About 10 years ago, erstwhile Chocolate City sign-on, Jeremiah Gyang, left the records label and literally dropped out of Lagos – the proverbial land of milk and honey for many Nigerian music artistes.
For a while, most fans did not know where the singer, whose hit song, Na Ba Ka, once ruled the music scene for several months at a stretch, had gone until a few days ago when our correspondent caught up with him in Kaduna doing his thing at the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival.
Explaining why he had been ‘absent without order of leave’, Gyang said, “I have been living and working in Jos these past years. As you can see, I am quite busy doing my thing around the North. I had to leave the entertainment scene in Lagos and return to the North because I was tired of trying to seek favour from some of the key players in the music industry.”
The singer also blamed his unceremonious exit from the entertainment circles in Lagos on what he described as the existence of “cliques”.
“It seems as if a lot of musicians in Lagos are getting attached to cliques within the entertainment industry and if you do not belong to such groups, you won’t get far. Since I came to the show business terrain there with my brothers from the North and I fell out with them.
“Of course, nobody would admit me into their camp. There was no need for me to continue to stay in Lagos because I felt that I was wasting my time. I had to go to somewhere else that I would be relevant. Eventually I found relevance here in the North,” he said.
Wondering why Lagos-based musicians were often paid more attention than their colleagues living in other parts of the country, he added, “Everybody feels that Lagos is the best place to be. But, what many people do not know is that there are so many good musicians in other parts of the country that are doing a lot.
“I think that what the music industry in Nigeria needs is a kind of decentralised system – something like the East Coast and West Coast music movements in the United States of America. The East Coast was existing before some people founded the West Coast. I think we need this kind of thing in Nigeria right now, so that some people will learn to appreciate what we are doing in Nigeria.”
Gyang noted that since he made the decision to return to Jos, his career had taken a new and positive turn. “I have been doing different things with my music in ways that I never imagined before. I have been working with different kinds of bands, including the Boys’ Brigade and women fellowships that played local music in churches.”
Asked why Nigerian musicians, especially the younger ones, always end up breaking their relationship with owners of with records labels in the country, he said, “The moment you sign a deal with a records label as a young artiste and you don’t understand the implication of what you have just done, when the time comes to pay the piper and you don’t have the money to do so, then you are in trouble. Right now, I am not necessarily plugged into the Lagos circuit. I do my things my own way and I am not signed on to any records label.”
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