In this second part of our feature on the Wale Olomu Memorial Awards (WOMA), we delve deeper into the inspiring journeys and remarkable achievements of the award recipients. These distinguished individuals, recognised for their exceptional contributions and impact, illuminate the essence of the awards’ legacy.
Beyond mere accolades, their stories are testaments to resilience, innovation, and community service. Alongside this, the Round Table Panel Discussion unfolds, offering a platform for profound dialogue and thought leadership. Here, expert practitioners and industry veterans converge, exchanging insights and forging ideas that echo the event’s commitment to excellence, collaboration, and societal advancement with special recourse to the entertainment industry.
DJ VINNIE – Special Recognition Award (SRA)
In the early 90s, Nigeria, and particularly Lagos, witnessed the launch of various radio stations all centered around creating music Presentations in the mix of quality populist programs. Most of these stations captured the ‘night club’s’ trends by engaging professional DJs. So it was that the likes of DJ Vinnie stepped out.
At age 17, DJ Vinnie (born Michael Adebayo) had chosen his career path and by 18, he had made his impact on the radio scene. Before the end of the 1990s, he had turned professional, draining influences from the legendary DJ Funk Master and the notable Red Alert.
DJ Vinnie transformed his on-air performances into nightclub thrills, creating unique musical mixes that gave deserved prominence to the latest Nigerian releases.
He has, over time, enjoyed seasoned appearances on Ray Power 100.5FM, Lagos; Rhythm 93.7FM, Lagos; Radio Continental 102.3FM, Lagos; Rainbow 94.1FM, Lagos; Star 101.5FM, Lagos; Rhythm 93.7FM, Port Harcourt; Y FM 99.2, South Africa; Kiza Lounge, Dubai: Enish Lounge, Dubai…in close to three decades of deep symbiotic romance with rhythms and mixes.
DJ Vinnie received the Special Recognition Award (SRA) in Disc Jockeying.
OLADIRAN O. OLAJOYEGBE – Special Recognition Award (SRA)
Diran Olajoyegbe, a distinguished alumnus of St. Gregory’s College, Ikoyi, stands as a revered figure known for his quick-thinking problem-solving acumen. With a foundation in electrical engineering from Ogun State Polytechnic, he later burgeoned into an award-winning professional audio engineer. For over 35 years, Diran has cultivated a wealth of experience managing, organising, and supporting a myriad of projects and events both nationally and internationally within the entertainment industry.
As a seasoned mentor and entrepreneur, he owns and operates three companies specialising in media technology, media productions, and events promotions. Diran’s journey in the industry is steeped in family legacy, drawing inspiration from his father, a pioneer in the Nigerian music scene who promoted legends like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti under his record label ‘JOFABRO.’
Building on the legacy of his parents, Diran has pioneered innovation and technology in arts and talent management. His extensive portfolio includes collaborations with renowned artists such as Majek Fashek, KSA, Onyeka, and, notably, his wife, the gospel singer, Olufunmi.
Besides his multifaceted contributions to the entertainment industry, Diran serves as an advisor and contributor to reforms and governance organisations in Nigeria. His indelible mark is not only evident in his leadership roles but also in his extensive credits as a music producer and engineer, collaborating with iconic artists spanning various genres, while managing or working out of pivotal studios like Jofabro (from 1985), Miditone (1987), Reelmix (1996) and EkoReelmix (1999).
It is also noteworthy that Olajoyegbe was instrumental in the establishment of Reelmix in 1996; while his Reelmix partnered with the management of Eko FM to found, and manage the EkoReelmix sophisticated sound studio, in 1999. Diran Olajoyegbe’s enduring commitment and trailblazing spirit continue to shape and elevate the Nigerian cultural and creative landscape.
Diran Olajoyegbe received the Special Recognition Award (SRA) in Studio Management. Receiving the award, Olajoyegbe thanked the organisers for searching for somebody as “hidden” as he is: “I am very excited to receive this award.”
MANNY EKE – Special Recognition Award (SRA)
Manny Eke, widely known as Music Chef, has entrenched himself as Nigeria’s preeminent family music sensation since the early ’90s, becoming a household name. His collaborations with top artists underscore his influence on the music scene, including in Orits Williki’s “Heart of Stone” and Edmund Spice’s “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight.” The turn of the millennium marked a seismic shift as Music Chef’s debut single video, “Anyinala,” dominated SABC and Channel O screens, concurrently topping Prime Time Africa and Minaj Jukebox charts. His vocal prowess, resonating with the strength of African international stars like Youssou N’Dour and Salif Keita, left an indelible mark.
Beyond the spotlight, Music Chef’s studio and stage collaborations with luminaries such as Alex O, Sonny Okosuns, Mike Okri, and Lagbaja showcased a hitherto undiscovered vocal dexterity. As the Chief Executive Officer of Hypa-hits Audio-visuals, he not only helms a modern music studio in Ikeja, Lagos but also boasts multiple jingle awards, attesting to his versatile musical talents.
Manny Eke’s accolades include winning the 1992 Fame Music Award for Best Upcoming Artiste, a recognition later achieved by the voice diva Yinka Davies. Beyond music, his culinary prowess earned him the moniker “Music Chef,” and he clinched victory in the celebrity edition of the Golden Penny Pasta Cook Show in 2006. Currently serving as the Chair of CIG MUSIC SECTOR, Manny Eke continues to shape Nigeria’s musical landscape with his multifaceted talents and enduring impact.
