Alhaji Musiliu Haruna Ishola has carved a niche for himself in the music industry as an Apala music star. He has been in music for over 40 years adding value to his dad’s Apala music. He is not the only one singing Apala music but he is easily one of the best-known singers of that genre of music.
What many don’t know is that Alhaji Musiliu Haruna Ishola did not start his music career as a performing artiste. Till his father died, he was for many years his driver. He was always the one who drove his father to the gigs where the late Apala music icon performed. The closest he got to music was to help his late father record in an exercise book anytime he came up with lyrics of songs that come to him and much later he will remind his late dad about it.
It was not until when his dad passed on and they suddenly realised that their late dad had been booked for a show prior to his death. And they were faced with either having to pay back the money or for one of his siblings to go stand-in for their late dad.
It was a big issue and Musiliu decided to accompany one his brothers who sings a little Apala music to the event. At the event, some of the people who know Musiliu began to taunt him, chiding him, as to why he couldn’t just imitate his late father and sing the way he used to sing his Apala. Musiliu accepted the offer, grabbed the microphone and thrilled guests. That was how Musiliu began to sing like his dad, the month he died. The rest his history.
In this interview with City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, Musiliu Haruna Ishola, talks about the story of his life.
Tell us a bit about how you have been coping with your kind of music, Apala. What has been happening to you? Have you been releasing music albums? What is new with Musiliu Haruna Ishola?
It’s been good. We give God the glory. He has blessed us. We’ve been performing at shows, like now we are at Ooni’s palace to perform on Aje Day. The Ooni invited us to perform. I have been here for the past 2 days.
And I have been releasing music albums, not in CDs like before, but online on Youtube.
Yes, I have been releasing albums but I no longer sell it out as CDs, like we used to do before years back when we used to release CDs and records. We now sell it online.
If we continue to do it the way we used to do it selling it out as CDs, we won’t get our money back. We just sell, but no money was coming in, so we changed our strategy to beat Pirates. Like we all know, the Pirates have killed the music industry. But with online, we are getting something back in return. That is why we no longer release records in CDs to the public. But you can now download my music online.
If you look back now how many albums have you released?
It is up to 25 that I have done.
Since you did Soyoyo, which was a big success, how many have you done since then?
I have done Ori, Authentic, I have done so many that I don’t remember the titles.
You perform almost every day, back to back. How do you cope with your heavy schedule?
To God be the Glory. We human beings don’t know how to arrange things only God can do that perfectly. God helps us to arrange things because we ourselves don’t know how things will turn out. Let’s keep thanking God because many of us started this race together. All of us sing the same Apala music, most of them couldn’t cope and had to drop off. We kept at it hoping for the best. We did not know where it will end before God decided to bless us. The lesson there is that whatever kind of job any human being wants to do, perseverance is key. You must be able to persevere.
For some time now we have noticed that you have transformed the old Apala music that you inherited from your dad. You have added a lot to it to make it more danceable and appealing. What are the specific things you added to it?
The first thing is that if you remember our late father, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister sang one song. He said in it, who can tell me the full meaning of Fuji sound? He said Afro, Juju, Apala & Co. If Fuji had remained the same way that our fathers were singing it, the young ones who are just coming up won’t be able to sing it. Me too, I decided that this old Apala music, let us add something to it, something new and innovative. Let me also say that I didn’t add anything new to Apala.
It was Baba Haruna Ishola, my late father that began to add new flavour to it, before he passed on. Before he died, he did a record which he called Apala Disco. Baba added Jazz to Apala. I now decided that since Baba has added Jazz to it let me also add keyboard, saxophone, guitar, and a few other instruments to it. That was what I did and I now realise that it went well with it. That was why I sang this song that we should move the way the world is going. I sang the song Baye ba se nyi ki a ma ba won yi, opon Apala ti sun finally o ti kuro ni t’aa ti jo. I am moving with the times.
So what is the latest thing you have added to your music to make it sweet?
I can’t say this or that. Its my fans that can say. I can say my music has become sweet. The way it works is this. When we sing and people dance to it and they say it is sweet. That is when we can know its sweet. When we are singing it we can’t know whether it is sweet or not.
When we compose it or turn it into album, we would not know it is sweet, until our fans begin to listen to it and make comments. The fans are the ones who will now say the album or song is good. That is how we usually know that our song is good or not. It is not that we know how to do it. It all belongs to God.
There are so many songs that your father sang then that you have not made use of. Why have you slowed down on using Baba’s music?
I have not slowed down. Let me tell you today that all the songs I sing and all my music belong to my father. They are all Baba’s music. All the songs I sing, totally, belong to Baba. I have not done one single composition. All I do from time to time is to change names, from the name Baba put, to the name I put in, to replace it.
If you look at Soyoyo song, it was Baba that first sang it. If you look at Fireblast that I sang, Baba sang it. The song ina tiran efe ti sibi, ebere ke mujo ina ran was sung by baba. Most records that I have done are all babas songs, like Ori eni la wure, ti mo baji lo wuro ma fi owo gba ori mu which is the current one that I have just done, that is making waves right now was done by Baba. It is baba’s song. All I do to his music is to remove old rhythm and I put new rhythm: That is why people think I am singing new songs.
Wherever you sing now, what you sing is new fast-paced Apala music with all the new slangs, like Gbe Body ee. You have added the current dance steps and beats. Why is that so?
Its for us to remain current. We have said that in one of our songs that we change with the new things in vogue. We have to add all that to it because of these young people. We have to blend old and new songs. We want both old and new to enjoy our Apala music. The old people now carry their body. Gbe body eee. What is reigning in town now is Apala Gbe Body. So people must dance to it.