HOW do I explain this to you, Adesuwa begins. “If you listen to jazz music, it does something to you that other genre of music can’t do. Even Fela played a form of jazz and you can always feel it. People who are passionate about jazz understand that spirit that comes from jazz.”
How did she get started on this path? She said it began some 16 years ago, as she started out, playing the piano and gradually fell in love with jazz much more due to the influence of her dad, who was a great jazz lover and enthusiast.
“I listen to lots of Fela and Nat King Cole”, she said, revealing her role models. “You might think they are different but the basics remain there. Fela plays with passion and that comes with jazz. It’s just like Soul music because it comes from deep inside your soul.”
That explains her return to her much-loved genre of music after a five years break to do the normal collared job.
“I wasn’t happy with the 9-5 job and I had to return to jazz music, which remains my big love,” she submitted.
Expectedly, there would be challenges from the African perspective for a woman playing jazz music. Rather than being intimidated, she was rather propelled to continue.
“It might look odd because I’ve not seen another woman do it here,”, the gifted female jazzist replied. “But I’m used to it now and people are beginning to accept me. I guess if you are good at what you do, you would survive all odds.
“Other challenges include keeping and maintaining a band. It’s not easy, because there’s no steady income from it because jazz music has not really been accepted here”, Adesuwa lamented.
“Without enough performances, it’s not easy to support a band. I just hope we can get enough sponsors to support what we’re doing.
“There are lots of young guys with passion and talent for jazz music, but they’re discouraged. Unlike the hip hop guys who do one show and get paid millions of naira. That’s why many young guys want to do hip hop.”
According to her, she is determined to ensure that her beloved genre gets more converts and of course, gets stronger. Beginning from next year, she plans to set up a foundation to encourage kids from ages of six to seven years and groom them to play musical instruments and to possibly kick-start a career in music.
“I hope to visit public schools because kids in private schools are already privileged.” She explains further on her plans. “It’s more about getting kids from poor background and giving them the opportunity to play with musical instruments.”
Having cut her musical teeth playing with Mike Aremu on her return to Nigeria, Adesuwa’s passion and love for jazz music grew by the day.
“I listen to classical music and old school sounds from the likes of George Benson, Earth, Wind and Fire, Onyeka Onwenu, Nat King Cole, Earl Klugh and other instrumentalists.”
Even though she claims her love for jazz music overshadows the fortune that lies within it, she is set to make a benchmark for other female singers.
“I hope to become the first globally accepted Nigerian female jazz artiste. I also have the responsibility to change the ways we write songs in this country. Most songs no longer make sense and the lyrics are so bad,” she declared.
Indeed, the benchmark includes encouraging female artistes in Nigeria. According to her, female artistes face lots of challenges in bid for survival.
“What we seem to have now is a celebration of sex symbols. It’s no longer about your talents. I once heard of a lady who was stopped from performing at an event because she was considered not sexy,” Adesuwa regrets.
And with work almost completed on her debut album, she acknowledges the ever-present dangers of pirates, but remains unshaken and would rather focus more on the kind of music kids listen to.