Nigerian Afrojazz Icon, Shola Emmanuel Out of Labour Room

Shola Emmanuel

By Oluwatosin Oladipo

There are some things in life that can’t wait. The calls of nature like sleep for instance will often push you for instantaneous responses. They refuse to respect or respond to the dignity of your office or the solemnity of the occasion. When they come, it is in your best interest to resolve them before proceeding to other things. But often these natural priorities can be accommodated and housed in man’s ever busy schedule.

Hmm! There is one exception to this rule. When a woman gets into labour everything else wait. Can you imagine a woman in the pangs of labour worrying about her burning pot of soup? Can you imagine her worrying that the laundry is not done? Can you imagine her worrying about the ‘Aso-ebi’ for the party she wants to attend by the weekend? As important as these things may be to her, when she gets into the labour room, they will all have to wait.

Shola Emmanuel, an afrojazz music interpreter and an exemplary Nigerian wind instrument master came out of Labour room successfully despite the C19 brouhaha. He has been promoting African culture with His Kind of music via afrojazz pattern with his native language (Yoruba) for more than 2 decades. 

Every other thing was shutdown because of this new born baby christened ‘Kind of Music' which is release at this time to encourage and give hope to the weary and hopeless people to see opportunities ahead (ODODO).
COVID 19 Experience
Shutting down of churches, clubs, large gathering affected many instrumentalists who solely depend on their performances to survive across the globe. 

C-19 is a terrible experience for many entrepreneur and musicians but also a blessing in disguise. In as much as music requires so much from us, if we don't dedicate time to it, we will never have enough of it especially for the passionate talents. If you can do music or learn a musical instrument to a reasonable perfection, you can do just about anything else you wish to commit to.’ Emmanuel declares.

We are now in the new economy (Digital Economy) where businesses are done on the Cloud without physical appearance. He declares that ‘I do not need an office any longer, I do not need bulky files or fireproof cabinets. People can work from home, from their cars and from the forest or beach. Who cares? Just get the job done. I took advantage of this Covid-19 Incubation to think convergently by moving most of my product to the online shops like Spotify, Itune, Amazon, YouTube, mixl and do more of virtual concert on google meet, facebook and zoom to link up with my fans.’ 

Creativity and Opportunity
Craft your work and make work as craft. With the right approach, you can find meaning in almost any Job. To find meaning in your work, change how you think about it.

On this note Shola Sax attest that ‘Music is a global project that is changing lives positively or negatively through its power. 

However, making a positive difference with my music from being a local music icon to a global music influencer is a product of hard work which other young Nigerian Musician should emulate as guide to build their musical direction from foundation. Giving out free instruments to potentials to enhance their growth and learning is great, some people are lucky to get good learning experience but most of us were wrongly taught and it's still happening, which is sad because the consequences are contagious.’

To be an exceptional or exemplary person, we must have a standard and working goals driven by passion. ‘My being an icon of emulation comes from the focus of cultivating the inner worlds and outer qualities of character by Grace, Composure, Poised and many more.’ Shola Emphasized.

Inside His Global Music Legacies
It is a known fact that 90 percent of global legacies initiators are once a local transformation driver. No one can be a Global business citizen without being a local business citizen first according to business Life Africa. 

Emmanuel made his first international appearance as a trumpet player at the LeZènith stage in Paris and his performance with Andy Narell amidst over 80,000 participants at the South Africa Art Alive Festival in 1999. He switched from trumpet to saxophone in 2004. In 2015 one of his composed lyrics ‘Modupe’ was regarded as one of the best live jazz performances.

His musical expertise is fashioned with three-way core value - music, culture and gospel which earned him dignity and probity to be crowned as an exceptional African Afrojazz brand locally and internationally.

 His like-mindedness with music has gone beyond just playing the saxophone to structure associations that bridge gaps, surpasses blockades and speaks deeply to those who have come to love his passionate approach to music.

