This piece is a reflection of 2019, the top Afrobeats LIVE & Award events, and the Power Player Personalities behind them.
When people said "Happy New Year" and wished themselves the best for 2020 on January 1st, not many could have imagined that a few months later, the world would lockdown in response to a pandemic.
The COVID-19 quickly turned the hopes of many into dissipating dreams, earning itself the nightmarish repute it's known for today. While health was the primary concern of all, our social lives soon suffered –with it, came ripple effects. The entertainment industry, via live events, was put on hold. Nobody could gather anyways, not under the restrictions placed by governments around the world. What this means is that for three months –since March 2020 when we've begun grappling with the effects of the pandemic– they've sparsely been shows. Months before however, in 2019, notable events which gave to its visitors a great deal of entertainment had been organized, a triumphant note for fans who stepped into intricately-built experiences meant to complement personal listen.
Afro Nation's Obi Asika and Adesegun Adeosun Jr aka "Smade" top the list for music promoters with the most impactful LIVE shows in the Afrobeat Power Players List 2019.
See the complete list of Afrobeats "LIVE and AWARDS" 2019
There are two tables to this piece namely - the Live Table, and the Award Table:
On the LIVE Table of the Afrobeats Power Player 2019
Adesegun Adeosun Jr. and Obi Asika – Afro Nation
In August 2019, the BBC reported that for the year's edition of Afro Nation, which was held in Portugal, about 20,000 were in attendance.
Afro Nation, organized by Adesegun Adeosun Jr. (popularly known as SMADE) and his business partner Obi Asika, has become one of the biggest black festivals in the world. Artists such as Davido, Burna Boy, Buju Banton, J Hus, Stefflon Don, and Octavian have graced its stage. With the success of its past editions in Ghana and Portugal, SMADE has earned a reputation as a strategist per excellence and, were it not for the COVID-19 situation, would have delivered yet another memorable show in Portugal in 2020. “We have expanded our line-up, and can now confirm the biggest Afrobeats line-up of all time for Afro Nation Portugal 2021," a released statement read, which included a freshly published list of performing artists including Davido, Wande Coal, Sauti Sol, Beenie Man, Kizz Daniel, and many more.
Paul Okoye – One Africa Music Fest
Next on the Afrobeats Power Players 2019 Live events is the great Paul Okoye, the CEO of Upfront and Personal. He's also the convener of the One Africa Music Fest, a gathering of the biggest music stars in Africa.
Having held concerts around the world, in cities like London, Houston, and New York, in November 2019, the show was successfully organized by Paul Okoye and his team in Dubai, featuring performances from Nigerian superstars Wizkid, Tekno, Teni, amongst others; Diamond Platnumz, Harmonize and Eddy Kenzo were also part of a lineup that lit up the City of Gold.
Moyo Shomade, Bizzle Osikoya, Asa Asika, and Tobi Mohammed – Block Party Series
The Block Party Series are hangouts organized across the country, usually on the last Sunday of every month. Since its inception, it has grown to become a thriving event that showcases urban youth culture, and also serves a need for creatives to network.
It is organized by Moyo Shomade, Bizzle Osikoya, Asa Asika, and Tobi Mohammed aka 'Alhaji Popping' who, over the years, have secured partnerships with brands like MTV Base and Jameson to further their vision for the series. In 2019, Zlatan Ibile, DRB Lasgidi, and Ajebutter 22 were among the artists who performed at the Mainland Block Party in May.
Chinedu Okeke and Oriteme Banigo – Gidi Culture Festival
Lagos is the biggest entertainment hub in Nigeria, and it's only fitting that a lot of events are set up to channel its spirit. The Gidi Culture Festival (popularly known as Gidifest, and has been dubbed the Nigerian Coachella) was co-founded by Chinedu Okeke and Oriteme Banigo. Created in response to youthful agitation for the development of culture around youth and entertainment, Gidifest has become a prominent name whenever entertainment festivals in Africa are mentioned.
