The music industry is abundant with many artists who come from different backgrounds looking to share their music. Francis Onah is a rising artist who hails from Africa with a discography that pays tribute to his culture.
Born and raised in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, Francis Onah-Adie is a renowned jazz musician, saxophonist, composer, arranger, and singer. He began his musical journey at the early age of sixteen, having been influenced by many wonderful singers of various genres. At 19 years old, Francis would take a closer step to his musical career when he bought his first trumpet. He showed early promise, mastering the instrument, and standing by his trumpet for years before he would later pick up the saxophone at 24. Having already mastered a metal wind instrument, it took Francis only five days to learn the rudiment. He would later perform on the sixth day at a concert organized by Alliance France, Lagos — Nigeria.
The performance would propel Francis to the music world as he found opportunities to travel, tour, and perform on a global stage. Francis Onah would join various bands as they joined lineups for various jazz festivals around the world. As Francis was immersed in the musical environment around him, he began to develop his style.
Francis Onah developed a musical philosophy where “Less is more” as he started to lean more towards his African roots. The saxophonist took inspiration from jazz legends in terms of style, and he applied lessons from the different bands he played with. Francis developed a decision thought process when it came to writing and arranging his music. He usually began with his music’s mood from the bass groove before backing it up with some rhythmic chords. From there, he would add the rest of the instruments. The process resulted in his debut album, Ogoja City, which was released in October 2020. Francis dropped his first single, Iripia, before the official release.
Iripia is a song inspired by Francis’ cultural heritage with sounds that tell stories of the region. Francis Onah wrote the song during a time he was facing some adversities. He recalls touching down at the Detroit Airport on his way to Lansing, Michigan when the thought of giving thanks struck him despite no light coming from the end of the tunnel. A few minutes later, the melody came to him, and he recorded the sound on his phone.
The song is only the tip of the iceberg as Ogoja City is inspired by Francis Onah’s appreciation of his cultural heritage. He combines the elements of the musical styles of Angelique Kidjo, Hugh Masekela, and Manu Dibango, particularly Dibango’s song Douala Serenade, among many others. Their music provided Francis with the road map to his career in music. Francis also attributes other music genres, such as Juju, Fuji, Apala, High-Life, and Makossa, as his inspiration.
Following the release of Ogoja City, Francis Onah plans to release multiple albums soon as he looks to collaborate with different artists globally. The jazz musician is working to give back to his community as he targets a return to touring and performing at various jazz festivals worldwide.
To learn more about Francis Onah, you may visit his website.
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