If you have ever been able to tell what greatness is, then you would know that producer extraordinaire Wole Oni is an epitome. With over 3 decades to his production credit, Wole Oni remains a trusted name for music production in Nigeria, especially amongst the Gospel artistes, producing timeless songs such as Folake Umosen’s “Kosobabire”, Midnight Crew’s “Igwe”, Tosin Martins’ “Olo Mi”, Lara George’s “Ijoba Orun”, amongst others. Not forgetting the long list of commercials, theme songs and soundtracks.
Born in Ondo State, he picked up musical instrument at the tender age of 7, then, went on to replace his father as the church organist at St. Andrew Anglican Church, Akure. Although he studied Computer Science, his unquenchable passion for music made him choose music as a profession eventually. Last year, his concert ABC Premuim Jazz assembled some of the best of R&B, Soul and Jazz in a musical night of elegance and class.
Haven achieved all these great strides, Wole Oni is ready to add another feather to his hat with the release of his first single “Cover me Lord”. The song according to Wole Oni, although is being released now, has been with him since childhood days, nevertheless, he believes the release is timely. The multiple award winning producer sat with SelahAfrik’s Alex Amos and unveiled all there is to know about the forthcoming single in this chat.
Wole Oni: For everything there is a time and season. At times when there is no reason to, I don’t make a move and considering the environmental issues and all that is happening around the world, of course we need some divine protection. So I had this song that has always been with me for over two decades and it has blessed me immensely in troubled times, I thought about it and said if I also bless the world with this message that I have had for over two decades now, it will also make a lot of sense so coming to release a single now is not because I didn’t put it to mind initially but it is just as a result of the times we are now to help create that connectivity between people and the divine authority that will help them declare, I’m here, giving myself to you, take over my life and cover me”
SelahAfrik: Why the title “Cover me Lord”?
Wole Oni: Covering does not necessarily have to mean you are faced with a ‘war-zone situation’, it may be as a result of financial need… you know, different things that people go through in life that one needs intervention for. I’m releasing this as a first from the series of my collection which will be my giving back to the public
SelahAfrik: Are you releasing an album?
Wole Oni: Yes I am releasing an album but I will like to start with this first; as the Lord as laid it in my heart.
SelahAfrik: So between now and when do you think the album will be ready?
Wole Oni: Errmm… within a year, although I’m a perfectionist and sometimes I don’t get satisfied easily especially when it comes to my own thing. I’m just the type of person that does the very best till there is absolutely nothing else to be done.
SelahAfrik: How long did it take to get this work ready?
Wole Oni: I have been working on this one for the past six months. Although the resources are there; but because of the type of person I am, I had to bring in different sounds and instruments, like the acoustic piano, acoustic bass, flute, electric guitar, a hundred-man choir, 4 lead singers and we used about 8 different languages. As a matter of fact, I have over 150 people on this song.
SelahAfrik: Why the variety in languages?
Wole Oni: I wanted to make a global song
SelahAfrik: What’s the Inspiration behind the song?
Wole Oni: Who doesn’t need God’s covering? (laughs), coming from that angle I’m representing the fact that I have had an encounter with this song coming from secondary school even when I didn’t really have the indepth knowledge into what I was saying by cover me Lord. It kept ringing in my heart especially when I find myself in trouble; I just say that little prayer asking God to cover me and God just pampers me. I find myself emerging from those muddy situations back then so I’m giving this out to anyone who may be in similar situation today, it doesn’t cost anything, just say the little prayer ‘cover me Lord’, it’s giving God the authority to occupy your space.
SelahAfrik: Should we be expecting the video?
Wole Oni: I have never thought about the video for the song but now that you mentioned, I think it will be interesting to look into that but then, it has to be like a story because although I wrote the song, I had someone who did the narration in the person of Nigerian American actress Brycee Adiah Bassey, she was at my concert, I took note of her voice from there and invited her to work with me.
SelahAfrik: Where was the song recorded?
Wole Oni: I recorded in Lagos, UK, Ireland and America
SelahAfrik: Looking at your career from where you started, will you say you’ve gotten to the point where you can breathe a sigh of relief?
