Nigeria is a breeding ground for all sorts of talents.
Some eventually become big in the country, others add international audience to their fan base, while yet others take it away totally, leaving little to show for their virtuosity in their home country yet becoming huge outside its shores.
Many traditional musicians are examples in the first category. The great Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and his sons are examples of the second category. More in that category include Wizkid, D’banj and many others. At first attempt, there may be a bit of hesitation while selecting examples for the last category. Rest assured, examples abound.
Here are five sterling examples of Nigerians making it big in alternative music outside of the country but less known at home.
1. Keziah Jones
Keziah Jones, real name, Olufemi Sanyaolu is a Nigerian singer-songwriter and guitarist who got his first international recording deal on the streets of France in 1990.Like Fela Kuti who is one of the biggest influence in Keziah Jones’ career, the artist carved a niche for himself by creating blufunk. The music sub-genre is a crossbreed of raw blues elements; hard, edgy funk rhythms and a generous dose of Yoruba traditional music.
The 49-year-old who continues to perform on live stages throughout the world has six studio albums, most of which topped charts in faraway Australia, France, Germany and other European countries.
Even though he was born in Lagos, and has returned to the country several times after making several international hits, he is not very popular in his country.
Watch Keziah perform Rhythm is love.
Kah-Lo, real name Faridah Seriki is a Nigerian artiste who was nominated for the 2017 Grammy awards for her vocal works on in Rinse and Repeat by British Disk Jockey, Riton.Although not popular in Nigeria, the four-minute track song was released as a digital download in the United Kingdom on February 26, 2016. The song entered the UK Singles Chart at number 13 and at number 2 on the UK Dance Chart.
The song was streamed millions of times on Spotify, and on Youtube.
Kah-Lo is a daughter of former Nigerian Minister of Defence and Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Chief Demola Seriki.
Watch Rinse & Repeat featuring Kah-Lo
Born Joseph Junior Adenuga to Nigerian parents who migrated to Britain, Skepta is one of the leading figures in grime music, a fusion of electronic music, ragga, rap and dancehall music which originated from Britain. Since 2006, the 34-year-old has released five mixtapes and four albums including Konnichiwa which was awarded the Mercury prize as Album of the year in 2016.Listen to Skepta’s Konnichiwa
Like Skepta, Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu, popularly known as Tinie Tempah, also performs the grime genre. Before releasing his debut album, Disc-Overy which was certified platinum just four months after it was released in 2010, Tinie Tempah released two singles, “Pass Out” and “Written in the Stars” both of which sat comfortably on the British charts.Tinie Tempah gained some fame in Nigeria after Jumoke Orisagunna, the bread hawker became a star model.
Jumoke was accidentally photographed by TY Bello during a photo shoot session with Tinie Tempah.
Watch Tinie Tempah’s video.
5. Oghene Kologbo
Oghene Kologbo is a Warri, Delta State born Afrobeat musician.
The 59-year-old musician played tenor guitar in Fela Anikikulapo Kuti’s Africa 70 for the whole life of the band.
He has also worked with great musicians like James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Lester Bowie, Paul McCartney and so on. Oghene Kologbo is popular in Bruxelles, Berlin and the rest of the European music circuit, yet little is known of him in Nigeria.
Oghene Kologbon live on stage