When you listen to his songs, you feel the flavour of other genres of music and he does that effortlessly. Michael Oluwanisola Akiode better known as Fola Best is not your run off the mill, or straight jacket kind of artiste. He is rather a standout singer who has what it takes to entertain a multitude of music lovers with diverse music preferences. Without any shred of doubt, the Ogun State-born artiste is really out to make a big statement in the music industry and he is already itching to go all the way. And that is obviously part of what informed his recently concluded artiste management arrangement with Different Stroke Media to leverage the media space for proper projection of his musical talent. In this interview with SAHEED OJUBANIRE, Fola Best whose mum hailed from Urhobo ethnic group in Delta State revealed why he left his banking job for music, his motivation, relationship with other artistes, future targets and lots more. Read on please:
For the purpose of this interview, can we have your full name?
My name is Michael Oluwanisola Akiode popularly known as Fola Best.
You are an artiste, can you tell us the kind of music you sing?
I sing Gospel Juju.
Why the choice of Gospel Juju out of other genres of music?
Well, initially, I started with pure Gospel music but later, we have to do stuffs with Juju because we discovered that people started calling us for programmes and events and when we played Gospel there, people started asking for Juju, so we decided to start playing Juju for them as well. This is so because we want them to enjoy our music thoroughly and all that. So, that is how we started combining Gospel with Juju.
Before we go further, can you tell us exactly when you started your music career?
Well, I started in the year 2002 as a career, if I’m not mistaking. But before then, you know, we all started in a Church— we sing in the Church, we sing at concerts, and all that— but later we went fully into the industry and we sing Gospel there and later we ventured into Juju too.
Were you into any kind of job before you ventured into music as a career?
Yes, I was in a bank. I was in a banking job and I worked with Commercial Bank Credit Lyonnais, CBCL.It is a French bank. So, I worked with their branch in Nigeria and I worked with them for upwards of 3 years.
Okay, let’s come back to music. You said you sing Gospel Juju but when we had to the opportunity of listening to an album from you, there is a flavour of Fuji in your song. Why did you infuse that?
Well, it is a gift and also part of the dynamism we have brought into our music. It is our way of praising God and in fact, apart from the Fuji music flavour you are talking about, I can also use Apala to sing when the demand comes for that, or any other patern of music. It is a gift from God which I am very grateful for. So any where I go, if people say we want Gospel Fuji, I would sing for them, if they say they want Apala, I would sing it for them, and that is the way it is.
So far, would you say music has been rewarding for you?
Yes, it has. Because when I was in the banking job, you know, they would set target for you and all that. And you have to meet up with the target. But then, I decided to do music because this is what I like as a gift from God, and the words of God made us understand that your gift will pave way for you, you’ll dine with Kings and Governors, you know, all over the world. So, since I started music, I have met a lot of people, I have met Kings, I have dined with them. I have dined with Governors and very important personalities in the country. And more importantly, I commune with God. Any time I sing, there is this strong feel I have, and also when I worship Him with my songs. In fact, when ever I do that I feel like I’m no longer on this earth again, like I have left this realm, you know. It is really what you do and you enjoy doing and God likes you doing it, and people around you like you doing it. I think that is an achievement on its own apart from other material things we have gained from music and entertainment. And I think I am fulfilled, to a great extent.
What is your relationship like with other artistes, especially those singing Juju?
Yea, we have a cordial relationship to the extent that when I have 2 to 3 shows, I ask some of them to go for one and all that. When I do that, I tell the client that see, the person is coming for your event because I already have one show for the same time and I don’t want to be selfish about it. So, I know a couple of artistes that we are in good terms and I don’t think I have any issue with any artiste on the other hand. We are always together. I think I like all of them and at times we do collabo together on the stage. At times,we meet at concerts and we relate very cordially.
Can you tell us some of those you have done collabo with on the stage before?
Yea, I have done with Dare Melody. I have done with Lanre Teriba, Debo Ojubuyi, and quite a couple of them. I have not done with Mega ’99 but we have had things to do together in the past but not a collabo.
Who is your role model in the industry?
Evangelist Ebenezer Obey. I love Obey’s music so much. And I thread that path too.
So, you can play Miliki music like he does too…
Yes, I can.
Have you met Evangelist Ebenezer Obey before?
Yes, I have. He even came for my Church’s anniversary sometime ago when I invited him as a preacher and he sang there too. I was the chairman of the Anniversary Committee then. And there have been other occassions we have been together like that.
Are you working on any album at the moment?
Yes, I already have one titled: “ Ire Owuro Mi” (My Early Blessing) and I’m doing another one now titled: “Soro Mi Dayo” (Change My Story To Glory). We are still in the studio for that.
Where are you from?
I am from Ogun State. My dad is Ogun and my mum is Delta, Urhobo.
So, you are half Ogun, half Delta…
(General laughter) Yes.
And you can speak Urhobo…?
Yes, I can speak Urhobo very well.
That makes you an home boy there too…?
Yea, I’m a home boy in Delta too. In fact, my younger sister just contested election into the Nigerian Senate from there. Her name is Onome Nwakata Oluwadare. She got married to a Yoruba guy and you know, she is based in Delta and she now had to contest for the Senate. In fact, she contested against the current Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege from another party. So, she is fully into politics there.
Where do you see yourself with music in the next couple of years?
Haaa, I see myself big, great, and I’m this kind of person looking forward to brighter future. And I know that with God, all things are possible. I know I’m good at what I do and the future is there for me to explore. We would get there one day.
Finally, what is your message for the fans of Fola Best out there?
First of all, I want to thank them for being my friends and fans. I thank them for loving my music, for encouraging me because if they don’t encourage me, there is nothing I can do. There is an adage in Yoruba that says: “Won o fe e nilu, onda’rin. Ti oba da’rin, talo fe ba e gbe?” (Your kinsmen don’t want you amidst them and you are attempting to start a song if you sing the song, who would back up for you?) You see, when I sing, my fans would say Fola Best is good, Fola Best is good, and that is how I get encouraged to do more. And I hope and pray that they will encourage me the more to do better because music is life. If you sing inspirational music and people listen to it, even when they are feeling bad, they begin to have a renewed hope and that is what my kind of music is all about. So, I really appreciate my fans because I know they will always be there for me.