ESSENTIALS: Best of Dr. Victor Olaiya


Veteran Nigerian highlife singer and trumpeter, Victor Abimbola Olaiya was born on the 31st of December 1930 and died 12th February 2020.

The iconic singer died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). He was 89 years old.

Born to Alfred Omolona Olaiya and Bathsheba Owolabi Motajo, Olaiya was the 20th child of a family of 24. The Calabar born singer and instrumentalist was from Ijesha-Ishu in Ekiti State, Nigeria.

While his music appeals more to folks who listened to music during the 50s/60s, the early generation of music lovers got to also appreciate his music aswell. Before his demise, Mr. Olaiya worked with 2Baba on the remix of his song ‘Baby Jowo‘.

According to an Editor’s note on Apple Music, “A wickedly talented trumpeter who’s fiery timbre won the hearts of his fellow Nigerians, Dr. Victor Olaiya was one of the very first highlife superstars. In the ’50s and ’60s, the musician and his band filled dance halls with their swinging renditions of highlife classics, such as the big band-inspired “Iye Jemila,” while the rocking “Labalaba” showed Olaiya’s ability to harmonise his fluid horn section with slinky, rolling bass lines and syncopated rhythms. His legacy is assured to endure; an extensive catalogue serves as the bridge into modern Afrobeats.

According to his Wikipedia page, “His musical style was influenced by James Brown, with horn parts harmonised in Brown’s style, as opposed to the mostly unison lines of Afrobeat. The music includes the swinging percussion of Tony Allen, but not the syncopated style that Allen later pioneered.”

Some of his biggest hits include – Omopupa, Yabomisa No.2, Mr. Judge, Ai Ga Na, Labalaba, Moonlight Highlife, Oruku Tinditindi, Mofe Mu Yan, Omolanke, Omelebele, Trumpet Highlife, Iye Jemila, Pariboto Riboto, Okere Gwonko, So Fun Mi, among others.



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