1- You clearly come from a Nigerian gospel tradition where in your homeland you were a pianist and organist. Was this your initial musical training?
I was trained by my father at a very young age. Since I was 3, I have been singing in the kids choir in church. At age 6, I started learning the recorder. At age 13, my dad started me on the piano. I took several graded exams up to grade 5 theory and piano. I later did a diploma course in piano at (Muson) The Musical Society of Nigeria and I finished with a distinction in 2012. Furthermore, since I was around 15 years old, I have been playing the organ and piano for the Apostolic Faith church and this gave me a very huge experience.
2- Is your family musical?
Yes my family is musical. My dad plays the Flute and teaches several instruments including piano. My mum plays the violin and sings in the church choir. I have 3 siblings, and older brother and two younger ones. The older plays violin and sings, he also teaches music. My younger ones also teach music and play instruments. My younger sister sings, also she plays, piano and guitar while the last born plays the piano and organ.
3- You are also a composer for various instruments, both solo and chamber. Was there a spark that led to this creative artistry as well?
My composition ability was discovered in 2008 when I was gifted a Sibelius music make software by a friend. I started experimenting with it and before I knew it, I got very interested in writing tunes with it. There was a lot of trials and errors but with my piano skill, I was able to create some nice pieces. Since then I took composition seriously. I have been asked by the youth orchestra in my church to write some pieces for them with I did. My future aspiration is to stage concerts of my own compositions all over the globe.
4- You left Nigeria to pursue training in music performance in London. Are the facilities in training and performance in Nigeria limited, and do you think the success of people like you could increase public appreciation of this art in Africa?
I learnt how to play the piano in Nigeria, however, I had to upgrade my skills and technique so I took the opportunity to come to London to study knowing fully well that there are more facilities available in London. The facilities in Nigeria are limited only for a person who wishes to be a ‘world class’ performer. However, the facilities in Nigeria is more than enough to make someone a very good performer. But for me, I wasn’t satisfied with been a very good performer, I wanted to be exceptional and in order to achieve that, I had to come to London where the very best are.
The success of people like me will definitely increase the public appreciation of the art. It actually has in a way because I have been an inspiration to many with the help of God. Before I left Nigeria, I appeared in several public performances especially in Muson. I also went to Nigeria to perform in a concert after concluding my degree in London. The concert was staged in Lagos Muson. Based on the feedback I got after the concert, it is safe to conclude that the concert was greatly appreciated by many.
5- Early in 2017, you concluded your performance studies (BMus) at the London College of Music. How do you recall this time and the abiding lessons from your masters?
My time in London College of Music was very tough and exciting as well. My piano teacher did a very good job at pushing me to the limit countless times. I was made to memories and perform extensive piano pieces within short period of time. I also had to write so many essays and concert reviews. My teachers were very helpful especially in the aspect of writing essays and getting distinctions. I worked relentlessly to meet up with the demands. Overall, I can say that the College experience transformed me.
6- Can you share with us an abiding memory in connection with one of your performances or competitions?
I have had many beautiful performance moments since I started my music career. One of them was my first piano solo rendition when I was around 14 years old. I started learning the piano at 13, so my dad asked me to learn Fur Elise so I could perform it in the church December concert. This was my first big challenge. The performance was very successful, I was extremely nervous but I played flawlessly and everyone stood amazed. My second big experience was even more interesting and intense, I played for a very large audience. In 2011, About 50, 000 people were seated in the Apostolic Faith camp meeting convention in Ogun State Nigeria. I played Beethoven’s Tempest sonata movement 3. The success of the performance made a lot of people aware of me. The success of the performance gave me a very huge psychological boost, after that time, I started looking forward to performing piano solos publicly which inspired me to practice and sacrifice more.
7- How often do you practice?
I have a very bad practice habit. Each time I have an upcoming concert, I practice very hard, sometimes 15 hrs per day. But after the performance, I relax which sometimes means I might not practice for 2 months. I don’t practice everyday like I used to. Nevertheless I am trying to work on this bad habit.
8- Would you consider teaching music in the future?
I already teach piano to people. Even though I prefer performing to teaching, I feel like I have no choice than to teach. So yes, I will do more teaching in the future.
9- Who is your favourite musician and why?
As awkward as this may sound, I do not have a favourite musician that is currently alive. My favourite musician is Franz Liszt (1811-1886) who is regarded as the greatest pianist that ever lived. Even though all known about him is his works and story, I have been greatly inspired by his life. Apart form his outstanding musical skills, he was a very generous person. He gave a huge amount of his fortune to helping the poor. Because of his charity, he had no money at his old age. He is my favourite musician because he was never selfish, not only did he feed the poor and homeless, he also helped promote other musicians like Chopin, Richard Wagner and many other more. He also gave free tuition through out his life time. He never charged for teaching piano to people. I could go on and on saying why he is my favourite musician but I will stop here.
10- How do you balance your study, performance and leisure times? What are the biggest sacrifices?
I don’t have any issues balancing my work and leisure. I play a lot of computer football game and online chess. Nevertheless, each time I have a performance coming up, I sacrifice all the games for practicing.