As a musician or entertainer, your performer act would involve bringing to full bear, a totality of your musical showmanship. This will entail various forms of creative arts including a live vocal rendition backed accordingly with live instrumentation, stage theatrics which is not restricted to dance alone and largely, the need to communicate with your viewing audience.
As a matter of fact, there are principles and ethics that govern the performing art generally but here in Nigeria, a good majority of our superstars are quick to adjudge themselves as entertainers simply because they can carry a crowd with their brazen confidence on stage and a reckless show of energy. Some of them suck at dancing, others might turn out terrible actors if they dared try and worse off, more of them cannot belt out their raw vocals to sound anything like their studio records.
It is on these afore-mentioned premise that we would be profiling a select few who have been found worthy to grace our list of Top Performing Sensations in Nigeria. It is not for everybody so your sentiments are allowed, they are very welcome. Also note that the intention was to keep the list short and as such we deeply regret the other names that had to be cut. Doesn’t mean their inputs aren’t recognize nor their efforts unappreciated.
Some of y’all may dispute with very tenable reasons why the alingo brothers shouldn’t be on this list, I’m quite indifferent too but I mean you gotta hand it to them if not for anything but for the spark they put into any show. When you watch Peter and Paul live, it’s like reliving moments from their music videos – you find confidence, co-ordination, energy and finesse in their stage routines. Although they are guilty of singing to backing tracks but they usually have a acoustic set where their drummer, Papii J sends the audience into a thrill frenzy with riveting renditions from his percussion kit. Whatever the case, you can bet on P-Square to keep you entertained and I’m not just referring to feats like waking up a slumbered audience or Peter falling off stage because of overdo. As such, it’s not much a wonder why they’re one of the first to consider when it comes to headlining shows in and out of Africa seeing as they’re the only Nigerian music group left, they’re actual dancers with very technical choreographic routines of a contemporary nature (the likes of Usher and Chris Brown) and they’ve stayed winning since the year 2000!
Before owning his vocal talent, Flavour was first a multi-instrumentalist and on professional levels. He is impeccably skilled at beating drums, stringing on a guitar and striking keys on a piano. He complements his act with a local dance craft which entails rigorous wriggling of the waist in a very sensually seducing manner. His genre of music – high life, is one that requires an unusual effort to keep a crowd’s attention on lock down and we’re yet to fault him in this regard because his musical background had him well-prepared for this. Flavour hails from an Igbo-speaking tribe which derives one of it’s cultural beauties from live music, already known to be a special joy and reverie of it’s people. He graduated from being a local church drummer at 13 to lending his vocals as backup singer for a variety of musicians and now, an Africa-wide celebrated artiste that he has become. Flavour relishes his on-stage moments, belting out his Igbo language hits and with his raw vocals. He does so with an admirable poise and a high sense of flair. He remains one of such singers who hasn’t caved to the ills of lip-synching or performing shabbily to a backing track. Even, I highly doubt that we’d ever catch him red-handed in the act. Oh, you remember he won the award for Best Live Act at MTV’s MAMA last year? ‘Nuff said!
3. TIMI DAKOLO
Timi Dakolo is one act whose artistry is yet to be seconded by any. Even better, the soul and R&B genre continues to do him perfect justice every time he gets up on a mic to belt out notes from his belly embodiment. I dare say, if you’ve never seen or heard Timi perform, then you perhaps can’t know what the true experience of a live performance feels like. From facial expressions to gesticulations, stage emotion… and that voice, Timi Dakolo is IT! He is the whole package. Unlike some artistes who can’t perform their studio enhanced materials, every song ever written and recorded by him, he has the wherewithal to light up a stage with it. And he does it to relish, giving all of himself while enjoying himself at the same time. One time, I saw him perform while he was under the weather and regardless of the fact that he was having a bad voice day, one wouldn’t have noticed at all with how much vocal effort he put in to delivering the classic piece that eventually moved everyone to tears. Talk of vocal emotion.
2. YEMI ALADE
Could we ever have a list like this without a Yemi Alade on it? Not a chance in hell! Incase y’all didn’t know, the one feat that brought Ms Alade to deserving success was winning the maiden edition of Peak talent hunt where she had to perform her way to the top. Even at that, she didn’t start counting her fame until after she had done volumes of shows for free, seizing every opportunity to hone and perfect her craft. Guess it paid off because she’s the hottest chic on the block as of now. On-stage, Yemi unleashes herself with an unusual vim and vigour. And boy does she love to sing! When she opens up her vocal power, the melodies hit hard leaving chills on the skin. She condiments her act with a playful, witty persona that breaks any form of disjoint between her and the listening audience. She is just fun to watch as equally a sight to behold; her outfits often times inspired by colour mash-ups and pan-african-ness, come in beautiful sophistication. These feats in addition to her undeniable skill, has seen her heating up stages in more countries than the African continent can boast of. We don’t call her the King of Queens for nothing. She’s a slayer!
What a man can do, Omawumi has proven by clinching the number one spot that a woman can do better. In her wonder woman frenzy and armed with a collection of hits from her lasso of truth, the megbele queen has continued to wow audiences with her show-stopping performances. No doubt, she is quite the singer and actress too but there’s always that extra special something she brings that gives her the edge over all others. First off, all that electrifying flavour you get to hear in her voice on all her records, she brings the treaty to you LIVE! The vocal pitches that run into the zenith of her impressive range, dramatic riffs that swivel into marathons, the scats, vocal fries and growls, then she spices that with interludes of comedic monologues not forgetting her energetic dance routines of a cultural nature. Her performer profile is one of the strongest and it is unconnected with the fact that she has maintained an image – one which she rocks her signature boojee ‘fro while donning modish pieces with a touch of African. Omawumi is a performer per excellence who serves herself in appropriate doses to her audience… and whether it be a soulful rendition or a fast-paced dance track, she’s sure to keep it 100.
Can you think of anyone else better deserving of this spot than him? I guessed so too. Infact, this list would have been heavily unfair if it didn’t have find him fit for a worthy mention. Before this present time of artistes collaborating with international big weights, Femi Kuti had long featured top shots like Common, Mos Def, D’Angelo, Macy Gray amongst others. The nature of his vocal artistry married with his technical intelligence of musical instruments like the saxophone, trumpet and keyboard had seen him launch and run a successful recording/performing career till date. He started out internationally the year 1988 and has since been a regular feature at exclusive gigs and Western tours in various continents of the world. His style of music is easily relatable and has remained the only genre to break the barriers of age, race and culture as pioneered by his late father, the legendary Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, of whom expatriates and visiting tourists paid top dollar to watch perform. Femi continues in promoting a lasting legacy and his works have been recognized on a global scale by nominations via the Grammy platform, the last four years.