first four are girls and the last three are boys. So, I actually moved a lot with my brothers, climbing trees and stuff like that. We didn’t get everything we wanted but we got everything we needed. I’m from a very humble background; a Christian family. My dad is an ex-military officer and we basically grew up in a military environment. I attended Navy primary and secondary schools until I went to the Lagos State University. And how has it been through fame and glamour? There have been the good and bad times; there have been rumours and scandals. Sometimes when I cry in movies, it isn’t the script that makes me cry. When I recall my humble beginning, I give thanks to God. When I remember how we moved into an uncompleted building and had to take cover whenever it rained because of the condition of the house; how my brother did a menial job as a bricklayer to earn a living and those days when we rolled over a stick to cover the windows up till the point when I started acting and raised money to cover the roof… I recall those days we were living with lizards because the floor and the walls of the house were not plastered, or when I had scars as a result of my several falls. So how did you start acting? After my secondary school education, I failed the University Matriculation Examination (UME) and came back to Lagos to get a degree. While that was on, I watched Genevieve Nnaji in a movie entitled: Sharon Stone. I later approached a friend for assistance to feature in a movie. He said I had a great body and that I would make a good actress. He later took me to the National Theatre, but a role did not come until a year later, when I had my first lead role in a film entitled: The Maid. The Maid was my starting point and it was quite challenging to play the lead role because it was my first movie. I was fidgeting when I saw the likes of Eucharia Anunobi, whom I regarded as a screen goddess during my secondary school days. I never thought I would make it with people like that. So, when I saw her, I was so excited and considered standing beside her as sacred. She actually realised that and later helped me by giving me the needed courage. What is that accessory that you can never be caught wearing? A nose ring. What has marriage changed about you? Marriage has taught me lots of things and I’ve learnt a lot since I got married too. I know that if I had gotten married earlier, I wouldn’t have made most of the errors I made. It’s good to be married to somebody who is so organised; he brings you up the right way and reminds you of whom you’re supposed to be. You seem to be enjoying marriage a lot.  You even once said that as soon as Purity (her daughter) clocks one, you would be going back to the labour room … My sister, marriage has been sweet for me because I have the best husband and daughter in the world. Being a married woman, I have learnt to tolerate things more. It has changed my perspective of life and the way I react to things. But getting married and being an actress are two different things. How do you balance up? When I’m not at location, I spend quality time with my family. And guess what? My husband has always been there for me and Purity. It’s obvious we are his priority. He’s a loving husband and father. Your husband does not complain about those times when you are away? He doesn’t; he understands the nature of my job. He’s the best thing that has happened to me. People usually say men are not reliable. In the case of my husband, he’s a blessing. What was the point of attraction between you and Mr Okojie? What attracted him to me was his fearless approach. You know sometimes, you meet some guys and they get intimidated about you, but not with him. The first time we were supposed to have a date, he said ‘Let’s go to my house so you can cook for me’ and in my mind, I was like “Seriously, this guy doesn’t know my name.” So, I said “My name is Mercy Johnson” and he said ‘Yes I know.’ Taking your child to movie sets can really be demanding and stressful. Does Purity not disturb you when you are on set? No, she doesn’t. When I take her on location, she has lots of uncles and aunties who dote on her. They carry her, feed her and many more. Sometimes, I don’t even get to see her until she needs to breastfeed. How has motherhood changed your perspective about life? It has changed me just the way it changes women. You begin to see yourself as a co-creator. You begin to see yourself as a protector. It will also make you feel more responsible for other children as well. You begin to see them as children of some other mothers. You have a sense of responsibility to want to protect them as well. If he tells you to quit acting one day, would you give it a thought? When we get to that bridge, we will cross it. How do you pamper yourself? I have fun with my family. As a dutiful wife, how do you pamper your husband? Sometimes I take him out on a date, surprise him with gifts and so on. As a married woman, does he complain about your romantic scenes in movies? No he doesn’t. He understands the nature of my job and he knows that acting is just make-believe. There was an issue with you and Tonto Dike recently. She dissed you on Twitter for saying you would go back to the labour room immediately Purity was mature enough. Why didn’t you reply her? I’d rather not talk about it. What does style mean to you? Style to me is putting on anything that makes you feel comfortable. My husband is a huge critic, so when he compliments my dressing, I feel so good. He doesn’t believe that exposing anything makes you look better. He feels when you cover up, you look real nice. What is that accessory that you continuously fill your wardrobe with? That will be my wrist-watches. And how many of it (your favourite accessory) would you say you have? Close to 10. In a few years to come, what would you love to be remembered for? I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds. I would like to leave with the memory of someone with a good heart, who did her best to help others. There is a very strong competition among actresses. How have you managed to maintain your position as one of the most popular? I would have to give all glory to God how far He has helped me. I have tried as much as possible to give my best to the industry and I cannot say that I have arrived, but it is obvious that I am not where I used to be. I will continue to do more. It doesn’t look like you would go back to putting on those sexy clothes again after you wean Purity. Or would you? No I don’t plan to. Motherhood and marriage have changed me. I am over that because I am now a married woman, a mother at that. What has been the most negative report that you have read about yourself? A lot of untrue things have been said about me, but I have come to realise that it doesn’t cost people anything to cook up lies about me. The one I remember vividly is the one they said I stole money and also snatched people’s husbands. I lost a deal worth N50 million from a telecommunication company because of that. It was reported that you were banned for increasing your pay as an actress. There was no ban at all. You promptly responded to OJB’s cry for help and gave him some money. People said it was publicity stunt, while others said it was just your character… I don’t need to be more popular because I am already popular. We were just promoting the ideals of Mercy Johnson Foundation. The idea is to identify the needs, evaluate and help in our own little way. All fingers are not equal. Those in position to help should do so without hesitation. I strongly believe that as stars we should live beyond the euphoria of stardom and the moment. We will not always be here. What happens if you look back and realise you could have done a lot to make the world better when you had the spotlight and you didn’t? I want to live beyond the moment. * Source Nigerian Tribune ]]>