Its 2019 concert (the sixth edition) was held at the Landmark Beach Front in Victoria Island, Lagos. The festival featured performances from Patoranking, Niniola, Teni, Moonchild, Sanelly, DJ Neptune, Wande Coal, DJ Cuppy, Sarz, Zlatan, Blaqbonez, L.A.X, and several others stars. About 10,000 people are estimated to have attended the festival.
Deola and Dare Art Alade – LivespotX Festival
The Cardi B–headlined festival which held on the 7th of December, 2019 had the country in a chokehold: Her name was everywhere, one seemed only a click away from the artist waxing poetic about Nigeria and being the adored celebrity who'd grace the Eko Atlantic City stage in Lagos some hours later.
Organized by Deola and Dare Art Alade, the Livespot Festival which was held in Lagos and Accra, featured some of the best of both West African cities, performances coming from acts like Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, Guru, Fireboy DML, and Kweku Smoke, among others. With the media buzz that trailed every Cardi B move, it's definitely one of the more frenzied times of 2019, and the organizers had hit a masterstroke bringing her to Africa.
Osagie Osarenz - The Basement Gig
Osagie was and is still regarded as one of Nigeria’s finest talent managers. Having started with Kel as far back as 2009, Osagie was very instrumental to the rise of Wizkid in the early years of his career as manager and mentor.
During this time, Osagie teamed up with Moyo Shomade and Tosyn Bucknor (of blessed memory) to create #OneMicNaija, a bi-monthly music showcase for emerging artistes in Nigeria, which later became the hangout spot for the biggest names in the music game at the time, shouting for talents and catching up. The show featured the likes of Yung L, Shaydee, Spellz and many more.
The success of #OneMicNaija, which was rested after a couple of years, actually spurred Osagie to launch another kind in a bid to continue the discovery of major music talents in Nigeria.
In 2016, Osagie, through her newly found Agency at the time - The Zone Agency, started THE BASEMENT GIG, a monthly music showcase for emerging and budding talents all across Nigeria to display their artistic brilliance.
4 years on, The Basement Gig is waxing stronger, staking a claim for arguably the biggest Live Music Event for emerging artistes out of Nigeria with lots of partnerships and collaborations.
It’s safe to say Osagie, who currently manages the likes of Timaya and Reminisce, has a big deal on her desk with The Basement Gig, and with a knack for managing and discovering talents across Africa, The Basement Gig can only get bigger.
Cecil Hammond – Flytime Music Festival
Cecil Hammond, the President of the Flytime Group, has been in the business of organizing great shows for over 15 years.
When Flytime Promotions announced its second edition of the Flytime Music Festival in December 2019, names like American rap superstar Megan Thee Stallion, Reggae wunderkid Koffee, legendary group Boyz II Men, and man of the year Burna Boy came up. Slated to hold across 5 days (starting from December 20th), the event would actualize its potential by churning out great performances from a diverse set that included Lady Donli, Show Dem Camp, Odunsi (The Engine), Tiwa Savage, Davido, and many others.
Adetoro Fowoshere – Future Live in Concert
One of the loudest moments of 2019's 'Detty December' shows was the arrival of American rapper Future in Nigeria. Announced on the back of a Grammy nomination and a tour with Meek Mill, Future got into the country for his first headline show in Africa and had the hearts of many who encountered him during his brief stay.
Future Live in Concert was organized by Toro Entertainment Company –led by Adetoro Fowoshere– and delivered a good time to concertgoers. So good, a review mentioned its brevity as its most glaring shortcoming. The rapper had performed some of his songs like "Racks" and "Karate Chop (Remix)," and was supported by Nigerian artists Rema, Dr. Sid, Pepenazi, and Oxlade.
