|Tunde Baiyewu, Co-Founder, Lighthouse Family|
Celebrity Encounter Blog, Asabeafrika
is going into the archives to unleash the story of Nigeria’s—Abeokuta born
world renowned musician, Tunde Baiyewu
of the famous Lighthouse Family
musical band of the 90s to you all. His inspiring story as conveyed to Africa
by Ovation International magazine in
year 2002 is one story that will wow many of you, both at home and in the
Diaspora. We want the story to inspire and lubricate your zeal for success.
anyone would recognize him. Yet Tunde
Baiyewu is one of the most successful singers in the world. His voice is
his major asset. It is interesting what talent is buried in every man.
|The OVATION Magazine cover that celebrated Tunde Baiyewu|
grace. His life journey is an epic stuff. In this ever first exclusive
interview with an African magazine, Tunde
not only opened his house to OVATION,
he pours out his heart to us, taking us on a tour de force of his miraculous
voyage through the ocean of life.
to open his home sounded like heresy. For years, we were on the trail of this
incredibly talented singer. He was too busy and too private to grant our
requests. But all thanks to our good brother who is Tunde’s very close friend, Femi
Adeagbo, who encouraged him to speak to Africa’s leading celebrity magazine—Ovation
|Tunde Baiyewu’s 18th Century Ancestral home at Stanmore|
impossible possible, Tunde gave us a
very warm welcome into his sanctuary in Stanmore, Middlessex. According to a
literature on the property, “The Clock Tower”…is one of Stanmore’s oldest, most
prominent and best loved landmarks. This Grade II listed property dates back to
the early 18TH century having been originally commissioned by the Clutterbuck Family as stables for their
shire horses and drays.
the exciting story of one of Africa’s greatest ambassadors.
|Tunde Baiyewu & the hits; Tunde Baiyewu & the Ovation International publisher|
background….Yeah sure. I was born in London
in the mid 60s. By the age of about 5, my dad passed away. I think he died of
cancer, cancer of the liver or something. Before he passed away, actually he
went back to Nigeria, I think he knew
he was going to, he was going to go, so he went back and he died back home in Nigeria. When I remember actually as a
kid, one particular day, this is one of my very strong childhood memories,
early childhood memories, coming into the house; this is in London, my mum sitting on a stool and
just crying her eyes out, which like really upset me as a kid.
|Tunde Baiyewu in front of his Abeokuta ancestral home|
So I remember
going up to her and saying you know ‘stop crying’, begging her to stop crying
and she, you know, kinda like…down a little bit but as a kid at 5 you don’t
know what’s going on. Apparently what happened was my Dad had died, the reason
she was crying, so shortly after that, we went back to Nigeria. With my sister and I so from that age I grew up in Lagos, I was a little bit of a rascal
and I had to be transferred to another school in Ikere Ekiti.
was by the time i… you know what it’s like with African parents, they want you to be either an Engineer or a Doctor
or a Scientist and to be honest with you, by the time I got to the 4th
form I was more interested in Arts subjects.
|Tunde Baiyewu on stage|
Like Literature you know and arts
and a little bit of Music. But I was forced into doing physics, Chemistry and
Biology, the Biology bit so I just kinda like lost interest in at that age and
played truant a lot, wouldn’t go to school. So, in short, I was expelled from
school (laughs). I was kicked out of school. I actually remembered then, having
to go back home you know to explain with my reports, report card form. My mum
came back home early you know what it’s like in Nigeria. Like my mum drives and as your parents would normally turn
into the streets and from the top of the road you could hear the horn beeping
Pom! Pom!! Pom!!!. Exactly, so I was very familiar with the sound of my mum’s
horn. So she came home early from work. She worked at the Lagos University Teaching
passed away about two years ago….and so I remembered trembling thinking ‘ooh my
God’. She came early and asked for my report card. I gave it to her (laughs)
actually, stupid me when I got home the first thing I did was to ravage the
kitchen ‘cos I was very hungry; which is not the sort of thing you should be
doing in that kind of situation. Actually you should be down as meek as a lamb.
Anyway she looked at my report and completely lost it, she got really upset,
angry. Anyway, that’s how I ended up going to a boarding school in Ikere Ekiti, Ondo State (Now Ekiti State). I was out there repeating the fourth
form. And you know what it is like in a Boarding School learning to be sharp
and smart. It’s a different kettle of fish schooling out there.
For me, it’s
been quite different. Being in the middle of nowhere, like six or seven hours
drive, no planes, no trains or anything you are just left out there all on your
own to fend for yourself and learn how to survive. Even when there are promises
from friends like ‘don’t worry ma we will look after him’ and all that stuff
just to get some provisions for me was a problem. Anyway, I was in Ondo for two years and after that I
spent a year in Ogun State Polytechnic
doing my A-Levels. I now decided that next time I come to London I was going to
stay for good. And so in 1985, I came to London
and I have been here ever since.
and did you school here at all?
to University here for a couple of years, worked for a while at the Westminster City Council in their Social
The first three years doing bits and bobs here and there. Yeah I went through
the whole gamut of waking up at 4 O’clock in the morning to the freezing cold
to go and clean offices. Up till today when I drive past Baker Street (cos some of those offices were on Baker Street) I remember those days of
cleaning cups, Cigarette ashtrays, and all the stuff. Not very pleasant but it
was something I did for extra cash. So
after all these jobs I thought that I had to go back to school. So I applied
and got an admission into Newcastle (Northumbria University) and did Accounting
for three years, and then into music thing. The first thing I realized after
studying accounting was that I don’t want to be an Accountant. Don’t ask me why
I did it. But life has its twists and turns. I worked in bars for about two years.
