It was painful when Evergreen Music Company, the music label of Victor Olaiya announced his passing away of the veteran Highlife musician. Aged 89, Victor Olaiya was the doyen of Highlife music in Nigeria. He is known for blowing the trumpet and ruled the airwaves in the 1950s and early 1960s. He lived a very good life and rates high among the list of Nigerian entertainers.
While growing up, I remembered my socialite grandpa loved to listen to music which I inherited in the long run. The likes of Sunny Ade, Ebenezer, Victor Uwaifo and Victor Olaiya had a number of records on his shelf. Even though I don’t really like music back then, it soon became part of me as I learnt about life with these musicians’ lyrics.
‘Omo pupa o, omo pupa le mi fe’ grandpa always sing in his tenor voice. This is one of the several hit songs of Victor Olaiya back then. Although I don’t really know the artist, I could relate to this particular track. I got to know him better when 2face jumped on the remix of another of his hit songs ‘Baby Mi Da’. With his signature trumpet and white handkerchief, the old Victor Olaiya dazzled in the visuals of the hit track.
Highly revered, he has paid his dues when it comes to entertainment in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. He is a man whose works will live on forever.
Victor Olaiya_ 10 Things to Know About Him
Victor Olaiya is a prominent figure in Nigerian music. Here are 10 things to know about the music veteran who passed on the 12th of January 2020.
- He was born on the 31st of December 1930 in Calabar, Cross River State.
- He was born into a wealthy family and was the 20th child of a family of 24.
- Victor Olaiya first musical instruments were the Bombardon and the French horn which he learnt at an early age.
- Although he passed his school certificate examination and was accepted by Howard University, he chose to pursue a career in music.
- In 1956, Victor Olaiya and his band called the ‘Cool Cats’ performed for Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom on her visit to Nigeria.
- Victor Olaiya and his band played for troops of the Nigerian army during the Nigerian Civil War that occurred from 1967 to 1970. At this period, he was given the rank of a lieutenant colonel (honorary).
- He is a recipient of the Nigerian national award, Order of the Niger (OON).
- His associated acts include E. T. Mensah, Tony Allen, and the legendary Fela-Anikulapo-Kuti.
- His music bridges between highlife and what would become Afrobeat.
- Victor Olaiya married many wives and the number of his children is unknown. Among his children is Nollywood actress, Moji Olaiya.
May His gentle soul Rest in Peace.
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