Matthew Ohio – Industry Nite
Since founding El' Carnival in 2008, Matthew Ohio has been a silent achiever, working magic behind the scenes; he is on Afrobeats Power Players 2019 Live Events table. His legacy is earned through his work at Industry Nite, a platform for upcoming artists to showcase their talent; it plays a mid role too, connecting acts with top players in the industry through networking. In 2019, we ran a story on Industry Nite's impact, the writer saying: "I have attended at different times and I can confidently say that each experience is unique. I have come across many talented musicians and watching some top artists perform put me in my feels such that I still dream of those nights."
In 2019, amongst a slew of artists for other months, Afro Dancehall superstar Timaya held his Industry Nite in March. The veteran artist had up and coming artists like Peruzzi, Dapo Tuburna, T Classic, King Perry, and Goodgirl LA supporting his set with performances. Influential industry personalities like DJ Jimmy Jatt, OAP Olisa Adibua, and YBNL A&R Alexander Okeke were also present; that line-up selling the idea of what a typical Industry Nite looks like, how it's become a cornerstone of the Nigerian LIVE music scene.
Mr Eazi – Detty Rave
Mr. Eazi popularized Detty December, a term that's now being employed in popular culture to mean the holiday-themed December shows and relaxation programs in general. Ever the business-inclined person, he's made moves off that title, namely the 2019 Detty Rave concert which was held in Accra, Ghana.
The December 27 event had international stars Rick Ross, Machel Montano, Kranium, and Koffee in attendance; Sarkodie, Joey B, KiDi, Darkovibes, King Promise, Kuami Eugene, Joeboy, Simi and Busiswa were some of the African acts who graced the stage too. "Mr. Eazi Packs The House in Detty Rave 3," our review of the event, featured these words from Nnamdi Okirike, the writer: "Detty Rave 3 was reported to have admitted a whopping 15,000+ concert goers, a remarkable feat. With the "Year of Return" Accra, Ghana received a very significant increase in the number of tourists, who took advantage of the timing to attend the major events happening in the city towards the end of the year. This was likely a contributory factor to the number of people who attended Detty Rave, which was likely a multiple of the previous year's number. However, it's possible that the tourist influx was just an added bonus because the star-studded lineup was definitely more than enough to draw the attention of any music fan."
Abdul Karim Abdullah and Kenny Agyapong – Afrochella
The Afrobeats Power Players 2019 Live Events is not complete if we fail to mention Abdul Karim Abdullah.
In a Forbes feature, Afrochella –conceptualized by Abdul Karim Abdullah in 2015, who later founded it with Kenny Agyapong– was dubbed "Ghana's Hottest Festival." Since 2017, the event which heavily intersects with black identity and culture has delivered the most wholesome packages for anyone interested in experiencing Africa through its music and other art forms. "In addition to its one-day festival, the Afrochella brand offers conversation series dedicated to discussions on African business, music, food, and the creative industry," the Forbes article reported.
On December 27, festival attendees gathered in their thousands at the El Wak Stadium for the event dubbed "Diaspora Calling." American rapper Ludacris was among the many who visited (reported to be over 10,000 people), sharing photos taken at the Slave Castles of Cape Coast and affirming his African identity. Afrochella, over the years, has remained true to its top mission of cultural resonance, and it's largely been down to the effort of its organizers, the assistance they've received from the Ghanaian government, and outfits who believe in its pan-Africanist ideals.
Moving on to the next table of the Afrobeats Power Players 2019 Live & Award,
On the Awards Table of the Afrobeats Power Player 2019
Ayo Animashaun, The Headies
Established in 2006 by the Hip Hop World Magazine, The Headies (formerly Hip Hop World Awards) has become the foremost awards platform in Nigeria. Its annual ceremonies are marked by a high level of expectation from artists, fans, journalists, and everyone who knows enough to care about the music industry. A golden Headies award is a fine and most coveted addition to any artist's cabinet.
