Monday, April 24, 2017

I’m Under Pressue to Change My Style

Kefas at Eyana Kpaja

Kefas Sabo is a reggae artist that holds the promise of becoming the next big star in Plateau State and beyond. After watching his music video for his award-winning song Seventeen Questions, I vowed to meet with him.

Kefas told me that he was born in Zaria, Kaduna State, his native state. At age six, he moved to live with his aunt, who worked with a federal health institution, in Plateau State. Since he moved to Plateau State at a very tender age, all his education was in Plateau State, starting from primary to the polytechnic, where he obtained a Higher National Diploma in Mining Engineering. 

He discovered his music talent after joining his church’s band in Barkin Ladi town. In the band, known as Sammies band, he met talented members such as Iliya, James, and some other guys who love reggae. His talent became manifest when he was given a chance to lead the group. He discovered he flowed well, not only with the band, but with the congregation that resonated with his lead role, sometimes becoming emotional and crying. 

Kefas, who loves Jamaican Christopher Martin’s reggae crossover, talked about how his songs get revealed. The songs often come as a bouquet that involves the melody and the lyrics, while he walks along the road, or when he is alone in a quiet place. When that happens, he says, he records the melody using his phone. Later he develops the lyrics fully. 

Kefas is extremely proud of the way his music move people. When he ministered with his music for the first time, there were two women who sat on the front row. They laughed at the first line of his songs because it sounded frivolous: “I’m angry because there is no salt in my meal…” But then, in the course of the song, there was this line that said, “Someone is crying because he hasn’t got what to eat…” Kefas said that, after this line, he noticed the expression on the faces of the women changed; they started crying. At the end of the show, they approached him and told him he was anointed.
Kefas has enjoyed some of the rewards of his talent. While at the Eyana Kpaja Orientation Camp, during his youth service, he won Airtel’s Copa Has Got Talent contest, for which he received the sum of N200, 000.00. He also won the PRTVC/Sauti Lab Award for the Best Reggae Artist of The Year, 2012. Each time he walks along the road, children mime his songs and point at him.

Kefas’ songs are rendered in both Hausa and English. I asked him if he thinks that doesn’t affect the complexion of the music. He said that, for him, it boils down to ministering. When he sings in Hausa, he is targeting the large Hausa-speaking population of northern Nigeria, and when he sings in English, he is targeting the English-speaking population. He says that one of his songs titled, “Which Image are You,” has been used by an American pastor, each time he’s preparing to deliver a sermon in the US. 

As for challenges, Kefas says he is facing a challenge that is truly mountainous: a lot of people are telling him to change his music genre to Nigerian R&B. How he reacts to this challenge will confirm (or do otherwise) the saying that reggae can bring down Babylon.

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