|Shola’s new album, Kind of Music, has been released and is available on all the major platforms.
Click here to listen to it on Spotify.
Shola and I sat down to discuss the songs on the album, and what they mean to him and his life.
Here’s what he told me…
On my new album, I want to share my MUSIC, my CULTURE, and my GOSPEL with everyone. The album’s title, KIND OF MUSIC. says it all.
I hope all the songs on the album express my musicianship, but I feel like that comes out most in these songs.
SALT OF THE EARTH is really what Kind of Music means to me because it is a combination of different things, in the sense of combining different elements of modern music into one song. The progression of the song is based on a jazz standard called Killer Joe. So I inserted the jazz voice it needed. The bridge is one that is typically from Africa’s natural time signature, 6/8. At the same time, wrote a Tetris with the tuba and trombone in the Mexican music tradition which created a sort of poly-rhythm. The melody was written based on rhythm patterns to fit the style! The jazz, Mexican horn style, and drums and bass line with a touch of South African feel – that’s the kind of phased approach it gives. Salty is what the Kind of Music album is all about!
BIOWE (PART 2) is like a professional archive for me. Blues is a common progression in jazz. There have been over a thousand songs written out of the same progression – and you can write anything over the chord progression. That’s why it’s so popular. Charlie Parker added his own changes and called it “Parker’s Changes”. Bowe came from that aspect. It outlines a kind of musical element that is trending; namely the Afrobeat, Afropop, and dance beat, but at the same time, it is my own.
ODODO is a bit of musical experimentation. I first conceived it from a gospel song by Don Moen. I liked the movement of Moen’s song, but I decided to change the rhythm to one based on our natural 6/8 time signature. Once I did that, it gave me a different sound. It’s highly percussive, and I introduced a bit of rap with the sax.
Afro Jazz shows my conviction about the music I do, the kind of legacies I believe in, the undoubting abilities of those who have pioneered their own course through a different kind of music. There’s been a lot of African and American jazz greats. People knew Bob Marley for reggae. People knew Fela Kuti for Afro Beats. I’m trying to pioneer Afro Jazz. It’s me just trying to take on my own legacy. This is who I am. This is my identity, the music I play. It’s a very exciting kind of music as well, and that’s the kind of artist I want to be.
Culture, both mine individually, and ours collectively, is an important part of these songs on the album.
KIND OF AFRIKA raises the question ‘What kind of African are you’… and how our African culture is revealed in our roles as parents and children, in business, and in relationships. How do we harness the strength of culture and build up legacies set by the great heroes like Nelson Mandela, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and Martin Luther King Jr . This song Kind of Afrika is about letting our fathers’ achievements be the vision for love and equality. Let’s keep shining the light.
KIND OF MUSIC (IFE) is a song that gives me strength when I am weak. Unfortunately, I haven’t been great at love, and love is what the word IFE means. I’ve had many occasions in life where things didn’t go as I planned because of love in the wrong direction, and because often, in the long run, I am not capable of hiding the pain that love can bring with a mask of seeming joy.
Spirituality and the Gospel have always been an important part of my life and my music, especially in these songs.
BA (Blessed Assurance) is typical of the belief that all scripture is given by God’s inspiration, and that God’s good works can perfectly and thoroughly provide for mankind. Also, according to Yanni, “Judgement and Creativity are opposite, both are important but can’t exist in the same place at the same time.” In my downtime as a musician, BA is my gateway to connect to that source. When I am musically depressed and I need some strength, all I need to do is go to my keyboard without any preconceived ideas and start playing BA. The song has, on several occasions, helped me transcend into that creative zone where I am surrendered. As a matter of fact, the day I wrote this particular arrangement of BA – I wrote four other songs that are on this album. I wrote Afro Jazz the same day. I wrote IFE the same day. I wrote Ododo the same day. I wrote Revelation the same day. In one sitting. All glory to the almighty.
REVELATION is a narrative of how some human beings think they understand God. They interpret the creator and they explain His actions and how they think He works. Bold humans I’d say! In this song, I started by seeking God like a town crier, waiting for thundering responses – like the bass guitar – and then I sought further to seek him in my dreams, saying “Hello God” in different voices, and imagining different images of him. In all the different languages I called on him. Then on the second verse, I heard nothing, except for music, lots of music, rejoicing, and eternity. Together with the rest of the band, we conclude that the supreme God is who He says He is.
STORY STORY (REBIRTH) shows the common goal that connects my instrumental arrangements, lyrical composition, and saxophone approach – keeping things in the human range, keeping them as relatable as possible. By that, I am taking into consideration that most listeners are not experts in music composition, but they are lovers of good music. One way I describe this ability is when I think of certain gospel songs and gospel recording artists, those who are most successful at reaching and ministering to my kind of person.
Inspirational sources such as Don Moen, Hillsong, Nathaniel Bassy, sing in a way that keeps a special connection to the audience at large. Their kind of gospel is very respectful of others, their ministry is not aggressive, it is focused and attentive. Story Story has that kind of influence.
As much as I wish to be successful in gospel ministry, the stereotypical expectations of the gospel saxophonist sometimes diminish my musical relationship to him who has all the glory, God.
I remain delighted He has given me an opportunity with music, to share it as a blessing, for music is a gift He has blessed me with.
With joy, I present to you the KIND OF MUSIC.