For me, jazz is mature, the freedom of music – Shadare
Ayoola Shadare is one of the leading voices in the Nigerian jazz scene. He is the CEO of Inspiro Productions and the organizer of the Lagos International Jazz Festival. Shadare, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday at his Lagos residence, recalls his passion for music, especially jazz, festivals, the music industry and other issues in this interview with BLESSING UWUMA INNOCENT
You are the CEO of Inspiro Productions. Why the choice of the name Inspiro?
The choice of the name Inspiro, is inspirational, and it is biblical. The book of Job 32.8 says, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives him understanding.” So we took it from the word inspiration, and it was the Scripture that informed our departure.
Which institution is really informed about Inspiro Productions?
Inspiro Productions was created to promote and produce music or anything creative – entertainment, events and activations – when we launched it. We had a company before that called Presentations Plus that was more focused on integrated marketing communications. But Inspiro Productions was more like productions of festivals, shows, concerts, events in fact.
What made you addicted to Jazz?
For me, what got me addicted to jazz, I’ve told the story over and over again, is my late father’s love for it. But to bring it back, it’s free music. I even found out that even as a college student, my friend and I listened to a lot of jazz music, in addition to popular music. But jazz music, which when you want to differentiate jazz music from other kinds of music, they’ll say there is head music and there is body music, and jazz, as you know, it’s music while you could work, while you could do other things. And it’s instrumental music, mature music, so to speak. These are things that got me addicted to jazz, and more so when we went to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, I saw what people used to make jazz music. These are the kinds of things that got me hooked. Like I said, it’s cool music; it’s head music. It is the music of freedom. Jazz is music of freedom. I like improvisation; I like the call and the response that exists between the musicians.
You are also the organizer of the Lagos International Jazz Festival (LIJF). What was the main idea of ââthe Festival?
The Lagos International Jazz Festival, for me, is a tourist, artistic and cultural event. This is an event that we wanted to make a signature event, an event that would also describe the city of Lagos and place it on the world map as one of the best festivals in the world. There are world jazz festivals. Our intention was to place him in this world jazz circuit. So that’s the main idea, to give our musicians a platform. Although the festival is produced locally to invite international artists and also to give our local home based musicians an international stage to be able to represent their art. This is one of the underlying ideas. And that also comes from when we went to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in 2005. I saw the impact that this festival has had on this country, on the economy and on tourism. All that summed up is what prompted the idea of ââthe Lagos International Jazz Festival.
Is this also why over the years, you have reproduced the LIJF experience in other regions of Nigeria with several jazz concerts including the Bayelsa International Jazz Festival, Naijazzâ¦?
Yes, I think the genre of music lends itself to travel and tourism. When you organize a jazz festival, you complement the tourism with; you invite not only national tourism but also international tourism. You have international arrivals if the festival is well organized and marketed. Thus, over the years, we have put LIJF’s experience in the organization of other jazz festivals. We did the Bayelsa International Jazz Festival. We were invited in 2013 to start this for them. We also did Naijazz, which is a platform to project our contemporary Nigerian indigenous music. Naijazz is a fusion of indigenous Nigerian music and jazz, so you could have juju, highlife, afrobeat, all kinds, fused together to make that distinct Nigerian sound.
Would you say the idea is coming true?
We do it by pushing the vision, by doing it. There are times when we can do it big; there are times when we can do it small. But the most important thing is that we do it, whether it’s big or small. The most important thing is that we are there ensuring that the dream and the vision is taken to the next level.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic and the various restrictions that followed affect your Jazz projects?
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone. In 2020, we were unable to host our Lagos International Jazz Festival (LIJF), and with the closing of clubs and lounges, we were not able to have the small jazz programs that we had in various areas. We weren’t even supposed to attend festivals that we normally attend outside the country. So that affected that, but even as the year went on and we entered 2021, we realized we couldn’t just sit around and wait for Covid-19 to go down. People were starting to adjust; it’s either you adapt, or you adopt it, or you die. And then the idea of ââhaving a virtual edition of LIJF came along, because the pandemic has moved everyone online. So, people are now consuming things online. Lots of businesses go online; a lot of events are online. And even when Covid-19 ends, it won’t go away. You will find that both online and offline, the hybrid event has come to stay. So, yes we affected then but we adapt and adopt and move on.
What were the challenges when you started?
Challenges like finance, good hands to run the business, get customers and keep them happy, finance the business, try to take the business to the next level, try to let people know what you’re trying to achieve do so that they can patronize you. Back then, it was difficult to get loans and support for small and medium businesses, unlike today, you can easily get a loan easily.
You celebrated your 50th birthday last week. Tell us, how do you feel about joining the golden age group?
Yes, I celebrated my 50th birthday but I don’t feel that I was in my fifties because I feel very young at heart. The feeling is the same that I was 30 and 40 years old. But thank goodness I have motivation and something to do when I wake up and I think that’s what keeps people young. I am truly thankful to God for keeping my life and there is still a lot to do now, we are going to roll up our sleeves and do more.
As a music promoter, would you consider promoting other genes in music such as hip hop, especially if the need arises?
I consider myself to be a jazz and music promoter, event promoter and show promoter. I would consider promoting other genres of music as long as it is good music. We will promote good music and encourage the evergreen genre of music, there are various music that I will not touch for some reason, but this is good, attractive and commercial and has a target that will listen to it when needed will be felt. Go over there.
Who are your favorite Nigerian musicians? Why?
When I watch a lot of guys who like music apart from my jazz musician, I like their music like Mike Aremu, Davido, the old masters, Zeal Onyia Eddy Okonta, Dr Victor Olaiya and contemporary musicians like 2face and Sound Sultan, whom I love very much (He goes through challenges, and I pray that he will come out of it successfully. Have you been embarrassed? What happened? Who has never been embarrassed before? I did but can’t really remember I can’t quite put my finger on embarrassing moments.
No regrets really. I love what I do, I love being in the music and entertainment industry. I like to use my God given talent to adapt to my vocation. For me, what I do is not work because it comes naturally, it is a good solution for me. . I have no regrets, happy to have taken this direction and there is a bright future and the best is yet to come so to speak.
What is your take on the Nigerian music industry today?
The Nigerian music industry is structuring because the problem we had was structure, royalties, anti-piracy and resources and these are addressed when there is a royalty collection initiative. The industry is growing and 50% of the music content on the continent, we can see our boys making the headlines making waves like Wizkid and Burna Boy winning the Grammy Awards, and they paved the way for more guys to edge so it’s a rapidly developing industry, the industry is like a gold mine waiting to be tapped and developed.
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