Dealing with artists' ego, temperament, overblown expectations, and other unforeseen problems, is often the root cause of aggravation that faces the record labels the world over. Just because an artist sings as well, or better than anyone on the charts, should not be the only reason to sign him or her. Ceteris paribus, things being equal, many factors should be considered besides just an artist's voice. An artist must not only sound great in the studio, but also on stage. An artist must possess a professional attitude, an unsurpassed musicianship, and great skills. An artist must take his or her image seriously; possessing a decent personality is always an asset.
In his first album for NPC Audioworks, the incandescent young saxophonist Kola Ogunkoya offers a euphonious smorgasbord of world musical favorites. The enchantingly mysterious sound of the wind instrument, saxophone, clears the way for dundun, the talking drum, which in turn opens the way for the rattling piano, congas, maracas, and omele, which eventually introduce the overpowering, but melodious, vocal of Kola Ogunkoya himself. Popularly known as Gbedumaster, Kola Ogunkoya is a multi-instrumentalist who has a solid background in Afro Jazz, Afro Pop, Afro Beat, and World Beat; with this album, he combines all the genres.
Born on August 20, 1967 in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria, the son of an itinerant police officer, Kola developed an early interest in musical instruments by watching a police marching band play across the barracks. He attended Ima Blom-Blom Nursery & Primary School at Owerri. He was barely in primary four when his father was transferred to Lagos. At an early age Kola experienced some of the vices of our society like discrimination, nepotism, and ethnocentrism. Although both his parents are Yoruba from the Western part of Nigeria, Kola was born in Iboland - the Eastern Nigeria. So when it came the time to go to school in Lagos, his inability to communicate in Yoruba did him in. After wasting a whole year at home, Kola's father decided to take him and his other sibling to their hometown of Shagamu in Ogun State. Kola and his brother were admitted to St. Paul Primary School, Post Office Road in Shagamu, but they had to start from scratch due to no-nonsense academic stringencies in the West. However, a couple of years later, Kola went back to join his parents in Lagos where he attended Ojuwoye Primary School at the back of Olosan Police Barracks in Mushin.
In 1979 Kola attended Okota Community High School where he was introduced to a different lifestyle. Kola confirms the influence that a bad environment can exert on innocent youngsters: "At Okota, it was a no-man's land. I mean -total anarchy! Teachers weren't teaching. Students weren't learning. It was a sort of Banana Republic; everybody was waywardly. I had to take to boxing in order to survive." Kola seriously became involved in pugilism at the National Stadium, Surulere in Lagos; he fought his way to the top and became the Lagos State Amateur Boxing champion. In 1982, even as a relentless boxer, Kola involved himself in church activities; eventually, joining the Aladura Church choir group. He started with percussion and congas and later graduated to using a trumpet. Kola represented Lagos State at the national boxing level and eventually qualified to represent Nigeria in the Olympics. Kola's ambition to become a professional pugilist was ruined when his disciplinarian father caught a wind of it and frowned at the idea. In 1985, Kola sadly "retired" from boxing. Having nothing else going on for him, Kola concentrated on his church as a faithful chorister.
From 1982 to 1985 Kola received tutelages from Baba Ishola a.k.a Baba show, who played alto sax in Fela Kuti's Egypt '80 band. The talented Baba Ishola taught Kola how to play saxophone, brass horn, and trumpet. Then from 1986 to 1987 he secured a long-term gig with the legendary Dr. Victor A. Olaiya and his All Stars Band. The band played (highlife) regularly at the popular Stadium Hotel in Surulere, Lagos. Armed with these necessary experiences, Kola became a professional musician, freelancing with superstars like Handsome Wale Abiodun (tenor guitar), Dayo Kujore (keyboard), and Saura Alhaji (also keyboard).
In 1987 Kola elected to attend the prestigious Ibadan Polytechnic in Oyo State to sharpen his technical skills; meanwhile, he continued to freelance professionally in order to stay afloat financially.
In 1988 Kola recorded his first LP, "Na Je Je," which didn't come out until 1990 due to financial constraints. As a matter of fact, this record would not have made it if not for King Sunny Ade, the Juju maestro, who graciously intervened and gave Kola #20,000 (Twenty thousand naira) to complete the project. It took another five years for the record to gain national recognitions. In 1995, Kola released the video and, the record topped the Nigeria's music charts for one year.
In 1996, having become a household name, Kola took part in the renowned Benson & Hedges' annual Golden Tone Concert in the company of music giants like King Sunny Ade, Wasiu Ayinde, Ras Kimono, Sanni Danindo, and Bright Chimeze. In the summer of 1996, Kola traveled briefly to both New York and Chicago in the United States of America; he applied to the Chicago Jazz Festival in Illinois, African World Festival in Detroit, Michigan, and Lafayette Reggae Festival in Louisiana before he returned to Nigeria.
The following year, in 1997, Kola returned to America to attend the festivals alongside internationally acclaimed musicians like Mighty Sparrow - the Calypso king, Benny Man - the Reggae crooner, and others. In recognition of his outstanding musicality, the American World Music Award voted Kola the Best African Entertainer of the Year.
Kola's vocal lyricism, which is groovy, bluesy, and romantic, coupled with his dexterous ingenuity, induced NPC Audioworks to approach him about producing an album. All of the works in this album underscore the artistry and wizardry of tone and musicianship that are the hallmarks of Kola's personality. A lyric writer, composer, arranger, vocalist, instrumentalist, and conductor, Kola occupies a very proud place in international music arena. Kola's music wraps one spellbound and makes one wonder if it's indeed floating in from out of this world. To date, Kola has released six albums and, this work, "My Darling," is his seventh.
As the Executive Producer, it is my distinct privilege and pleasure to introduce to you the music of the very talented Kola Ogunkoya - Gbedumaster - a multi-instrumentalist whose future in the world of music looks very, very bright.
NPC Records . Audioworks