The music blaring from the loudspeakers strategically positioned in the serene neigbhourhood of Boet Estate, in Ikeja, Lagos, ultimately triggered several pleasant memories of the past.
Soon, the music loving residents started thronging the entertainment outlet, The Kulture Yard, located within the neigbhourhood to feel the vibes of the old tunes.
It was indeed, a moment of reunion with the legendary singer, Mike Okri last Sunday night, when the ‘Omoge’ crooner stepped on stage again, to rekindle his old passion. The event was an album listening party for his comeback EP, which has “Lend the Hand” as its title track.
As far back as many music lovers can remember, Mike Okri was one of the formidable forces in the country’s music scene before his sudden disappearance from the scene, opting instead for a quiet life in the United States.
Alongside the likes of late Ras Kimono, Dizzy K Falola, Okri infused pop music with a fresh, invigorating sound in the late 1980s.
Prior to Mike Okri’s performance, another music legend in the house, Sunny Neji eulogized ‘Omoge’ crooner, as a pioneer of “Afro-mystic Soul”, a fusion of Nigerian highlife and soul.
He recalled how the legendary singer affected his career positively, describing him as ‘a legend in the true sense of the word.”
Neji said his story ‘cannot be complete without mentioning the all-important role that Mike Okri played in my career.’
He continued: ‘Mike may not remember that he affected my career positively a long time ago, when I was just coming into music industry. I didn’t even know my left from my right. I just had the fire burning in me, I wanted to sing, I wanted to play music. Those days, there used to be a process unlike today, where the artistes will just walk into the studio to record their songs.”
“I went to Tabansi Record, one of the leading record labels in those days to record my song. Mike just stormed the studio to see what was happening and he saw this young man, recording in the studio. When he saw me, he volunteered to add his voice to that song. And immediately he sang, I was lost in the studio.”
“When I got home and played back that recording, I didn’t hear my voice again. I was imagining how it was possible for someone to sing like that. I wondered if I could be able to sing like Mike. That kind of challenged me. I was listening to Mike every day. In fact, I was using him to do my voice training. Mike is a legend in the true sense of the word. Just as he has affected my career positively, he has also affected hundreds and thousands of other artistes . I am very happy to be part of this album listening party, the ‘Oruka’ singer said.
Thereafter, Mike Okri stepped on stage to do what he knows how to do best, dishing out hits after hits.
He took the audience on a musical journey, reliving memories of his yesteryears’ exploits on stage. Opening his electrifying performance with “Wisdom”, one of the evergreen songs in his third album, ‘Cracks”, Mike Okri practically returned to his old self, moving from one song to another, while the audience were tapping and shaking their heads. But when he sang , “Time Na Money’, and “Omoge” from his debut album “Concert Fever”, the whole vicinity erupted with excitement, as everyone took to the floor, dancing and singing along with him.
He also sang few numbers from his second album, ‘Rhumber Fever.” But the high-point of the night was when he sang his own version of “African Queen”, which is one of the songs in his EP. Singing the melodious “African Queen,” Okri revealed that he recorded the song long before 2face even thought of writing one, adding that it was written as a soundtrack for a yet to be shot movie.
According to him, apart from the title, his own ‘African Queen’, has no relationship with 2face’s.
‘There is no relationship between 2face’s ‘African Queen’ and my own ‘African Queen. The titles could be the same but the lyrics are different,’ he added.