Dissecting few out of his collaborations includes performance with Bobby Ricketts at the US Department of State’s Art Envoy program; French artists Thibault Cauvin, CAB (Caraïbes Afrique Brésil ), Mario Canonge (Piano), Blick Bassey (Singer Guitarist), Adriano Tenoriodd (Percussionist) and recordings with the French International School; and America’s Stephan Wremble, Henhouse Prowlers. 

In 2014, at the French Embassy Abuja, Nigeria played host to Shola Emmanuel Rhythm & Sax. He featured at Daniel Pearl’s world music days celebration, in the concert theme “Harmony for Humanity “, and a tribute to Daniel Pearl, James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines by Steven Hendrix. 

The Nigerian artiste has also taken his unique Afro Jazz style across borders, and was privileged to work with world class musicians such as Matteo Pastorino (Switzerland), Jean Baptist Pinet (France), Bertrand Bernard (Norway), Rafael Paseiro (The Congo), Johan Blanc (America), and Michele Anna Artiste (France). The program agenda included Teaching African Music/Rhythms, excursions, performances and studio recording.

His sharing of music and culture of Africa with the American audience initiated amazing collaborations with noted American artistes, students and keen audience. 

However, In his bid to align himself with masters of the genre, he spent time exploring new realms and horizons with masters of his art at the professional music scene, including Quincy Jones, Kirk Whalum, Avishai Cohen, Herbie Hancock, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Eric Mariental, Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, Eric Essix, Alicia Keys, Mary J Blige, Esperanza, Muyiwa Kunnuji, Russell Gunn, Joe Grendson, amongst others.

Influencer/Role Model
Several people influenced Shola sax music career as a composer, instrumentalist and interpreter, few of them are Fela Kuti, Lagbaja, Muyiwa Kunnuji (Osemako), Yanni, Beyonce, Hugh Masekela, Angelique Kidjo, Sting, Kirk Whalum and Kamasi Washington.
"Kind of Music" rhythm is the beginning of many great things from the deep of African heritage mixed with Western harmony. His genre is classified: World Music; Afro-jazz; Jazz. One of the songs on this album title, Story Story (rebirth) is presently placed for one of America's award-winning movies.

 ‘If I could meet, play an engagement, co-write a song, have dinner, drink with any band or artistes I will choose 2face Idibia, Beyoncé, Sting and most of the Nigerian afro pop legends.’ He declares

His Brief History
Shola Emmanuel is an African style and culture interpreter, popularly known as ‘Shola Sax of Rhythm & Orchestra fame.’ A Nigerian saxophonist and recording artist who creatively modes and blends music that forages off African traditional rhythm while sustaining western class, voice and style. He is the Captivating founder and leader of the renowned jazz ensemble.

He was born in Lagos, Nigeria raised by his grandparents with diverse exposure and routine. Shola likes live performance than the rigid recording pattern that limit social interaction for it served as the podium for communicating harmony to the world without language barriers. Either playing saxophone, singing in dialect, talking with accent... someone just love the sound coming out without perturbing about meanings, color or tribe.

His artistic creativity through involvement in a lot of drawings, paintings, sculpture and other creative arts including daily training in martial arts at the Ikeja spot center from kid added more values to his music esthetics in communicating with the world. 
He is a certified music professional and information technology in computing home and abroad.

Advise to Performing and Prospect Artiste
“Most people see the office as a place where they work. I see it as my labour room. This is where I go to deliver all the ideas that have fertilized my mind. This is where I do the hardwork of giving birth to my brainchildren. I will not be deterred nor distracted. 

What is at stake is much greater than the little annoyances I am getting from lack of finance, or the squabble with an irresponsible driver on the road, or the fight with my spouse last night. I am here to deliver and I must have the labour room mentality.” Said Shola

What is the natural boundary limiting your progress? What are the natural predators stalking and aiming at you? Is it possible that this dream will die or be killed at birth? Only time will tell. But I won’t worry about that now. You shouldn’t either. Close your eyes. 

Take a deep breath….P-U-S-S-S-H-H-H!.... P-U-U-S-S-S-S-H-H-H!! The woman in labour is focused on delivering her child. That is all that counts. What is your child? Please don’t get distracted by the Pandemic saga. Make this year count.

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