Veteran musician, Dayo Kujore, aka Wonder Dayo Kujore, speaks about the highlights of his career and other issues
How did you develop an interest in music?
I have always been a church boy; my parents were clerics of the African Church. From a young age, I joined the choir and that’s how I learnt how to play the guitar, piano and other instruments. It was through that process I fell in love with music. Back then, juju musicians used to come to my village, Igbore Robiyan, Abeokuta, Ogun State, to perform at special events. They spotted the talent in me and I started following them out to perform.
Since you fell in love with music in church, why didn’t you become a gospel artiste?
In those days, there was no difference between gospel and juju music. If you listen to the music of juju musicians such as Ebenezer Obey and Sunny Ade, you would notice that they often extolled God in their songs and told moral stories. Juju is gospel music.
Did your parents support your music career from the onset?
No, they did not. In those days, there was no parent that wanted their children to go into music. I had another job but I loved music more. I’m an engineer and I was trained at the Soba Technical School, Lagos.
How would you describe your experience when you first got into the music industry?
I really enjoyed it. We were not in it for the money then; we were motivated by passion. I joined several bands and I was playing the guitar for them. I wasn’t singing then. The first musician I worked with was Chief Composer Jossy Olu Oguntade; he had a band in my hometown and he was the first person I followed to Lagos. It was while working with him that people got to know about my talents and they used to invite me to several shows. I also played with MD Jaiyesinmi and Prince Adekunle. Together with some youths, we also established a band called the Superstars. After that, I formed my own band.
What’s the story behind the name, Wonder Dayo Kujore?
I was about 10 years old when I started playing the guitar and there weren’t lots of guitarists at that time. I was also very dexterous and energetic whenever I played and people were always amazed, particularly because of my age. Before long, they started calling me ‘wonder boy’ and that was how I came about the name.
Who were your mentors when you first joined the industry?
As a young musician, I had people that I admired but I never went to anybody to be mentored. I always loved to listen to Ebenezer Obey’s music and I also attended his performances.
What were the highlights of your time with General Prince Adekunle’s band?
I learnt how to maintain a band and how to properly arrange music. All the band members were friends and there was no jealousy among us because we played different instruments; music is about teamwork. Whenever we travelled out of Nigeria, we stayed in the same place. We had a really cordial relationship.
These days, artistes rarely take tutelage from established artistes before starting their career. What do you think about that?
Artistes no longer learn how to play instruments. These days, beats are made with computers. Back then, we played real instruments and I think that’s the major difference between us.
What challenges did you encounter when you started your band?
It was quite arduous getting instruments because we couldn’t easily rent them in those days. You had to have your own instruments. In those days, you also had to train your band members in playing different instruments.
When was the breakthrough moment in your career?
That was when I released the album, Super Jet. I had released other albums before then but it was the most successful.
How do you compose your songs?
It is a gift from God. I always write down the lyrics and arrange the songs myself. I also follow the examples of older artistes. I love to sing about contemporary issues that people can relate with, as well as words of advice and praise to God.
Some artistes drink and smoke before going on stage. How do you prepare before your performances?
When I started as a musician, I wasn’t even old enough to drink alcohol and I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I believe that if you drink before you go on stage, you wouldn’t be able to perform well when the effect of the alcohol wears off. I’m not saying that I don’t drink but I don’t get intoxicated before performing.
Of all your records, which are your favourites?
They are the works of my hand and I love them all. However, I’m always happy whenever I listen to Super Jet.
When was the first time you travelled out of Nigeria to do music and how would you describe the experience?
I had travelled with other bands when I was playing instruments for them. On my own, the first foreign trip I made was to London and I was very well received.
Why did musicians of your generation often abuse one another with songs?
It is the fans that misinterpret our songs. Most times, we just sing freely and give advice but people often misinterpret it to mean that we are abusing specific people. Meanwhile, we eat from the same plate with the people they accuse us of abusing. There was no fight between any of us.
You mean there was no rivalry between you and Sir Shina Peters?
Not at all; I have never fought with Shina Peters. When we read the news that we were fighting, we laughed over it together. That’s the same way we hear reports that certain politicians are fighting, only for us to see them smiling afterwards. Meanwhile, many people would have died for their sake. I recall that I once went to perform at the prestigious Island Club and the late Chief Awolowo and Chief Akintola wined and dined together. Meanwhile, there were reports that the duo did not see eye-to-eye. A former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, was also in Akure, Ondo State, recently and he interacted freely with members of an opposition party.
|SIR SHINA PETERS|
It is also believed that musicians often instigate such a crisis in order to become more popular and sell records. Have you ever done that?
