Around 6:30 am on May 12 at Apata, Ibadan, a man cradled a small girl between him and the Okada man, as the commercial motorbike sped towards Omi Adio, albeit in a haste to beat the 8am curfew that had been imposed on Oyo state due to the local government election coming up later that day. The only giveaway that he had won N2m about 2 hours earlier at the 2018 edition of the Goldberg-sponsored Ariya Repete music competition in the Fuji category was the Goldberg mosaic on the front of his T-shirt and “Martins” on the back.
The event brought to an end a process that started some 2 months earlier in Abeokuta, with the 2018 Ariya Repete Roundtable, a yearly intellectual discourse that focuses solely on Yoruba music, setting the tone for the talent hunt, which is now in its third edition, in Fuji, Juju music and drum categories.
Held on March 6, at the Park-Inn by Radisson, Abeokuta, this year’s roundtable, themed “Evolution of Yoruba Traditional music and the influence on modern Nigerian pop culture”, created a platform for stakeholders to dissect the Yoruba music and how it has impacted and continues to impact on the modern pop culture of Nigerians.
The keynote speaker at this year’s conference in Abeokuta was Dr. Kola Adesina, Head, Department of Mass Communication of the Crescent University, Abeokuta, while an eminent group of panelists including Sir Shina Peter, Mr. Lekan Babalola, Mr. Muyiwa Osinaike, Prof. Olawole Fadipe, Wasiu Ayinde – K1 De Ultimate, Taye Currency, Jawon, Clement Ige, Wole Sorunke (MC Murphy), and Hakeem Adenekan, complemented the team.
Later on in the month, Ariya Repete Traditional Music and Drums Talent Hunt proper started with selection process held in eight cities – Sango Ota, Ado Ekiti, Akure, Lagos, Ilesha, Ilorin, Ibadan and Oyo – where several contestants came to slug it out for a place in the quarterfinals of the competition. In the end, 52 winners emerged out of about 5000 initial contestants.
The artistes and groups had in the first and second round of auditions impressed the judges with exhibition of talents and craftsmanship. The judges were then able to make the final selection of artistes, who qualified for the quarterfinal. The successful contestants then entered the Ariya Repete Academy where they went through mentorship and grooming from experienced musicians and managers.
At the Ariya Academy in Ibadan, they were trained on Yoruba music instruments, Fuji and Juju music by some prominent Juju and Fuji musicians to help hone their musical skills. The winners then proceeded to the quarterfinals held at Midas Arena, Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital where they slugged it out for spots.
In the end, 32 contestants progressed to the semi final stage held on May 4. The sand pitch of the National Stadium in Surulere went agog, as ace actor, Odunlade Adekola announced the 16 finalists selected by the judges after a rigorous screening process which lasted till the early hours of Saturday, May 5th, 2018.
The ancient city of Ibadan came alive on the night Friday, May 11, for the grand finale held at Trans Amusement Park with six contestants in Fuji category namely Ayomide Ode Omotola, Saheed Akangbe, Abiodun Saheed Oloto, Sulaimon Ajibola Destiny, Mohammed Adewale and Asafa Olushola. Another four, Wale Crown, Bukola Ahmed, Ayodele Olatunji (a.k.a Femi Bright) and Ayegbayo Oluwaseun qualified from the Juju music category.
They were joined in the final by the drum groups; Ifesowapo Cultural Group, Sakuba Cultural Group, Oludare Cultural Group, Igba Iwase African Entertainment Cultural Group and Eniafede Dance Group.
It was a blend of fun and serious business as all the finalists treated the audience twice to rich renditions of their severally rehearsed and composed songs. Their voices rented the night and the venue resonated with the thumping of their drums and dance steps as the whole of Ibadan stood still for the performances of all the 16 budding contestants.
Before the winners were announced, Martins, in an interview, had expressed confidence about winning the competition, stating that his trust was in God and he hoped to win. He added that if indeed he wins, he will then be able to build a career from there.
“Tonight, I put my trust in God and I know He will do it,” he had said.
“I am going to win. From here on tonight, I know I am going to become Goldberg’s Ambassador by God’s grace. And when that happens, I will establish my musical career with the prize money of N2 million. I will be eternally grateful to Nigeria Breweries if that happens.”
All sixteen finalists delivered very impressive performances making the selection of the eventual winners even tougher for the Judges. However in the end, three contestants, who stood out (Ashafa Olushola Martins, Ayodele Olatunji, and Oludare Cultural Group in their performances), were crowned winners.
Ashafa Olushola Martins got N2 million prize for emerging tops in the Fuji category, while Ayodele Olatunji a.k.a. Femi Bright also went home with N2 million cash prize after winning the Juju category.
“After seeing the performance of others, I knew I just had to trust in God to win. They were superb. I’m overwhelmed winning the N2m, ” said Femi Bright, after prize presentation, a look of grateful excitement in his eyes.
Oludare Cultural Group, led by pregnant Osogbo-based Olubunmi Sadiq, came first in the drumming category and won N1 million cash prize, while consolation prizes ranging from N1m to N250,000.00 were given to First and second runner ups in all the three categories.
Most of the winners said they will plough the money back into their trade, which is singing and drumming by getting more instruments to better their singing careers.
The second runner-up in the Juju category, Wale Crown, from Ijebu Ode, Ogun State noted that what he hopes to do with the money is confidential, but he will not fail to commend Nigeria Breweries for coming up with such a wonderful competition that has come to give so many young up and coming musicians hope for the future.
“I am grateful to God for making me a winner that is going home with N1 million today,” he said.
“And to Goldberg, I really duff my hat for you. This is because Nigeria Breweries is the only company I have ever seen in all my life that wants to elevate young up and coming musicians. They are so unique. As we know, there are so many talented musicians out there but nobody is really ready to help them. I appreciate Goldberg for organizing this Ariya Repete show.”