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A Salute to Tabu Ley Rochereau a monument of African music
December 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Emmanuel Zelifac

As Africans and the world celebrate the passing of Nelson Roxihlahla Mandela, we must also salute another great son of Africa-Pascale-Emmanuel Sinamonyi Tabu ,aka Tabu Ley Rochereau. The global iconic status of Mandela meant that the celebration of his extraordinary life eclipsed whatever respect was paid to this other life.

An old African adage holds that when an old one dies, it is akin to burning down a library. African culture and especially its music has lost one of its great libraries.

Congolese song writer and singer, Tabu Ley has passed away. He was in a class of his own, and could only be compared to the likes of Franco Luambo Makiadi, and Joseph kabasele. It is popularly acknowledged that Wendo “Papa Wendo” Kolossoy was the creator of modern Congolese rumba, and its more recent variation, soukous. The likes of Franco, Kabasele, and Tabu Ley and their respective bands took the genre to its apogee.

Pascale-Emmanuel Sinamonyi Tabu was born in 1937, in the then Belgian Congo, in the region of Bandandu. The great vocalist Ndumbe “Pepe Ndumbe” Opetum also hailed from this region.

According to an interview Tabu Ley gave a few years ago, he started singing at the age of Ten (10) in the church choir, at baptisms, and at birthdays. By the late ‘50s, he decided to make music his profession, and threw in his lot with Joseph Kabasele.

In 1956, he joined L’ochestre African Jazz, of Joseph “le grand Kalle” Kabasele.  He took the artistic name of Rochereau, after the French general Pierre Denfert-Rochereau, whom he had learnt of in school. He would play in this band with guitar maestro Dr. Nico Kasanda. This was at the height of the push towards independence, Rochereau would take part in the independence hit songs “independence cha cha” , and “table ronde” . These songs will become sound tracks in the movie “Lumumba”. His presence in African Jazz would come to an end in the early sixties.

By the year 1963, Rocheareau would split from his mentor, Kabasele. Together with Dr. Nico kasanda, he will go on to create a new group. This new group he called Africa Fiesta. A notable song from this period is the hit “Africa mokili mombimba”. However, due to artistic differences with Nico, this collaboration lasted for only two years. Rocheareau split from Nico and went on to form his own band.

