An emerging Izon (Owigiri) musical star, Roland Francis, popularly known as B2S, which means “Born To Shine,” has revealed how his foray into doing Izon traditional songs brought the 34-year old musical maestro to the public glare. B2S’ ‘Tare Oge’ (Love Song) master piece has taken Izon traditional numbers to a more appreciable dimension. In this exclusive interview with JOHN ODHE in Yenagoa, the young vocalist revealed his sources of inspiration, mentor and role model.
When did you develop interest in music?
Music has been part of my life right from my childhood. I have been a musician, singing circular songs which took me as far as going to live with one of my mentor and Ijaw great son popularly known as Timaya in Lagos. That was six years ago, and I did a collaboration with Orisefemi in Lagos before I came back to Bayelsa. When I returned to Bayelsa, l was like playing with the guitar, singing. One day, l met Alfred Izonebi (Junior King Robert Ebizimo) and he said “wow! I love your voice, can you please work with me?” And I said “me? Work with you? I don’t do Owigiri songs but I love singing them.” But he insisted and said “with the voice l am hearing, if you could accept to be my backup singer, l will be very happy. Even if it takes two years, l wouldn’t mind.” I then decided to give it a trial. I worked with him for one full year. Based on the plan of God upon my life, l had to leave Izonebi. Before I left, I had already gained experience in Izon music because I learned so many things from him during the period of my stay with him. So, I decided to compose my personal Owigiri songs.
This popular Tare Oge song that I did came when my brother who plays football abroad was to get married to his wife. So, I said to myself, “now that I don’t have money, what will l offer to my brother? The thought now came that I should use my voice to do a song to celebrate my brother’s marriage. That’s how the song came about. It took me just one day. I went to the house and said “God, l want to do a song for my brother and it is not in my normal, secular platform. I want to do an Owigiri dance all and I want to do what no man has done before in Owigiri. I need a different inspiration entirely.” That was my communication with God. Normally, when I am doing my songs, l compose during the midnight hours when everywhere has become silent. So, I woke up around 12am and started meditating, and the chorus came. When the chorus came, l recorded it. Immediately I finished composing the song, I had to call Mike Ekiye to come and assess it. When he played it, he said the song was good. On the day of the marriage, l now presented the song to the couple, and that was how God announced me to the world. People started inviting me to marriages and other occasions. I now did some promo on the song on Facebook. Today, the song is taking me to everywhere. I tell you, because of this ‘Tare Oge’ (Love Party) song, I don’t rest. In fact, I played throughout the whole of last December. It’s a gift from God and I am glorifying God for it. It is God that gave me the inspiration, nothing else. Apart from that song, other beautiful songs are still following.
When do you intend to release another wonderful piece?
(Smiles and continues) That’s going to be in a very short period of time. Already I have recorded some beautiful songs that are set to be released. I am communicating with Mike Ekiye on the right time to push them out to the market. Very soon, another hit track from the Tare Oge Dance Band will hit the music industry.
What is your take on the promotion of Izon culture through music?
I believe that culture is very important. When I was into secular music, people knew me but not up to this present standard. I have recorded almost thirty something secular musical tracks to my credit. The songs are good, people love them, l went to shows but I wasn’t popular. But went l decided to come back home to do my own traditional music to add value to my culture and language, l now realize what God has made me for. As we speak, even people in the United States of America and beyond are now my strong fans, playing and dancing to my music. Before now, nobody knew me there. I receive calls from the UK, London, Island because of this traditional songs.
Our Ijaw people should value our own culture. The Igbos do value their culture. The Yorubas value their culture. If you see the Olumides, they do their traditional songs. The Flavors, they do come back to do their Igbo songs. So, I want our Ijaw Nation to value our Izon songs because Izon songs are now trending seriously. The day l went to Lagos to perform in a marriage ceremony, l saw many Ijaw people happily dancing to this very song. When they realized that I was the one that played the music, the way they embraced me was marvelous. Over here, we have many Ijaw people but the way we are appreciating our Izon music is not that much. It is good for us to value our culture.
Who is your mentor and role model?
King Robert Ebizimo of blessed memory is my mentor because when l started playing music, l listened to more of his songs. It really inspired me a lot because his music carries a lot of words and messages. Apart from King Robert, I also listen to Jim Rex Lawson, Barrister Smooth, Izonebi and any music that is good. Those are the people l love listening to their songs and playing their music on stage.
What brand of secular music were you into before you found your bearing in Izon songs?
Actually, I do R and B and I also do Pop and those things are still in me. Sometimes when we go for burials; when it gets to the last hours of the occasion, organizers of the event would demand that we play those secular songs and you find out that the audience do appreciate them.
Have you done any secular musical album before you delved into your traditional songs?
Yes. If you go to the Google, you will see B2S featuring Orisefemi, you can see a lot of my tracks.
In the face of the current wave of criminally minded youths who do not believe in talent and hard work, what would be your advice?
The youths should learn to be focus. My father’s immediate younger brother, Perebigbo, is a great musician that I respect a lot. I started loving music when I started dancing to his songs when I was around eight to ten years of age. From that point I started showing so much love and passion for music even though my father was also encouraging me to not lose focus on