Tee Mac: Those days you needed a good band, an interesting song and reasonable good voice...Now the guitar effect “auto tune” covers up the voice and the change of frequency makes it impossible to identify the original voice

While some believe and live on the thoughts that the Entertainment Industry is thriving, there are those who say it is blatantly failing. Godfreytimes in an interview with  Dr. Tee Mac  Omatshola ISELI (MFR) asked the renowned flutist that which of these categories he belongs and why?

The musical-driven personage whose repute is mightily a big mention locally and internationally, shared his views on what the entertainment industry was and what he finds it to be now.

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 I have been professionally involved in the Entertainment Industry since 1968 when I was 20 years old and was still doing my master degree on the Flute, first in Lausanne Switzerland at the Academy and second part in France at the Sorbonne. (I started to play the flute at the age of 7 ½). Then show business was clear. Either you were good and became a professional instrumentalists in any top Orchestra or you were mediocre and you entered the entertainment industry, wrote and sang or performed a commercial song, praying that you hit the trend and made as much money as possible for the time your trend lasted. But in those days you needed a good band, an interesting song and reasonably good voice. There were countless good bands worldwide giving you competition. To get onto a well viewed TV show you needed a hit song, so everything was kind of structured. I had in 1969-70 a small hit in Switzerland on Discartist and became kind of a celebrity. I took my earnings and returned to my home country Nigeria with a good public address system (BINSON) a good flute and a lot of enthusiasm. Formed my first band called Tee Mac and Afro Collection. I had notable musicians like, Laolu Aktins (drums), Mike Odomusi (Base guitar) until he left to join Osibisa and was replaced by Tunde Kuboye; Joni Haastrup (Keyboard), Steve Black (male backup singer); Friday Pozo (Kongas), Lijadu Sisters (female backup singers).  We were extremely good for those days and not too commercial but the world famous drummer Ginger Baker (of the CREAM band) heard us and signed on everybody behind my back so I left Nigeria. But then Nigeria had many good live bands, from High Life to Afro Beats to night club bands like Segun Boknor or the Hickers etc. We only had NTA National (or network) plus in each state a state NTA (Lagos had channel 5 and channel 10. There was a keen competition to get onto TV because that was the best way to become popular. You had to rehearse well and perform life, no miming no backups. I went on to become a Platinum selling recording artist, not just because of good luck! Because of songs which made sense and created a trend; DISCO.

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Now let’s forward to the last 10 years. Internet, millions of internet TV channels (YouTube, Instagram, FB live etc.) many more possibilities and less viewers. Then came channel O, MtV Base, Sound City and the quality dropped to the bottom. Good music was the least required. A catchy sing along, like shaky shaky, baby baby, no more good lyrics. Even the most stupid lyrics like ‘’soapy soapy suddenly become instant hits with the young ones. Hardly anybody bothers to buy a CD. Everything is illegal downloading or blue toothing to each other. The main income descends to “ring tone” sales. A good voice is not needed anymore because the guitar effect “auto tune” covers up the voice and the change of frequency makes it impossible to identify the original voice. The dressing, bling bling, hairstyle; the video background (expensive cars and big asses) are more important than the composition of a good song. Those songs are produced on laptops in bedrooms for nearly no money, important is that a few million naira is available for the video shoot. More and more adults get separated from the teenagers (totally music illiterates) because to them a “star” must be a fine boy and not a good artist. In Nigeria the music level has degenerated to a low it had never been before. You go to a party or a night club and everything sounds the same. The same beats, the same monotonous base guitar or keyboard base line. No nice solos anymore; hardly an identifiable change between choruses and verses. Most performers don’t even know in what “key” they are singing (if you can call that singing!). To be commercial is OK, as long you sell records, but to be “commercial trashy” and not to sell is a crime in show business. With this trend Nigeria will not compete internationally and we are deceiving ourselves with some few collaborations abroad. We need more music academies, more spots in music departments in Universities. School children should like abroad learn from early age how to sing, play the guitar, pianos etc. So that there is a solid foundation if somebody decides to enter show business. Not just the dream of fame and easy money. As long as show business in Nigeria doesn’t add much to the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria, the government will not take it serious. Like every profession, one has to learn, study, work on it for years to achieve a level that one can compete worldwide.