Tabu Ley and Mbilia Bel, one of the best duos in African music

Tabu Ley and Mbilia Bel, one of the best duos in African music

This was the era of the great bands. He called the band Africa Fiesta Flash, also known as Africa fiesta national. One of the well known names in this group was Sam Mangwana, a Congolese singer and song writer, of Zimbabwean and Angolan parentage. Some others were Faugus Izeidi, and Michelino. Some of the songs of the era included “Maria Rosa”, also “Femmes Africaines”. During this period, in the late sixties, Rochereau became the first black African musician to give a concert at the famed Parisian arena, “l’Olympia”. He was in his late twenties.

In a bid to make a complete break from the past, Rochereau, in 1970, changed the name of his band. African fiesta national became l’ orchestre Afrisa international.  A young  Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba , Aka Papa Wemba, would become a member of this group.  Ndombe “Pepe Ndumbe” Opetum was the lead vocalist, before joining rival band OK Jazz, led by Franco. Kusala Yondo, aka Yondo Sister began her career with Afrisa International in the 1970s, as a dancer.

Rochereau and Franco, accompanied by their respective bands became the most popular in the Congolese music scene. Fans all over Africa were dancing to the syncopating rhythms of their music. The rivalry between these two, Rochereau and Franco, was an open secret.  Despite this open rivalry, two would collaborate on the album, Omona Wapi, produced in the late ‘70s, featuring the hit title “lettre a monsieur le directeur”. Some other songs of the duo included “lysanga ya baganga”, “linga mobali na yo”, also “kabasele memorial” sung in honor of Joseph Kabasele, after Kalle’s death.

During this period, Afrisa internaltional would also pelt out many hit songs: “Sorozo”,” kaful mayay”, “aon-aon”,” mose kenzo”,” ponce pilate”.

Equally, this was the era when Zairian dictator Joseph-Desire Moubutu instiuted “Zairisation”, a policy marked by “Authenticite”, a return to authentic African roots. Just as Mobutu changed his name to kuku Ngbendu Waza Banga, Franco’s to Luambo Luanzo Makiadi,  Rochereau too Africanised his name , and from then on became Tabu Ley. Hence Tabu Ley Rochereau.

Tabu Ley , within the frame work of Afrisa International, would nurture many upcoming musicians, including Faya Tess. However, singer and songwriter,M’bilia Bel would be the name that will always be associated with Tabu Ley. The duo is probably one of the best male-female collaborations in African music annals. M’bilia’s song “Nakei Nairobi” (I am going to Nairobi) forced the Kenyan government to lift a ban that prevented Kenyan radio stations from playing foreign music. Other songs like “shawuri yako”, “tonton skul”,”cadence madanda” were great hits all over the African continent.

Tabu Ley took part in the salsa project, Gomba salsa, by the group Africando, in which he performed one of his old songs, “pitie”.  In all Tabu wrote, or took part in hundreds of songs.

Emmanuel ZelifacIn his personal life, Tabu was a true African polygamist. He is said to have fathered close to a hundred children. He had more than one wife. He is thought of having briefly been married to M’bilia Bel. She bore him a daughter. Among his many children is French rapper Youssoupha.

In the ‘90s, after the fall of the fall of the dictatorship of Mobutu Sesse Seko, Tabu Ley became a minister. He later joined the transition parliament created by President Joseph Kabila.  In 2005, Tabu Ley became the vice governor of Kinshasa.

During his life time, he was made honorary knight of Senegal, and made officer of the national Order of the republic of Chad.

In 2008 Tabu suffered a stroke. He never fully recovered. While undergoing treatment at saint- Luc hospital in Brussels, Tabu Ley Rocheau gave up the ghost on the 30th of November 2013. A fortnight before that, he had turned 76.

As the fortunes of Africa change in many dimensions, we must salute the great contributions of people like Tabu Ley. Through music he flew the flag of Africa high, very high and falls in the class of others like Franco, Fela, Miriam Makeba, Manu Dibango,Rey Lema and others. His talent and contributions towards modern Africa through music deserve recognition. Adieu to the Artist

 

 

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Femi Kuti is a chip off the old block
November 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

NIGERIAN singer Femi Kuti is continuing his father’s work – using music to fight evil and corruption.

Femi Kuti will play at WOMADelaide 2014. Picture: Supplied

Femi Kuti will play at WOMADelaide 2014. Picture: Supplied

Femi Kuti doesn’t have an entourage of 100 people, as his father, the late Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, did at the height of his stardom.

He has never done time in prison, smoked igbo (marijuana) on stage, or married all 27 of his female backing singers at once. But he is still very much his father’s son.

