His arrival in the musical space was like that of a meteor. By the time his chartbuster ‘Efenedo’ was released, Osayomore Joseph and His Ulele Power Sound Band, were already dazzling exponents of the Benin rich musical repertoire. He chunked out one hit after another to the delight of his teeming fans.
Born Joseph Osayomore Erhinmwioghae, Osayomore Joseph “set forth” very early in life on the path to musical stardom. He had his roots in a family of musical talent; his elder brother, Pullen’s extraordinary musical talent was extinguished by his painful early death.
Osayomore Joseph’s exploits in the Nigerian Army Band were a solid pedestal for his subsequent stardom. If his decision to exit the Army Band to go solo was career-changing; his action in relocating to Benin from Lagos was career-boosting. He immortalised this move with his ‘Igha ya s’ edo’ (I am going to Benin) which instantly caught the imagination of the Edo people. Osayomore Joseph or OJ to many of his fans and friends, took the Benin musical scene by storm. The tempo of his musical delivery was pulsating; his vocal was sonorous and the lyrics were as didactic as they were laced with wisdom. ‘Efewedo’, his evergreen hit was loaded with words of wisdom and moral code.
He was a cultural icon of the Benin genre; he delved into the rich Benin folklores to produce a number of evergreen. ‘Elikiba’ and ‘alab’evbo’ songs stood out of these.
Osayomore Joseph was also a crusader for social justice. He was on the side of the people at the height of the June 12 electoral mandate actualisation struggle. To broaden his audience base in this regard, he came up with admirable ‘liberation’ songs in the English language. Like others who were at the forefront of that struggle, he suffered some deprivations. That was to deter him.
He equally stood for Benin traditions and institutions. When in the 1980s, there were some needless local skirmishe he came out with ‘Oba no dey go transfer’ which became an instant hit.
Osayomore’s exit, barely a year after another musical Icon- Sir Victor Uwaifo, represents a huge loss to the Benin Kingdom and the music community.
Ugha community in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State, where he proudly hailed from has been devastated beyond description.
The consolation however for his immediate family, is that like all stars, his glowing legacy shall remain with us for a long time.
Dr Godwin Ehigiamusoe is the Founder of Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO)