Why I’m lenient with those stealing my songs –Ebenezer Obey
Entertainment - • By Adenike Rashidat Hammed
Veteran musician, Ebenezer Obey, has noted that he knows the right steps to take according to law to deal with people who infringe on his copyright, but he has chosen to be lenient.
The iconic singer, who spoke with Saturday Beats at the sidelines of a press conference to intimate journalists about the ‘Ariya Eko’ music festival set for later in the month, stated that all an artiste had to do before ‘sampling’ his intellectual property was to inform him. He said, “I know the right thing to do but I have been so lenient. Some of them don’t take permission but some do. Simi took permission (before using my song) and she showed appreciation.
“However, I believe I have to sow. I just tell the artistes that if the song turns out to be successful, they should come back to me. I believe that no musician on earth can claim to be great without singing other people’s songs. I recorded the song, ‘Eni ri nkan he’ (which was originally done by a musician called Ambassador) without telling the owner of the song. That was because I didn’t have sufficient knowledge then. My version of the song then turned out to be more popular than the original one. So, I always remember what Ambassador did for me. I know I can take the legal route but I decided not to do that.”
Obey also maintained that he was actively involved in imparting quality music-making knowledge to the younger generation. He added, “The Ebenezer Obey Music Foundation is sitting on four hectares of land in Abeokuta (the Ogun State capital). We have a sound engineering department. We are also affiliated with a polytechnic in Ogun State.”
Sharing his thoughts on the young generation of Nigerian artistes, Obey said, “They are doing what they can. They are communicating according to their age. Their generation understands what they are singing about even though I don’t. I don’t like to criticise them but I ask questions. If there is any slang I don’t understand, I ask about it.”
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Evergreen Musical Company and organiser of the music festival, Bimbo Esho, also said the proceeds of the event would be used to set up the Evergreen Music Hall of Fame, into which Obey and other notable musicians would be inducted. She stated, “The hall of fame will serve as a museum space where the story of every Nigerian musician all over the world will be told in pictures, relics, and audio-visual materials. We put this together so that we can think inwards. A lot of songs are released every day but they don’t stand the test of time. Obey is one of the most prolific musicians in Nigerian history and he should be celebrated.
“Sir Shina Peters will also be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Other artistes that will perform at the event include Tee Mac, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Jimi Solanke, Obesere, Yinka Davies, Ara (female drummer), Buga, Ibitayo Jeje, Segun Blessing, Omileyan, Vector, Sola Vibrator, Ibe, Dollarz, Wasiu Oseni Ejire, Eko Brass Band, among others. The festival is about celebrating Lagos and our heritage.”