“Fela used music to fight evil and corruption and stand up for justice,” says the three-times Grammy-nominated Femi, whose current album No Place For My Dreamblends jazz, funk and African rhythms with pidgin English lyrics that tell of everything from the dangers of global warming to his hopes for world peace.

“My father never compromised or surrendered.” Lean and wiry in a purple dashiki shirt, Femi is sitting backstage at KOKOs in Camden, London, where he played a sold-out gig earlier this year. “Fela talked about the suffering of the people,” adds Femi, “and the people respected him for that.”

They still do. Sixteen years after Fela Kuti’s death, his memory burns brighter than ever.

The man they called the Black President always had a large cult following in the west, but when the award-winning musical FELA! opened on Broadway in 2009 – with help from associate producers Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, suddenly the whole world knew his name.

A smash hit in London, now touring the US, FELA! told the story of a classically-trained London College of Music graduate who could have lived a comfortable life outside Africa but chose to remain in Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, where he was a thorn in the side of a brutal military government that repeatedly tried to shut him up.

Officially, Fela Kuti died from complications relating to AIDS – but there are those who insist that he suffered one beating too many.

With a back catalogue of more than 50 albums, Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s legacy is Afrobeat, a hard driving African answer to American funk that boasts long, groove-laden tracks with languid solos; a female vocal chorus that takes part in thrilling call-and-response and, when performing live, some serious booty-shaking. Then there are those simple yet biting lyrics.

“No work no job no money/See the suffering of the people” sings Femi, whose own brand of Afrobeat incorporates genres such as soul, R&B and hip-hop, and even the visceral energy of punk. “Them no getting nothing/Them they’re hungry/From the country where they get oil and many other different resources.”

Nigeria is as messed up as it ever was, says 52-year-old Femi, whose powerful saxophone style, charismatic stage presence and Positive Force orchestra will blow Adelaide’s hair back when he appears at WOMADelaide next March, four years after his last visit to Australia.

“Nigeria is in turmoil,” he says of his gigantic western African nation, home to 250 ethnic groups and 140 million people. “There is corruption and poverty beyond your wildest imagination. My music reminds people what is going on. My songs are part of the fight.”

Femi also chooses to live in Lagos, where he has several girlfriends, is father to eight children – four of whom are adopted – and runs the New Afrika Shrine, a hangar-like venue named after the nightclub that was founded by Fela in 1970, razed to the ground by police in 1977 and rebuilt by Femi and his sister Yeni in 2000.

It’s a space where professional dancers gyrate in wooden cages, a free weekly disco night attracts thousands and the walls are hung with portraits of Malcolm X and the other black leaders who helped shape the thoughts of Fela Kuti – honoured here each October by the annual Felabration festival.

Femi Kuti and his Positive Force Orchestra will play at WOMADelaide 2014. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Femi Kuti and his Positive Force Orchestra will play at WOMADelaide 2014. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

“The government has tried to shut the Shrine down many times,” says Femi, who joined his younger brother Seun Kuti, who fronts their father’s original band Egypt 80, at this year’s Felabration. “But the last time there was very big international outcry.”

Stevie Wonder was one of a number of high-profile stars that signed a petition to have the venue reopened: “There was so much worldwide press from FELA!, so many people talking about Afrobeat, that my family have stopped being persecuted. The government even opened a Fela Kuti museum.”

None of which has made Femi Kuti any less outspoken. This, after all, is the man who, when presented with a new four-wheel-drive by a local politician a few years ago, daubed “Government Bribe” on its sides and drove it from the Shrine to his home 16km away – a journey that with gridlock and diversions can take anything up to two hours.

“We need a pan-African government that loves its people and the continent,” he says, eyes flashing. “Colonial structures are keeping us separate; it suits the west and the corrupt African leaders to leave us like this. We should be opening the borders and building roads down to South Africa.

“But Nigeria still belongs to the people in power. There is no electricity, bad roads, terrible health care. My hope is for a new generation that will stand up to this nonsense,” he adds. “That will speak out and fight.”

Femi was 16 when he started playing saxophone in Egypt 80, and 23 when he stepped in for Fela – who’d just been arrested in Lagos – at a gig at the Hollywood Bowl.