I was working in this bar pulling pints trying to work out what I really wanted
to do. This was when I met Paul, the guy who I started the
Lighthouse family with.
interested in music and he had a song he had written three to four years before
we met. He was also working in a bar. Our Path never crossed but we had mutual
friends who were DJs some of them
were studying Music Technology at the
University. I had done one or two songs with my DJ friends as part of their
course work or projects. This was when they realized I could sing. Paul at the same time was looking for a
vocalist to record. He has even put posters out. My DJ friends introduced us. I met up with Paul and he played the song and I sang to it. He fell in love with
it. It was a song called “Ocean Drive”. So we went in to the
studio and recorded it and to be honest, it was just a laugh.
like it and encouraged us to get something out of it. Paul sent copies to record companies. We had friends, deejays who
worked at Radio Stations and they played the song. To be honest, I never took
it serious because of my African and Nigerian background.
|Tunde Baiyewu….Blessed with a great Baritone Voice|
As much as I was
still thinking of what to do, singing was not on my list. I did not even know
how I will tell my mother, after studying all these years that I got a job as a
singer. Anyway, we started getting
positive response from record companies and publishers.
the guy that signed us. His name is Cohn Barlow. I’ve had his number for
weeks on my information board; I gave it to Paul to get in touch with
him. We met him in London. Unlike other A&R, Cohn Barlow was straight
to the point, “Listen guys I want to sign
you” and that was basically the genesis of the whole thing and that was how
it all began. It took a lot on my part to really see the potential of Lighthouse
Family. It has been a journey of self discovery really, to realize you
know what you are capable of doing.
|Tunde Baiyewu & Paul Tucker in one of their auspicious photo shots|
albums; the first one was Ocean Drive recorded in 1995, and
the second was Postcards from Heaven released in 1997 and the third one, is Whatever
Gets Up Through the Day
8 million albums
|Up: Tunde & Paul’s major hits, Ocean Drive & Postcards from Heaven. Below: Ovation Magazine Publisher, Chief Dele Momodu & Tunde Baiyewu|
Drive and Postcards from Heaven) the third one is just out so at the
moment it has just gone over a million. In the last eight years those two
records took Lighthouse family far
around the world?
United Kingdom, all over Europe, South America, Brazil, Argentina, South East Asia. We haven’t done much yet in Africa.
would you say has influenced you?
stuff I grew up with as a kid, Fela Kuti
and even now Femi Kuti. Most
importantly I remember as a kid that I loved Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey’s Eni ri Nkan hee…I’ve
always thought that this song is very spiritual and holds a lot of
it’s always been at the back of my mind, even something like Ebenezer
song. We would like to bring African
elements into what we do. There is a lot to explore in that area.
musician of all times or someone that you admire so much musically?
|Up: Tunde Baiyewu’s dinning room; Below; Tunde on the Guitar|
Redding, I love Marvin Gaye, James Taylor, Carole
King, Ebenezer Obey
without a shadow of doubt; King Sunny Ade’s stuff. I like Fela and
There also a guy from Brazil, Antonio Okalus Jobine, he wrote a
song Girl from Bahima. He has composed over 600 songs and that is the kind of
thing I am talking about; a lifetime of classic stuff.
really, well, I love bookshops. I am obsessed with bookshops. When I go into
bookshops, I go for African poetry
arts and music. I’m not a mad fiction person. I like things that you can apply.
I am getting back into African
Literature. I bought a simple book on learning Yoruba through names and meaning
as a way to understanding the Yoruba culture.
of squash and a bit of table tennis. I’m not a football freak. I watch it when
it is on. I don’t know who is at the top of the league and personally I do not
care. I like Martial Arts but not
crazy about Kung Fu. I think it is
good exercise especially for my work.
anything. I love African Food most
especially Iyan and Egusi
when I hang out with my friends, there is a particular one called “Mama Calabar”. I also like continental
food like sushi.
home especially those that look up to you as a role model?
|Tunde Baiyewu with Best Nigerian Friend, Femi Adeagbo|
thought about it and we have actually discussed it with the President (Then
President Obasanjo). It is about exposing our own talent to the international
scene. I have formed a management with some friends to that effect.
think I am ready yet. But at the end of the day when you do meet the right
person then it is fine. You know I will go ahead and do it but right now I’m
just following my heart and I don’t think I am in that position yet (He married
Tope Adeshina, a London based fashion buff in March, 2007)
will consider marrying anyone that I fall in love with.
moment most of my days are spent promoting and traveling and when I get back,
I become an indoor person. I do get to my friend’s house and hang out and go to
restaurants and from time to time, we will go out clubbing.
go to church but I believe in God strongly, but I don’t go to church, in fact,
my spiritual teaching is Eckanker. I
am sure a lot of Nigerians will be familiar with it.
you about God and love, about your life. All I can say is that it is important
to dream, you know, have goals and dreams. You must believe strongly enough in
them but also you should be prepared to work hard enough to achieve them.
Nothing comes easy and sometimes you may falter in terms of your not believing
strongly enough in your dreams or not being confident enough. Life acts as a
magnet that pulls you forward. For me, the only way is to be pure and honest in
newspapers, radio and television worldwide. This is probably your first
interview in the African media?
the first major feature by any African Magazine