Ayo Animashaun, who organizes the Headies through Smooth Firm Productions, is a revered name in Africa's entertainment industry and has been putting in the effort for over 20 years. He oversaw a 2019 edition of the event, themed 'Power of a Dream,' and hosted by rapper Reminisce and media personality Nancy Isime. The night featured performances from a number of artists including Styl-Plus, Sunny Neji, Duncan Mighty, Teni, and Victor AD. Rema went home with the coveted Next-Rated award. Afro Pop act Teni was the biggest winner on the night with 4 awards.
Anderson Obiagwu, Afrimma
The Afrobeats Power Players 2019 Award Event Lists and recognizes "AFRIMMA for their committment to writing the African music story on the world map and the mission is Crossing Boundaries with Music in aligning with the dream started by African Muzik Magazine. African music is on the verge of world glory and we are proud to be part of history," goes a mission statement on their official site. Started in 2014, the inaugural edition which was held at the Eisseman Center in Dallas, Texas, featured performances from artists as diverse as Fally Ipupa, Tekno, Eddy Kenzo, T-Pain, and Khuli Chana, a demonstration of their idea of representing as many African sounds and artists as possible. Telling the story properly.
Anderson Obiagwu (popularly called Big A) is the founder of Afrimma Awards, African Muzik Magazine, and CEO Big A Entertainment. He is known for his good work in connecting African music with people in the diaspora. He even has political recognition from the Mayor of Dallas to show for it. In October 2019, he orchestrated yet another event in honour of African music, recognizing the efforts of acts like Zlatan Ibile, Gospel act Mercy Chinwo, Kenya's Akothee, Togo's Toofan, and South Africa's Master KG, all of whom won awards on the night.
Mike Dada, AFRIMA
Mike Dada is on the Afrobeats Power Players 2019 Award Event' List. He is the President and Executive Producer of the prestigious All Africa Music Awards, AFRIMA, a music property that celebrates African musical heritage as well as builds professional capacity and network within the continent's music and creative industries. AFRIMA as an award event was a collaboration with the African Union and is subject to a democratic process when choosing host nations.
Lagos, Nigeria hosted last year's sixth edition, on the 23rd of December. Across continental and regional strata, 36 categories were announced. Some of its winners included Congo's Awilo Logomba and Nigeria's 2Baba, both of which went home with Legendary awards. Burna Boy, Sauti Sol, Nasty C, Braúlio Alexandre were also some of the recipients.
Tajudeen Adepetu, SOUNDCITY MVP
Since its launch in 2009, Soundcity TV has played an important role in pushing African music through its wide reach. To further this vision, the Soundcity MVP Awards was announced in 2016.
Veteran showbiz promoter Tajudeen Adepetu, the CEO of Consolidated Media Associates (CMA) has been the man behind the Soundcity MVP Awards, with a bag of over ₦1billion spent to organize the Awards, along with five other shows. The latest Soundcity MVP Awards, held on the 5th of January, 2020, saw artists like Burna Boy, Busiswa, Davido, and Navy Kenzo write their names onto its awardees list.
Iyiola Ayoade, Vodafone Ghana Music Awards
Next on the Afrobeats Power Players 2019 Award Event' List is the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA, formerly Ghana Music Awards) was established in 2000 by Mascot to celebrate Ghanaian musicians. Over the years, its popularity has spiked and Award Nights are such big deals, it sends a ripple down Ghana days and weeks after it's been held.
Iyiola Ayoade, the Group CEO of Multiple Concepts Group and Charterhouse, is the convener of the VGMA, along with other media productions. For 20 years, he's been heavily invested in the Ghanaian entertainment scene, and VGMA is a most direct impact on it. The 2020 edition, which was to be its 21st, is currently postponed, due to population restrictions caused by the lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19. A year ago, though –as is the focus of this feature– a successful event was put together by Charterhouse, as artists like Sarkodie (who was awarded Artist of the Decade), Shatta Wale, Yaa Pono, Kwesi Arthur, and Efya, took home awards.
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