Fela was allegedly a strict taskmaster who rarely praised his son’s achievements, and a man who bore a grudge: when, aged 26, Femi left Egypt 80 to found his own band, father and son didn’t speak for six years.

“Fela had a stubborn character, but that is the character that people now love.”

While Femi eschews monogamy, as his father did, he insists he spends more time making music, playing pool and reading autobiographies (“Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, [the late Ghanaian president] Kwame Nkrumah”) than chasing skirt.

“I am 51 now,” he says. “I have other priorities. I would love to build a studio in Nigeria, to help young artists with their dreams. You know, there are people who tell me that my dreams of peace and love are futile; I tell them I am determined. I am going to keep practising, working hard, touring and dreaming.”

He pauses, smiles. “Big things come out of following your dreams,” he says.

Femi Kuti and Positive Force play WOMADelaide, March 7-10, womadelaide.com.au

*Source http://www.news.com.au

 

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Meet Mrejo, the new kid on the motswako block
November 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

Mrejo

Mrejo

He has been mentored by none other than Zola, and now hip-hop singer-songwriter Mrejo is poised for recognition in his own right with the release of his debut solo album, 1000 Reflections.

This charismatic motswako artist from Mafikeng is releasing his long-awaited first album through BakTu Musik in November 2013, and all indications are that his decade-long journey to find his niche in the local music industry is finally starting to bear fruit.

Mrejo says of the 14-track CD: “The album is based on my personal journey through challenging times in the business. It’s titled 1000 Reflections as a metaphor, referring to someone looking at himself in a shattered mirror.”

He adds: “This project is a personal look at the ups and downs I have faced on my road to success. I really hope it will communicate messages of hope and inspiration to those following in my footsteps.”

The first single, Lehipi (featuring LTK), was released last year to much acclaim, and he will be performing at various venues and festivals throughout the country during November and December to promote the album. First up is an appearance with Mafikizolo at the Red-Ox Inn in Mafikeng on Friday, 15 November 2013 from 5pm.

Mrejo was born Reginald Thapelo Molalabangwe in Mmabatho and began exploring his love for music with a band called BLB in the late 1990s.

He went on to join the group TTC before forming the duo Matona, which released an album and shared stages across the country with the likes of Mandoza, Zola, Mapaputsi, Tshepo Tshola, Brown Dash and Mafikizolo.

Mrejo was steadily building a name for himself, particularly in North West music circles, as a talented songwriter of note. But the following few years were marked by hardship as Mrejo, who had relocated to Pretoria, struggled to balance the demands of a music career with the necessity to make ends meet.

The year 2010 proved to be a turning point for Mrejo, when he started working with Nigerian-born Afrobeat saxophonist Olufemi and was featured on his album. He also featured on a Zola track, and went on to dazzle audiences at the North West Cultural Calabash.

He has been increasingly garnering respect from his music peers as a motswako lyricist of note, including recording a song for the University of Motswako mixtape compilation – a cross-border project for up-and-coming motswako rappers from Botswana and South Africa.

 

The culmination of his long and eventful musical journey is the new album, 1000 Reflections. It sees Mrejo in a confident songwriting space, collaborating with the cream of the Mafikeng musical crop, with Mafikeng FM station manager LTK, Mo’ Molemi and OBK taking turns at the microphone.

Tshepo Vena and Jason Brown lent their veterans’ touch to the production of most of the tracks, while up-and-coming young producers Green Fingures and Wizzy Majwana also added a touch of magic.

The album is already causing a stir in local music circles. Paige Holmes of the Bassline in Newtown said of the laid-back track Monday Morning: “I like the smooth rhythm, which makes you feel like you’re still on the weekend, and is in great contrast to the lyrics – I LIKE!” And KG of Lesedi FM enthused: “The album is nice and balanced.”

Mrejo is also a co-founder of Pro5Media, a one-stop media solution company, and remains a passionate devotee of music who never misses an opportunity to spend time in the studio.

Check out Mrejo, one of local motswako hip-hop’s most exciting new voices, on Facebook (https://www..facebook.com/pages/Mrejo/121762174648130 or

https://www.facebook.com/groups/mrejofanbase/) and Twitter (@mrejo_letsopaa), look out for 1000 Reflections at a record store near you, and see him in action at one of the following gigs.

