For many musicians, they discover their passion and begin their pursuit as children. However, not all of them have the means to chase their dreams. Some start as late as their teenage years, while others only have the financial stability to begin their pursuit as adults. Renowned jazz musician Francis Onah was one of those people whose talents were discovered during his teenage years.
Born in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, in Africa, Francis Onah-Adie would only begin his musical journey at the age of sixteen. By nineteen, he would buy his first trumpet. Onah showed prodigious progress and gained even more recognition at twenty-four when he picked up the saxophone. He learned the rudiment in five days and, on the sixth, performed at a concert organized by Alliance France, Lagos — Nigeria.
As a musician, Francis Onah went on to perform with a lot of bands. He would receive the opportunity to tour on a global stage and perform at various Jazz Festivals worldwide. As a result, Onah was exposed to different music styles that would guide him in finding his own. He later developed his style, leaning towards the African roots seen today. Francis Onah would make his debut with his single titled “Iripia,” which would be the first song to showcase his tribute to his African roots. The song takes inspiration from his cultural heritage with sounds that tell stories of the region.
Francis Onah also took inspiration from musicians like Manu Dibango, Hugh Masekela, Angelique Kidjo, and others. However, it was Manu Dibango whose music style gave Onah the road map to his musicianship. He cites Dibango’s song “Douala Serenade” from the Waka Juju Album for playing a strong influence. Iripia would later be revealed to be part of his new album, Ogoja City.
Ogoja City has only been released recently and can be found on all streaming platforms. The album was inspired by Onah’s appreciation of his cultural heritage. His goal is to showcase his root to the world by captivating souls with the melody of his songs and the simplicity of his music.
As a jazz musician, Francis Onah goes through a unique production and arrangement. He usually begins the process by catching the mood of his music from the bass groove and backs it up with some rhythmic chords from the keys. Afterward, he thinks about the horn arrangement, percussion, guitar, and the other key instruments for his music. Being a jazz musician, Onah prioritizes his music’s instrumental aspect as he prefers making an impact on his listeners with the melody of his music.
Following the success of Ogoja City, Francis Onah plans to continue creating music. He is working towards releasing more albums and is enthusiastic about getting the chance to collaborate with different artists globally. Having toured around, Francis Onah is targeting more tours soon as he plans to perform at various jazz festivals around the world. Like any musician, he dreams of one day winning the Grammy Awards.
To learn more about Francis Onah, you may visit his website.