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DR VICTOR OLAIYA: The Evil Genius of Highlife

Oluwatobi

Feb. 13, 2020

Source: Wuzup Nigeria 
It is no exaggeration that many Nigerians still prefer to listen to highlife music tracks by Victor Olaiya. His tracks were described as “Evil” because they made you shake your head without caring who was watching. Popular Iconic Trumpet Player Victor Olaiya, whose music continued to attract both old and young artists was extremely famous in Nigeria during the 1950s and early 1960s and received recognition outside his native country. Described as “The Evil Genius of Highlife” by Alhaji Alade Odunewu of the Daily Times, Olaiya‘s music bridges between Ghanaian highlife and what became Afrobeats.
His musical style was influenced by James Brown, with horn parts harmonized in Brown's style, as opposed to the mostly unison lines of Afrobeat. The music includes the swinging percussion of Tony Allen, but not the syncopated style that Allen later pioneered. Sir Victor was highly educated and formed his own band called the Cool Cats in 1954 and renamed the group to All-Stars Band in 1963, which once had and trained some popular music icons like the drummer Tony Allen and vocalist Fela Kuti in his group.
Olaiya released an album with Ghanaian highlife musician E. T. Mensah. Both the drummer Tony Allen and vocalist Fela Kuti played with Olaiya and went on to achieve individual success.
Source: Nigeria-Global News
The iconic trumpet player, who held sway in the mid 50’s gained widespread fame for his hit “Baby Jowo” with 2face Idibia. In July 2013, Victor Olaiya released the music video remix of “Baby Jowo” (Baby Mi Da) featuring 2face idibia and was received with much acclaim. He retired from his long music career in 2017 and had some hit tracks like Omopupa, Aigana, Pambotoriboto, Opataritius, Mo fe Muyan, Jemila, Kosowo l’ode, Odale Ore, So fun mi, Omolanke and Tina Mate, among others. Popular of his music albums include Odale Ore b/w Mofe Muyon (1958), Olaiya's Victories (1961), Highlife Reincarnation (1981), Baby Jowo(Baby Mi Da)with 2face (2013).
In 1990, Olaiya received a fellowship of the Institute of Administrative Management of Nigeria. For a period, he was also president of the Nigerian Union of Musicians. A talented sports man and lover of pets, Olaiya was in 1990 conferred with the fellowship of the Institute of Administrative Management of Nigeria and another doctorate degree (honorary) by the City University of Los Angeles, California, USA. He was former president of the Nigerian Union of Musicians (NUM) and still played his highlife gigs to thrill at his Stadium Hotel complex.
Sir Olaiya's death will create a big vacuum in the music industry. He was one of the last of the originals. He contributed immensely to the growth of highlife music in Nigeria and Ghana. Today, his songs will continue to remain evergreen in our hearts.
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