View a video at http://youtu.be/AtmKkZdKNWg

 

Mrejo’s upcoming gigs:

•             Friday, 15 November: Red-Ox Inn, Mafikeng

•             Thursday, 28 November: Ikageng Pub, Potchefstroom

•             Saturday, 7 December: Venue TBC, Welkom

•             Sunday, 15 December: Mmabatho Music Festival

•             Wednesday, 1 January 2014: Disaneng Music Festival

 

For media queries, interview requests or access to high resolution pictures please contact Dee’s on media@jtcomms.co.za or 011 788 7632

 

Issued by JT Communication Solutions on Behalf of BakTu Musik – http://www.baktumusik.co.za

 

Tumi Peter

BakTu Musik

Cell: 083 750 5764

Fax: 086 692 0360

Skype: tumzapg

Twitter: @BakTuMusik

Email: tumi@baktumusik.co.za

Web: www.baktumusik.co.za

 

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Kenyan actress stirs Hollywood buzz
September 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

Kenyan actress Lupita Nyongo is receiving rave reviews for her role in the movie 12 Years a slave

By ANTONY KARANJA*

MELupitaNyongoKenyan actress Lupita Nyongo is receiving rave reviews for her role in the movie 12 Years a slave after the film’s worldwide premiere at the Galaxy Theaters in the Tulleride Film Festival in Colorado on Friday night.

Several US movie critics have also gone out of their way to predict an Oscar nod for the film and for Ms Nyong’o with most agreeing that the actress has a bright future ahead of her in Hollywood.

The film, which is two hours and fourteen minutes long, created a huge buzz at the festival and many critics predicted it is going to hit the US in a “big way” when it is released in the US on October 18th due to its harsh indictment of the slavery era in the country.

TRUE STORY

The movie is based on the true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. Critics consider Ejiofor as a leading contender for the best actor award at the Oscars.

The film also features famed actor Brad Pitt, actress Andre Woodard and Quvenzhané Wallis, the 10- year-old actress who played the role of Hushpuppy in the critically acclaimed drama film Beasts of the Southern Wild.

In a movie review by The Hollywood Reporter, Ms Nyong’o is named as one of the possible front-runners for an Oscar in the best supporting actress role. She is up against alongside Hollywood heavy hitters who include Oprah Winfrey (for her role as Lee Daniels in “The Butler), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County), Naomi Harris (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) and Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle).

The magazine correctly predicted 8 of the 9 eventual best picture Oscar nominees and the eventual best actor and best actress Oscar winners for the 2012 and 2013 awards.

The Hollywood Reporter’s lead awards analyst Scott Feinberg however cautions that predictions this early before three other major film festivals to be held in Venice, Toronto and New York may be premature. He however writes that “12 Years A Slave” should make a strong push for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor race.

He also adds that the film should also make an impact in the supporting categories, where Michael Fassbender (as a slave owner) and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o stand good chances of breaking through.

In August of 2012, Ben Affleck’s “Argo” debuted at the Telluride Film Festival and received rave reviews from critics attending the prestigious festival.

Many critics and viewers predicted Oscar nominations for the film after the premiere. Six months after the festival, “Argo” scooped the Best Picture at the 85th annual Academy Awards.

In another major entertainment magazine Variety.com, movie critic Peter Debrudge also had a high praise for Miss Nyongo’s performance. He writes;

“For sheer productivity, none of the slaves comes close to Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), a soft-spoken beauty of whom Epps is especially fond, much to the consternation of his severe wife (Sarah Paulson).…” he wrote.

UPCOMING PROJECTS

“Actresses like Nyong’o don’t come along often, and she’s a stunning discovery amidst an ensemble that carves out room for proven talents such as Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard and Brad Pitt to shine,” he concludes.

In another review in the Los Angeles Times, Ms Nyong’o is described as staging a breakout performance.

According to HotFix.com another movie review website, Ms Nyongo is said to have “eloquently convinced the audience why her character sees death as her only viable escape.”

“It’s the film’s breakthrough performance and may find Nyong’o making her way to the Dolby Theater (where the Academy/Oscar Awards are held) next March,” the website adds.

In June, the Director of the movie Steve McQueen said of Lupita Nyongo: “a star is born.”

Kenyans will in February 2014 see Ms Nyong’o in another Hollywood movie Non-Stop which is an action thriller featuring Liam Neeson who starred in the movies Taken and Unknown.

*Source Daily Nation Kenya

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