I have never done that. We often use proverbs in our songs and those anecdotes may be seen as indirect insults to certain people; even though that may not have been our intention.
Even our stage names can be misconstrued to be attacks at colleagues. For example, if an artiste calls himself general and another one goes by the name, commander; people may say that the commander is trying to claim superiority over the former.
How would you describe your relationship with female fans?
I love women a lot. I was born by a woman; I have daughters and our female fans always support us. However, I never passed my boundary though I’m not saying I’m clean but God has given me the power to control my urges.
It was once reported that you impregnated your secretary. Isn’t that true?
I have never had a female secretary. I even rarely go to the office because I have someone who handles the place. Even if I want to have an affair, it wouldn’t be with my secretary; I don’t do things like that.
What are some of the important lessons you’ve learnt over the years?
I have learnt different lessons. There have been times that we went for performances and returned without a dime. However, I am happy that I wasn’t consumed by the struggles.
What are some of your unforgettable experiences as a musician?
There are many of them. On one occasion, I was booked for an event and I arrived there a day before. However, my band members got there very late when a lot of the party guests had done. By the time we started to perform, the organisers and guests were already infuriated so they beat us up. Our vehicles were also destroyed.
How would you compare the industry then and now?
Piracy is really causing a lot of harm, and sometimes, I wonder if going to the studio is still worth it. These days, even before an album is officially released, you would see it being sold on the streets.
How was your last album, Esan, received by the public?
The album was successful. People launched it for me in different good ways. I reaped a lot of benefits from the album.
How often do you perform now?
People really like my songs and I have never lacked shows. I thank God that I’m still relevant. Even as I am talking with you, I am well booked. My fans have never deserted me.
What factors have helped you to remain relevant till now?
I take my job seriously and I make sure I give my audience good performances whenever I’m on stage. I have also been blessed with a good band. I also constantly rebrand myself so that I wouldn’t be predictable. I have also been in good health. All artistes should endeavour to stand out and they should be prayerful.
It is believed that artistes no longer pass moral messages in their songs. What’s your take on that?
I would advise them to sing more songs that pass messages. However, times have changed and the artistes are only giving the people what they want to hear. There are some slangs that artistes use now that can only be understood by their age mates and their fans like them that way.
Which of these artistes would you like to collaborate with?
There is none of them I cannot work with if they approach me.
Some people feel juju music is fast fading away. Do you agree?
People may think that way but at most high profile parties and events in the country, it is juju music that is played. Most of the songs that are released today are inspired by juju. A young artiste, Small Doctor, sampled my song and people urged me to get him arrested but I told them to leave him. Juju music cannot fade away. However, we must also note that there are different trends at different times. At a time, Awilo Logomba was the most popular artiste in the country, even though he wasn’t even a Nigerian.
Do you think that veterans are celebrated in the Nigerian music industry?
My fans have never left me. We (veterans) are the ones that usually perform at top events in the country. We have never been cast aside. We are the ones that praise sing people and they appreciate it. The new generation of artistes cannot do that.
Do you mentor any young artistes?
Yes, I do. There are different associations in the juju music industry and I often give talks and advice when I’m called upon.
One of your sons is a musician. Did you support his career from the onset?
Yes, I did. I always attend his shows and I even perform with him on stage at times. When I launched my last album, he was the first person to perform.
What can you recall of your childhood?
I was born in Robiyan village and I had an interesting childhood. I used to go to the farm with my parents and also hawk goods before going to school. I was the last born so I enjoyed special treatment from my parents.
Which schools did you attend?
For my elementary education, I attended the African Church Primary School. I went to African Church Secondary School for my post-elementary education; both schools were in Igbore, Robiyan, Abeokuta, Ogun State. From there, I went to Soba Technical School, Ojuelegba, Lagos, where I trained as an engineer.
How do you unwind?
I like to swim and play musical instruments. I also surf the Internet. I have social media accounts and I interact with my fans through those platforms.
How do you like to dress?
I like to dress in native attire, and whenever the need arises, I could go corporate.