KUSH GIRLS READY WITH SOLO ALBUMS
Three years after they stopped performing as a group, all three members of the celebrated gospel group KUSH are ready with individual solo albums. The group which was signed to DKG (an international label headed in Nigeria by Sam Onyemelukwe) and managed by Gbenga Shokefun, died unceremoniously in 2004, shortly after its soprano singer Lara got married in Lagos. But before then, there had been incessant speculations about a pending break occasioned by internal rancour on one side, and issues with manager Gbenga Shokefun on the other. Despite constant denials, with even a promise of a second album, and an international release of ‘The Experience’ their debut album, the young University of Lagos graduates soon drifted apart: TY (Toyin Shokefun) went ahead to pursue her dreams with photography; Lara (Lara Bajomo) took up a full time job, and established a catering firm while the group’s rapper Emem (Emem-Abasi Emah) settled for music business partnering with friends, first to form Vhishuns Media, and later One Management. She was named British Council’s International Music Enterprenuer of the year for Nigeria in 2006.
However, few years down the road, it appears the trio have failed to resist the lure of music, with each now clutching a master tape, DV tapes, and record contracts. TY a much sought-after photographer and member of depth-of-field (a photography collective) is about now, releasing her debut single and video ‘Greenland’, and is ready to unleash her full album on Nigerians before mid year. ‘She’s been busy recording all these while.
I don’t think she really ever took a break from music’ said a source close to her. Lara who now has a baby, took a break from her record contract with Solomon Arueya’s Westside Music to feature in the reality show West African Idols where she failed to make any fantastic impact. But there’s no doubt that the singer is immensely talented. With a voice that leaves fans, critics and even haters in awe, Lara is optimistic about a solo career – and her first single ‘ijoba orun’ is a sign that she’s got some goodies.
She’s even getting busy with the treadmill, anxious to burn some fat, so that when we like what we hear, we’ll fall in live with what we see too.
Emem Emah now called Mem’O doesn’t have any fats to burn, but she’s burning a lot of energy kicking rap verses on her colleagues albums, and on her own material which she says will be ready for the public soon. ‘Really, I’ve just been busy recording. Putting down anything that comes to me. I’m trying to say some things, trying to express myself’ she told a friend recently. Mem’O is presently managed by One Management.
With the recent developments, industry watchers are beginning to say there’s more to the KUSH break up than meets the eye.
For, why would all three girls remain good friends, even collaborate on each other’s albums, yet are unable to come together and hit the stage as KUSH? While an informed source says only manager Gbenga Shokefun and KUSH lawyer Toyin Subair understand the complications in the KUSH saga, the girls maintain there was never a planned break up. Speaking to a magazine last year, Lara, shortly after delivering her baby (Adeoba), said ‘…it happened the way it happened.
It wasn’t really planned or anything. I’m not sure I’ll say anything went wrong. Essentially we are three different people whose lives were going in three different directions. We are still friends, we still relate with each other, but musically, we are just seeing things from different points of view’.
KUSH (an acronym for ‘kinetically ushering salvation into hearts and homes’) was formed after Emem, Lara, TY and Dapo Torimiro met at Rock Solid Choir in Unilag while all pursuing undergraduate studies. With Dapo, the only male member as producer, the group spent night and day generating songs and concept, and making plans for a music take over.
Then they got Gbenga Shokefun, CEO of Spirit Rose Entertainment and elder brother to TY to shop for a deal in the US. Gbenga was then based in the US, with enviable contacts in mainstream music business.
After getting the girls signed to DKG music, he returned to Nigeria to nurse their career full time, eventually releasing their debut album ‘The Experience’ a 16 tracked LP which spawned hits like ‘let’s live together’ and ‘angel’. The album was produced by Jeff Taylor and Chinaku Danforth.