By Ferdinand Ekechukwu
London-based Nigerian musician Diya Ojo expressed his utmost respect for one of the living legends of the Nigerian music industry and former president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Admiral Dele Abiodun. Diya, whose Africa Rhythms Band is synonymous with the music brand juju Jelenke, moved from Nigeria to the UK in 1995.
He rose to prominence as the rave keyboardist in the early ’90s, performing in album studio sessions for music veterans including Ultimate’s K1, Sir Shina Peters, the late IK Dairo, General Kollington. Ayinla and Evangelist (Leader) Ebenezer Obey, among others, while being a bona fide member of Admiral Dele Abiodun’s Top Hitters’ Band, a prequel to his move.
âAdmiral Dele Abiodun has given me opportunities to excel and that is why he remains the best boss I have ever known in my life. He was the one who put me in the spotlight by allowing me to play for various artists who needed my services at the time, âhe said.
Nominated in two categories: Best Juju Artist in the World and Best Diaspora Musician, for the current year by Yomofa Global Awards, Diya recently released his highly anticipated single, Oja L’aye meaning The World is a Marketplace. Produced by Doxolie and released on the stable of Diya Ojo Music Limited, Oja L’aye is an eight-minute lyrical composition with a rhythmic flow, spiced with scintillating percussion and melodious instrumentation, reminiscent of Diya’s prowess as a burning artist.
Diya, once again, deftly displays his talent as he lays out the issues prevalent in the world, while summarizing the COVID-19 pandemic and offering cautionary advice to the public.
Diya, who was born in Omo Ofe, Ilesha, Osun State, began his musical career in church. He was introduced to music when he joined the Apostolic Church of Christ, Iperindo, the Osun State Choir in 1972.
He then joined the choir of Christ Apostolic Church, Oke Imole, Agbeni, Ibadan in 1979, where his talent for playing the church organ was discovered. He then studied music at the Ibadan Chamber Music School, founded by Professor Wole AdÃ©tiran, Head of the Music Department at the Ibadan Polytechnic School, between 1983 and 1988; and the Royal Schools of Music in London. His first album, Igba Otun, (New Dawn), was released on the Sony Music label, Nigeria in 1994.
âMy type of music is modern juju music that combines the beats of other music, including juju, highlife, fuji, blues, etc.,â he says. Diya’s other previous albums include Millennium Buzz and Mind the Gap (1999); Sound of Time, (2003) and The Lord on my Side, (2006). He has won several awards including the Afro Hollywood Recognition Award (1999); Best performer of Juju, (2006); British Indigenous Artist of the Year, (2006); Best Diaspora Artist of the Decade – presented by Nigerian Music Awards, (NMA), in Abuja in 2007; Special Recognition Award by Zafaa Global Awards in 2009 and Maestro Supremo De La Musica Juju Award, in the United States of America, in 2014.
He established the Diya Ojo Music Elite Klub (DOME Klub) in 2000 and became the first president of Nigerian Performing Artists (UK) in 2008. He has an impressive resume, having performed on global concert stages including the coveted Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London concert.