Nigerian Musical Company Eulogises Late Victor Olaiya Four Years After.



On Tuesday, the Evergreen Musical Company eulogised late veteran trumpeter and highlife musician, Victor Olaiya, four years after his death. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the music legend died on 12 February 2023 at the age of 89 after a brief illness.

The Evergreen Musical Company is the biggest custodian of Nigeria’s traditional music, ranging from highlife to Juju music, Apala, Fuji, and many other genres. The Managing Director of Evergreen Musical Company, Bimbo Esho in a statement recalled the late Olaiya as having a unique dress sense.

“Dr. Victor Olaiya was the Evil Genius with a unique dress sense with his golden trumpet and white handkerchief, symbolizing his success.

“His ability to pen down philosophical melodies, love songs, and songs touching on socio-economic issues and vanities of life stood him out.

“He was one musician able to adapt traditional music of different tribes in his highlife repertoire,” she said.

Ms Esho noted that the late Olaiya, with fans among all socio-economic classes and age groups, dominates the highlife music terrain, affecting generations with his melodic and soothing evergreen songs.

She said that during his active years, he dictated the pace of highlife music with his calm and ballad-like orchestration.

“It didn’t take him long as he took center stage during the visit of Queen Elizabeth 11 to Nigeria in 1956. In 1960, his band was the official band that played during Nigeria’s Independence. Also, 1963, when Nigeria became a republic, he shared the same stage with Louis Armstrong.

“I have some of my all-time favorites among his songs, like ‘Ilu Le’, first released in the ’60s, which talks about the adverse austerity biting hard on the Nigerian masses and the different coping strategies taken to overcome it.

“In ‘Aiye Soro’, he admonished those with everything going for them to soft-pedal because nobody knows when the pendulum can swing back. The song ‘Gbasolode’, sung in Urhobo, is a love song where the lover man Victor tells his lover to stay with him through thick and thin,” she said.

More accolades

Ms. Esho also highlighted ‘Adogan’, where he lamented the perceived sweet pain of pint-sized men who are into relationships with fat women, satirizing their perceived suffering.

She said the song ‘Se Fun Mi’, which he dedicated to one of his wives, showed the late Olaiya professing intense love and affection to his wife, Bimbo.

“One could feel a sizzling thrill in his Ghanaian songs like ‘Yabonsa, Anyako koro’, done in collaboration with ET Mensah. His song ‘Iye Jemila’, sung in the Ijebu dialect, talks about Bride Price, and his lamentation for the dead could be felt in the dirge ‘Ewele We Ku Ewele’. One will feel a touch of folklore in songs like ‘Pariboto Riboto’ and ‘Lekeleke’.

“Soro Jeje Fun Arugbo’ is a song that should prick the conscience of those who carelessly disregard the aged in society. He dedicated a love song titled ‘Omo Pupa’ to fair-skinned ladies and promised them ticket money to meet him in London. One can never get tired of listening to his ‘Baby Jowo’, sung and rebranded by different artistes and bands.

“It has been four years without our Victor, but his memory lingers on,” she said.


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