You may have seen her on some local TV stations doing what female Gospel artists do, praising God, swaying to the beat, her hands raised above her head in a pleading gesture, a head covering elegant crowning a smiling face and generally giving the impression of being at peace with its creator and its fellows.
Singing vigorously with backing strings and percussion instruments often against the backdrop of lush greenery, blooming flowers, or a cascading waterfall, such settings recreate and depict a kind of bliss evoking paradise. And for many of these Gospel artists, making heaven is a fait accompli, a fait accompli.
But right now, Oba Bamike Adeyemi aka OBA is here on earth and will be coordinating a project that no one has ever seen her perform on screen before. The project, she told THEWILL, is “50-10-50 on” for a 10-week run from October. “Enable 50-10-50” is not randomly named. Bamike turns 50 on December 10, which is the number of weeks the program will run. The last 50 is the number of young people to be mentored in music, songwriting, singing lessons, choreography and poetry.
The 50-10-50 activate project “is a restitution project aimed at empowering young creative minds passionate about serving God and energizing humanity with their unique and authentic creative brilliance,” Bamike told the newspaper via WhatsApp la last week. “This is an opportunity for me to transfer, liberate and empower others for greatness and impact.”
As it stands, OBA is very well prepared for her role as a mentor in the upcoming 50-10-50 project. A self-described “multi-influenced expressionist”, she is also a motivating and inspiring teacher who was trained by the John Maxwell team, one of the world’s foremost leadership groups. Then there is an already existing structure Bamike OBA Mentoring Academy – an online learning center which she runs. A Certified Relationship/Marriage Coach from the Institute of Marriage and Family Affairs USA, an alumnus of Daystar Executive Leadership Academy, Bamike is more than certain to see her pet project through from start to finish.
“It’s an equipment project to train the next generation of creative artists,” explains the musician, “so that they are well grounded in using their creative genius for impact and social change.” When asked if the time allotted to the program – a mere 10 weeks – might not be enough to turn her future mentees into professionals, she disagreed, insisting that it was not an “intensive program”. Additionally, there will be a number of guest speakers and experts (in music, relationships, leadership and emotional intelligence) to help train the youngsters during this time.
The 50 participants, according to Bamike, “will undergo intensive training in guitar playing, songwriting and mastery of poetry/eulogy”. She describes herself as a “mistress of communication,” a designation, a title that will come in handy when the project kicks off this month.
Quite in demand in churches and concerts these days, OBA started her musical career in 2002 with her very first album “Simply Divine” featuring tracks such as “Ilu mi Nigeria” translated as Nigeria is my Home. Another, “AKODA,” what she calls her “second-year project,” followed 10 years later, making one wonder why her muse lingered so long. But she came to visit soon enough, leading OBA to compose and release a song called “Were Were” in 2012. Her latest effort, she says, “will be a collaboration with Nathaniel Bassey and featuring Chandler Moore.” The same trio performed it for the first time in 2020 and the promotional music video for this collaboration is on Youtube.
Not having the privilege of watching the concerts of his life, we turned to Youtube for one of his recordings. We found AKODA, a six-minute exhortative performance of praise and worship in Yoruba and English. Give Bamike some credit for his singing prowess, demeanor, and sense of style. Rather than outdoors, OBA staged the performance indoors in a clinically clean studio-like room – with drummers, guitarists, keyboardists and back-up vocalists all dressed to match whoever found in the highlife bands of old.
In this particular video, Bamike herself is wearing a light green colored dress with puffy lace sleeves and very simple earrings and not the garish bracelets favored by much younger female artists in other genres. There is a certain maturity in AKODA that one can easily identify with a singer of her age. Bamike was 40 years old when AKODA was released in 2012.
The Golden Jubilee is a turning point in most people’s lives, a time to reflect on what happened before, what to do now, plans and expectations for the future. Like most ambitious people his age, Bamike has his hands full of professional aspirations and private expectations. Focusing on shaping the lives of young people through music, singing and singing lessons is quite a commendable project. After all, some Nigerian celebrities cause a stir in public on such occasions – posh parties in expensive hotels with a phalanx of entertainment journalists in tow, a high-profile birthday getaway in Dubai or any high-end hotel range in a European capital and the obligatory shopping at sumptuous boutiques for that rare Balenciaga dress or that clever Manolo Blahnik pump.
For Bamike, it is not. No unforgettable pool parties at Lekki or VGC, no hedonistic displays at indoor event centers at Ikeja or Surulere. Of course, there will be gifts and big wishes for turning 50. But Bamike would spend much of his time, as we now know, educating young people eager to learn more about music.
The 50-10-50 project is not only about teaching young people the art of singing, dancing or even composing music. On the day in question, Bamike will offer a concert to launch and celebrate the new album entitled Reemergence. The implication is not lost on demanding people and fans. The last time anyone from her fans saw her with a new one was eight years ago. With this concert and album launch, Bamike seems to be telling her fans that, yes, she is back and will surely get better.