Wole Oni: Trust me, I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging but I really thank God for the journey so far. I have been producing now for over 3 decades so if I’ve come from the where there was no computer to this new age where electronic music is the in-thing and still remain relevant, I think I’ve done well for myself being able to combine the acoustic and digital music perfectly. I have produced a lot of people, even under my label, won awards and artistes who I have produced have moved on to get their career stable and are earning a livelihood from it… All these from just playing the piano and playing it right (laughs).
SelahAfrik: You’ve won several awards, which of your awards do you value most?
Wole Oni: All the awards are spectacular because they all have different appeal to them but some of the ones I like most include the African Awards, I also like the award I got in the UK Best Producer in Africa at the PGM Awards , I also like the Crystal Awards, it’s one of the most beautiful awards sitting on my shelve …other awards include KORA and the rest.
Some producers, due to the digital technology in sound production will boast of how they were able to produce a song in one hour or 30minutes, judging from the era you emerged from, will you say it is mediocrity?
Wole Oni: Well, good music requires good time, don’t because of the digital technology in music imbibe mediocrity ideologies such as producing a half baked work and dishing that out to the public, like I said; I have been producing my song ‘Cover me Lord’ for over 6 months, I could have done it in one day but the thing about professionalism is that when you listen again, the mood of the song will change… music is not static, when you listen in different times, you will hear different things so for you to conclude on your end result is not something you do in 30 minutes. You can see how the A-List stars all around the world are spending time and sleeping over in the studio so music is not one-day or 30-minute job.
SelahAfrik: With the long list of artistes you have produced, you must be very busy
Wole Oni: Extremely busy (laughs)
SelahAfrik: So how do you create time for family?
Wole Oni: I don’t work on Sundays. As much as I like to work with a lot of people, I also put in checks and balances so that what is coming out will be true to my brand. I’m not just producing because of money or time, of course we all need the money but the quality also goes a long way, I mean, when someone gives you feedback about his work and he is happy about what you have done for him because the work has stood the test of time in the market not the type of job that can only stay a few months and then it is over. I don’t do such productions so I work and on Sundays or weekends, I give that to family and rest… I mean, who am I? (Laughs), even God rested (laughs out loud).
SelahAfrik: What do you do for leisure?
Wole Oni: I like to see new movies, travel and do some tourism.
SelahAfrik: Where is your favourite holiday spot?
Wole Oni: Bahamas… and Las Vegas (laughs).
SelahAfrik: A lot of people seem to agree with SelahAfrik last year, judging by our poll that you are a very fashionable person, can you define your style?
Wole Oni: I give Kudos to SelahAfrik for giving me the 2014 Most Fashionable Male Personality; I’ll define my style as sweet, clean and classy. The truth is fashion and most things for me come from the inside, I like to satisfy myself regardless of whether I am stepping on toes or impressing anybody. I just like to look good, you know the saying dress the way you want to be address is true. Sometimes I go for event where I am not going to be paid and I shop for a cloth of 200k and above just to look good, it may sound ridiculous but we must represent God if we say we are God’s children who is the all in all. It doesn’t mean you should go steal or overdo, if you don’t have the ability, just go with what you have and be clean, good looking and let your style speak volume.
SelahAfrik: What advice will you give to the ones looking up to Wole Oni?
Wole Oni: I tell people to be like Jesus, Wole Oni is alright but I’m still human. Also a dream without hardwork, you cannot get to achieve anything. So on the road to achievement is hardwork, discipline and perseverance. If you believe in all of these things, then you can talk about being like ‘Wole Oni’ as you said anyway. Also, you need to embrace God because He is the one who can propel and navigate you faster because sometimes it’s not even about how good but the grace of God and once He grants you that grace, everything will be effortless so first thing is to hold on to God, regardless of your level of spirituality. I see a lot of young people today with the get-rich-quick syndrome, it doesn’t happen like that. Before I got my first pay, I had worked in studio, serving a lot of people for many years but the service today is not like before. People don’t want to serve; they just want to be like the successful personality they believe in but not to serve. Therefore, my advice is be hardworking, don’t be lazy, believe God, end of story.
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