Rayge Smith is Nigeria’s fast-rising artist from Benue State. In this interview, he spoke on his new single “Ebor”, his sojourn into the music industry and how he has fared so far.
Who is Rayge Smith?
My real name is Alegwu Stephen Smith. I wsa born in Ogobia Ugboju under Otukpo LGA Area of Benue State, Nigeria.
Tell us a bit about your background
Well, I am the last of 26 children. My parents are Mrs Patricia Ogolekwu and late ( RSM) Ogolekwu Alegwu A.K.A (IJACHI). I spent my early life in Benue State but made the move to Lagos to pursue my music career.
How did you get into music?
When I was 10 years old, I got interested in music, dance, comedy and football. But it was music that caught my attention more than anything else. I had these dreams of becoming a big musician. But sadly, growing up in a community lacking in basic infrastructure and amenities did not make it easy to achieve my dream.
So how did you overcome these challenges?
In the beginning, I was part of a group of young people who first introduced and organized choreographed dance to Ugboju community under Otukpo LGA, Benue State. In our community, people took culture and tradition very seriously. We had a lot of support from the people in our community and for me, this was the motivation to pursue music.
Eventually, I had to make the move to Lagos as there were not a lot of opportunities in my hometown to explore music, the kind that I would have preferred. Mainly, there were not places to record music at good quality and for me, I didn’t think it made sense of investing in making music if the quality was not good. So…Lagos happened.
What motivates your music?
For me, I see music as a way to change my situation and influence the lives of people positively. Living in Benue State was tough…I come from a big family and it was not always easy making ends meet, even with my mother working as hard as she did.
I wanted to make sure I could contribute to my family through music so this was a big motivation for me. I believe that there is enough opportunity to be successful in music, enough to take care of anything needing attention.
What has been your biggest achievement?
It’s probably getting signed by Mavlon Consults. Being fresh in the industry can be tough but I got lucky maybe to have a sponsor offer me a record deal just as I started out as an independent artist was an amazing thing for me.
That aside, I think the response I got after the release of “Ebor” is a big achievement. “Ebor” is a single I released a while ago. I did the song in Idoma, my language, and Ebor means peace. You see I was really worried about the violence and unrest in Benue State and it hurt me that young people like me were mainly responsible for it.
I felt that I could use my talent to share a message of peace and maybe these young people will reconsider their position and stop the violence. The song got a lot of attention and I am really glad it did.
Are there any artists that influenced your music?
I love Wizkid, Dontslac…yeah. Their music pushes me to write and produce even better music. Competition is stiff so I still try to stay original and make my own sound. Even if I may feed off some inspiration from other artists.
Do you play any instruments?
I play the Konga drum.
What is it about your music that makes you different?
My sound is inspirational. I call it spiritual because my most anticipated song always comes in my dreams. That’s why my versatility cannot be compromised.
What are you working on right now?
Well, I just released the music video for Ebor. It’s available on YouTube. I had the opportunity to work with Femi Branch, Adam Ameh and Lucy Ameh. The video was shot by Avalon Okpe in Benue State and it looks awesome. For me, it was a great experience because I got the chance to reconnect with my people at home and even featured dancers from the area.
I am working on other stuff for 2021 too so you have to wait and see.
What are your plans for the future?
Making more music…and winning awards for sure. I am hoping to win a Grammy Award one day. Yes, I know a lot of people have the same dream but I want one, and I will work hard to get mine.