By Chris Onuoha
The Nigeria version of United Nations Educa-tional Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO World International Jazz Festival 2018 will hold on Sunday April 29 at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Lagos, and leading the array of stars in this jazz carnival will be the famous Grammy award winning jazz maestro, Gerald Albright.
In what seems like a new dimension from the usual norm, the organisers, Universal Music Nigeria in collaboration with Runway Jazz decided to take a leap further in an experimental mixed genre fiesta with the introduction of Masterclass sessions to underscore UNESCO’s mandate.
Unveiling the line-up of activities in Lagos, the convener, Runway Jazz, Afolabi Oke, alongside the Managing Director, Universal Music Sub-Saharan, Sipho Dlamini, expressed optimism that this year’s jazz festival which will be dedicated to the memory of an African pride, famous South African Jazz exponent, Hugh Ramapolo Masekela, will be a worthwhile experience. Oke revealed that Runway Jazz festival in its 3rd year, is hugely supported by the Lagos State Government, wife of Nigeria’s Vice-President, Dolapo Osinbajo and in mutual partnership with UNESCO regional office, Abuja.
Oke said: “Runway Jazz started two years ago. We are in partnership with Universal Music and UNESCO whose mandate is basically helping to promote global peace, unity and dialogue through entertainment and cultural exchange programmes. This is done concurrently in over 196 countries across the globe. In Africa, South Africa has taken the lead though, but with top-notch procedures, we are hoping to get there as well. This has brought huge investment and tourism opportunities to South Africa which we want to replicate in Nigeria and West Africa at large. Last year, it was the biggest jazz event that was supported by Lagos State Government and this year, we have the singular honour to host the Vice-President’s wife, Dolapo Osinbajo, whose foundation, Step Up Initiative, will add colours to the event.”
Speaking further, he stressed: “This year’s event will be very different. It is a two-day event that will feature many programmes in accordance with the UNESCO mandate. There will be a music and entertainment Masterclass to be anchored by Universal Music. In it, they will be sharing ideas about the mandate of universal music in Nigeria which is hinged on helping the entertainment industry in sub-saharan region. There will also be a fashion Masterclass. In this session, Step Up Initiative boss, Dolapo Osinbajo will engage the participants about the fashion industry and how Nigerians can tap into the resources to make young people self-employed.
“This year, we have a unique jazz artist, Gerald Albright who will also be joining us at the Masterclass. He was in Nigeria about five years ago and is excited to come back to celebrate with us. Other acts will include Sweet Sound as the host band, Tiwa Savage and other R&B singers as alternative genre expose, Heavy wind, and Beyond Vocal, a South African powerful vocal quintet under the Universal Music discovery . Stage dance performance by the Society for Performing Arts in Nigeria, SPAN, with fashion runways by AvantGarde will also feature.
“In the fashion Masterclass, notable names like Oke Maduewesi, MD, Zaron Cosmetics; Opeyemi Oke, MD, Studio 54; and Ibidunni Ighodalo, MD, AvantGarde, will engage participants and it will be headed by Her Excellency, Dolapo Osinbajo. Also, in the musical Masterclass, Gerald Albright will lead, alongside Sipho Dlamini, Kayode Ajayi and Tiwa Savage.”
Oke also said there are expectations that next year’s edition will be held in Lagos to be made possible by the Lagos State Governor’s support. According to him, the partnership is coming at the right time being that as a country, Nigeria is hoping to bid to host the global jazz festival by 2020.
Universal Music Sub-Saharan MD, Sipho Dlamini said it is a partnership they are excited about. “We are very excited to partner the runway jazz event in Nigeria termed ‘the flagship of jazz festival in Africa.’ Runway jazz show is one unique opportunity for local musicians to have exposure. Universal music is the number one entertainment in the world that is not only a record label but with various activities. We also do live events. Under live, we conceptualise, produce and partner with entities and companies to put up shows like this one, music concerts, conferences and related events. So this is why we are involved in the runway jazz.”