- Recounts His 20 Yrs In Music
- Reveals Plan For 20th Anniversary Concert On OCT. 21
Talented singer, Akin Tofowomo is in a happy mood right now. This is because he is set to celebrate his 20th year in music with a mega concert titled SHUGA COATED: Through the Times scheduled to hold at the Eko Convention Centre on 21st October 2018. It is planned to be an evergreen and contemporary Live Music Concert.
He has been into music well before 1998, that was the year he started music professionally with Shuga Band. And over the last 20 years, the band has evolved to be the band of choice for many celebrity weddings, birthdays and gigs. How did Akin turn what started as his hobby into a lifetime career which has brought him fame and stardom? Last week, he told City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE his success story, plus how his late dad who was a retired judge wanted him to go and read Law like him but he insisted on taking up a career in music. His mum also didn’t like the rebellious streak in Akin. Despite their opposition and hostility to his decision, Akin stuck to his guns and not only went ahead to take up singing but went to Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts to study music professionally.
Akin is one of the creative minds who has not allowed his physical challenge he suffered as a result of Polio to rob him of his first love music. Last April he released an album, I can Walk, which encouraged all those who are physically challenged not to give up. According to Akin, life is about challenges, challenges will always come and no challenges are insurmountable. I can walk gives the strength that is required at that challenging time. It is a song of hope dedicated to polio survivors and everyone who has been scarred, marred or shaken in the travails of life. It was produced and co-written by the legendary Cobhams Asuquo. The proceeds generated from this song went towards Rotary’s total eradication of Polio.
How has the journey been so far been in the last 20 years? “I am just grateful that in the last 2 decades I have been able to look at music from different perspectives,” he says. “From very well, down there, not knowing anything, to where I am today, with the knowledge that I have, with all the accolades and I just look back and I say, wow. So, its been 20 years just like that. It is much more than 20 years, but professionally Shuga Band has been 20 years. Professionally, I have been in music for close to 25 years now. Shuga Band is 2 decades old. I have seen, I am here, but I won’t say I have conquered yet. There is still a lot to do and a lot to offer the music industry”. Looking back at your love for music at that time, what was music like to you, that made you take it up as a career?
“A lot of things have changed. At that time, it was about going into music without the expectations of making anything. I didn’t look at music as something to make anything from. I saw it as a hobby, I was not a lifer, but now I am a lifer. Music is my life. Music is everything about me. Then, I was looking at music with one eye, asking the question” will this be able to pay my bills? Coming from my pedigree and where I was coming from, how would the world react to it? Already, I was on the warpath with my parents because of the music path I had chosen. It was like, look, I will have to make something here, out of this, something tangible to be able to prove that, yes, I chose this path and this is what I achieved with it. At that point, coming through all the initial experiences I had with Royal Garden, Pintos days, Wood House, the Green Lion, to this period now, where we don’t normally do all the club gigs any longer, its now more about parties, and all that, its been an awesome journey.” A lot of young people have also passed through him and they’ve gone ahead to set up their own bands. How does that make him feel? “I feel good about that,” he says. “Anybody who knows me, knows I am not someone who stands in the way of anybody’s ambition. I also realise that this is one of the reasons I am still standing today. I am a free giver. I give of the knowledge that I have. A lot of the times I tell them what I have is scientific, it means that I can teach it. Even though we are 20 today, we still give respect to all those who have been there before us. So, I am always very happy to see our offshoots. A good tree will always bear fruits”.
How does he see the revolution of Shuga Band from the little band that used to sing only foreign songs to the complete band it is today that sings a lot of contemporary songs? “It’s been a great evolution,” he says. “Starting out, because of where I was coming from, I wasn’t privy to some kind of music. Not that I didn’t use to hear them. No. But I didn’t know I could ever engage those kinds of music. I then realised that nice as we were doing, there was still something missing. We were not singing some other songs they would have loved to hear. Some people will say Shuga, you guys are doing well ooo, we really like you, we would have liked to call you, but you don’t do this, you don’t do that. You don’t call peoples names, I said ok. We would change. So, we started co-opting. We started bringing in people to sing those songs that we were not singing, so as to create those appeal as well. And then we started having problems with those people because they started feeling like, oh without them, we won’t have the business, or that they were the ones who were making us have the business and that without them we were nowhere. So, what I did was to start learning how to sing in Yoruba and singing those other songs that our fans or people wanted to hear. I started listening to a lot of high life, King Sunny Ade, Obey’s Songs, K1’s songs, just name it. We added that. So we started having that new appeal and people started knowing that with Shuga Band you have a crossover of everything that you need of contemporary music. So we had to encounter a whole of people in this last 20 years. There were those who felt we won’t get this far. We have had to deal with a lot of disloyal people. We have encountered all sorts of people. And of course we have had the loyal ones who are still here, 17 to 18 years down the line and they are still standing with us.