Manny Eke received the Special Recognition Award (SRA) in Session Backup Vocalisation.
A thrilled Manny Eke, in receiving the award, said that the late Wale Olomu meant so much to him because he made him what he is today. His words: “He gave me the title of ‘King of Rap’ back then, and that has been keeping me on my toes most of the time. I’m excited to be part of this.”
FEMI OJETUNDE – Special Recognition Award (SRA)
Femi Ojetunde, a multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning music luminary, stands as the creative force behind the Afromonic Music genre and the dynamic CEO of Femdouble Entertainment Group. With a prolific career spanning over three decades, Ojetunde has left an indelible mark on the global entertainment landscape, producing over 2000 songs across diverse genres such as Rap/Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, Afrobeats, and Indigenous African Orchestration.
Rising to prominence in Nigeria, his ingenuity and musical prowess attracted icons like King Sunny Ade, TuFace, and Onyeka Onwenu. Notably, at age 20, he became the youngest recipient of Nigeria’s prestigious “Fame Music Awards’ Producer of the Year” – for 1991. Ojetunde’s journey continued in the United States, mentored by Leila Steinberg and introduced to legendary producer Quincy Jones. His enduring impact is further immortalized in the “Tupac Shakur: Wake Me When I’m Free” museum experience at L.A. Live Entertainment Complex.
Femi Ojetunde’s impactful contributions to screen composition showcase a diverse portfolio spanning movies, television series, documentaries, and commercials. Notable works include the Bootycall Soundtrack for Jive Records, Trippin starring Guy Torry, and Dead Tone (7EVENTY 5IVE) featuring Brian Hooks. His involvement in movies like All Between Us, starring Tiffany Haddish, and Beasts of No Nation with Idris Elba for Netflix, further illustrates his versatility.
In television, Ojetunde has left his mark on popular series such as STAR on FOX, The Shield on CBS/FX, and The Family Business: Season 3 on BET+. His work extends to documentaries, with notable contributions to Thug Angel: The Life of an Outlaw, and Letter to the President, both with executive producer Quincy Jones. His musical prowess is evident in commercial projects for Victoria’s Secret, NARS, and Project Pepsi, among others, showcasing his enduring impact on the entertainment industry globally.
Femi Ojetunde received the Special Recognition Award (SRA) in Music Production.
Speaking from his base in the United States of America, Femi Ojetunde, whose younger sister, Tolu Agbe-Davies received the award on his behalf, said the award is very dear to him because of what the late Wale Olomu represented when he was alive. He said: “I promised to keep the flag of Nigeria flying from my base and in every part of the world.”
QUEEN SALAWA ABENI – Lifetime Achievement Award (LAA)
Salawatu Ibiwunmi Abeni, born on May 5, 1961, in Lagos, Nigeria, is a singer, composer, and cultural icon renowned for her contributions to the Afrocentric music scene. We celebrate the humongous achievements of the Waka superstar, who bestrides the African musicdom across five decades having released over 60 studio albums. Embarking upon her musical journey barely before her teenage years, Salawa Abeni’s professional debut in December 1975 quickly led to her first album, ‘In Memoriam’, released in May 1976. Despite facing exploitation and adversity, her resilience remained unshaken. Salawa recorded many albums for Leader Records and later for Kollington Records after her marriage to the popular Fuji musician, Kollington Ayinla, in 1986.
Although she has been traveling abroad to entertain fans and to engage in concerts, her debut at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s South Bank – July 2001 – marked the start of a musical journey that would continue to separate her from others.
That 2001 concert elicited overwhelming warmth from a predominantly non-Nigerian audience and prompted calls for an international push for Salawa Abeni, positioning her as a traditional music gem from Nigeria.
We credit Salawa Abeni for modernising the traditional Yoruba music genre known as Waka, infusing it with elements of Fuji, Juju, and Yoruba folk songs. Her distinctive style, blending cultural influences with contemporary rhythms, garnered widespread appeal, transcending ethnic and religious boundaries. In recognition of her significant impact on Nigerian music and culture, the Alaafin of Oyo Kingdom, the late Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, crowned her the Queen of Waka in 1992.
As Salawa Abeni continues an extraordinary musical odyssey, her enduring passion for music and cultural representation serves as an inspiration. The mother, wife, performer, and pathfinder stand as an indomitable force in Nigeria’s rich musical history.
Waka Queen, Alhaja Ibiwunmi Salawa Abeni bags the WOMA Lifetime Achievement Award (in indigenous music sustenance). The Waka crooner was physically present to receive her award and expressed appreciation to the organisers for a job well done and for considering her worthy of being honored while alive. She also electrified the entire studio with her melodious voice as she went into her archive to sing one of her popular songs, ‘Gentle Lady.’
Round Table Discussion
In the roundtable discussion segment, two awardees, and music technocrats, Femi Ojetunde and Kayode Samuel gave very educative and informative views on the theme of ‘Business of Music: Artiste Vs Label relations, and Other Matters’.
The WOMA moments are taking place within the studios of TopRadio 90.9 FM, the host station of ‘The Vintage Talkshow’ anchored by the coordinator of the WOMA Steering Committee, Femi Akintunde-Johnson (FAJ). The grand finale comes up on Saturday 23rd December where additional recipients will be thusly honored, and another scintillating episode of industry-related discourse aired in the round table panel discussion.
Text: Franklyn Frantos Snr. with additional information from the WOMA Media Committee
Images: WOMA Steering Committee/Google Images
© Feferity Media Group
London UK, 2023