It has been long the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of List Entertainment, Mr. Sunday Are spoke extensively on major industry issues but the former Manager of the defunct Mo’Hits did in a recent chat with Rasheed Abubakar of Encomium Magazine. He opened up on life after the shocking break-up that scattered one of the biggest Record Labels in Nigeria and other issues.
Being a veteran artiste manager, how has it been?
— The only thing I can say is I am working and I have not stopped working because it’s a job that gives me joy. I have passion for my job. I love the job and that is why you’ll see me at some event, not because of the money but the passion. Beside, my core work is field work, which is setting up stage, sound and light until when I diverted into artiste management. In fact, I prefer to be addressed as a stage manager than artiste manager because that’s my foundation. For instance, I coordinated all the artistes that performed at the launch of Mo Abudu’s EbonyLifeTv and Dare’sLove Like A Movie Concert. I paired Pa Victor Olaiya with 2face, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey with M.I, Elegant Stallion Onyeka Onwenu with Omawumi and King Sunny Ade with Wizkid for tight rehearsals in my office during the EbodyLifeTv lunch. It was a tight concert and I feel honoured for such events. Honestly, I still want to do my stage management work even though I still love managing artistes because it’s something I love doing as well.
Let’s talk about the business of managing artistes. How profitable is the business?
— It is the joy of everyone to do business and make profit from it, but for me; it is not about the money. When I joined the industry in 1979, I didn’t think about making money, my love for music was the driven force because as at that time, I had nobody, I just lost my dad. So I had no family around but I know a group and somebody that do music. I went to him and I told him my intention to join him. That’s how it all began. About profitability, you can ask all the artistes i have worked with. I have managed from D’banj to Omawumi, I didn’t start working with them base on money. Even when I set up the band for D’banj, I don’t think he or the group pay me to set-up the band. I did it because I love D’banj’s style of music and I want to see him performing with live band until later when they started making money. We began to take budget for that. Even for promotion, I used my money to promote their songs because they have good materials.
From experience, what are the usual challenges of managing artistes?
— Every profession has its challenges but for me, I have always been happy with the people I have or I am working with. If you do what I want, I will be happy because I cannot withstand challenges. So, I will rather break-up with you before the challenges would come. I always see the signs coming in most cases, that is why it’s hard for you to see any artiste that would come out and say he sacked me.
I have seen you at couple of shows full of energy to ensure that your artistes are satisfied with your services. Where do you get the energy even at your old age?
— (Cuts-in) I am still young; I am still here (smiles). The fact is I love my job and I love everybody that I work with. I always want them to see me as their body, so we work together even though they are the one you see on stage. It is not the matter of old even though I am still a young but the love for the job. I love my job and I think that is the source of the energy you see me displayed.
There is a general impression that you’ve lost your core job since the broke up of Mo’Hits. How true is it?
— Lost my core job? I don’t think so because the name, Sunday Are has been there for long and my prayer is that it would remain forever. What many people don’t really know is that before Mo’Hits eventually broke up, I have made up my mind to stop working with D’Banj. Don’t get me wrong, D’Banj is one artiste I will continue to love whether we see or we don’t see, whether we talk or we don’t talk. Personally, if I am working with you and I don’t love you, I won’t achieve anything on you. So for me to achieve my mission on you, I must love you. But for D’banj, I see it coming. The love I have for him was dropping and two weeks before they announced their break-up, something happened between us during a show in Asaba, and that night, I wouldn’t lie to you, I said to myself, I am not going to work with him again. Like I told you earlier, I can’t withstand challenges, so before it comes, I took the decision.
Would you like to share what happened between you and D’banj?
— It’s best known to us and I think it’s not important anymore. Truly, I was not happy during the period but that was then. Life goes on and till tomorrow, he’s somebody I still love, respect. So, I thank God that he’s doing well and I am also doing fine. I am very happy because I know what I have achieved since they left. I know what God has done for me since they parted ways.
Aside D’banj, do you still have a working relationship with Mavin artistes?
— The thing is, when I stopped working with D’Banj, I still maintained my working relationship with others in the Mo’Hits but I never knew they had planned to break-up. When the break-up came, I went back to the drawing board and plan my next move. Although I still get shows for them or connect clients with the right people they needed to call to get D’banj, Wande Coal and others for shows, even for Tiwa Savage. There’re some I collected service charge but in most cases, I did it for free. So, it wasn’t like the working relationship I have with them as members of Mo’Hits.
But there have been different reports that you manage D’Prince, Dr. Sid, even Wande Coal before recent story that Wande Coal sacked you for Nana Abbey, one of your boys. How true are these reports?
— Like I said, we still have a very good relationship but not really a working relationship. They call me “our daddy” anytime they see me. So, where they employ me as their managers I don’t really know. It sounded a bit insulting when I heard it but it is one of those things. For me, I don’t think anyone of them needs me as hype because they are already super stars. The person that was said to have sacked me (Wande Coal) and the one they sacked me for (Nana Abbey) are my children. I remember how his parent brought him (Nana) to learn under me not even to work. It was very ridiculous to see the headline; Wande Coal sacks Sunday Are, his Manager, for Nana Abbey! Nana Abbey is my son and Wande Coal has never employed me before.
— What about your appointment as one of Don-Jazzy’s aides?
—- That word, aide sounds weird because if you check my age and that of Don-Jazzy, the gap is wide. Let me tell you the truth about myself, I am a proud person and I respect myself. I may not be more than this but I know my worth. So, I am not comfortable with the word. But, the truth of the matter is that he called me one afternoon that my children (referring to Dr. Sid, Prince) are missing and they wanted to see me. I told him I would be travelling out of the country. So, when I came back, we met and he specifically told me that I should take care of Dr.Sid and D’Prince the way I am taking care of my artistes. That was about a year after they registered Mavin Records. I accepted and collected their materials, their singles and I did the promo CD for their new songs. So, it is not like a Management deal but rather than helping them because of the bond we’ve shared together.