Contrary to what many fans think, his generation of musicians can still hold their own in this era of digital music. Even at 67, Steve has a studio at home where he’s still cranking out contemporary music, mixed with timeless melodies of the ‘70s/80s, while waiting for the auspicious time to begin to release them.
An experienced artiste whose magical touches are etched in the works of the likes of Onyeka Onwenu, Christy Essien-Igbokwe, and Chris Okotie etc., Steve Black says he’s back fully on the scene after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the hiatus that has brought a global lull in the economy, including the entertainment industry.
In this interview, Steve shares his thoughts about issues dear to his heart. Enjoy it.
How do you intend to re-launch after years off the scene?
I’ve never been off the scene; I do play gigs with my band, The Steve Black Band. But when COVID-19 and its restrictions came, it gave me an opportunity to explore the world music market, so I changed my tactics from live performance to pushing my albums into the European music market and I’m still doing that. When the time is right again, I will start performances with my band.
With the COVID-19 restrictions still in force, the option for revenue for musicians is recorded music. But piracy is a major problem, even with that. What is the way out?
With technology in place, piracy doesn’t disturb as much as it used to; we now have control over our records sales and finance. Gone are the days when an artiste would go to Alaba International Market, Ojo, Lagos, or go to beg record companies to get released.
Are you giving any thought to foreign travel after COVID?
Yes, arrangements are in top gear for that, those buying my music in Europe are looking forward to seeing me live. So, positive arrangements are on-going at the moment.
Which musician has influenced you the most?
Quite a few artistes like Rare Earth, James Brown, Marcus Miller, and a few others have influenced me. But I love good musicians and there are lots of them. I’m not so crazy about the music of today’s Nigerian artistes because some sing rubbish; they don’t have a sense of good lyrics, but it is their generation. I’m glad that we still have our market, a lot of people out there do not want to listen to rubbish or bubble gum music, and they know good music when they hear it and those are our fans.
With the endless crisis in PMAN and the copyright societies, how can we achieve unity in the music industry?
It will be difficult to achieve unity in the music industry now, because those that have taken over don’t have any idea about the industry, unlike back in the days when mature musicians were in charge. If the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) is handed over to those jokers, it will become another PMAN before one year, but the maturity of Chief Tony Okoroji, the Chairman of COSON, and his team keeps COSON going. Okoroji has a very good team because he is mature.
When he left PMAN, everybody wanted to be president, but they were not mature to know that the PMAN presidency is not a lifetime thing; so if they were matured enough, they should have had patience with each other, instead of spending time in court and achieving nothing. Okoroji as president turned PMAN into a big brand, which was recognized by the society and what did they do after he left? They destroyed the brand and killed it because of greed and lack of ideas. They also had secretaries that had long throat for money, and they were collecting money from every Tom, Dick and Harry with the promise of making them PMAN president. Is the PMAN presidency for sale?
At 67, where do you see Steve Black five years from now?
Five years from now, I would be recording music in my studio, built inside my farm and thanks to the new technology, I would be selling my music to the entire world from my farm here in Ogun State. Once in a while, if the new normal will allow it, I will be playing concerts abroad. May God keep us alive!
What musical instruments do you play?
I’m a singer, but I play drums, congas, percussions and a little bit of keyboard.
List your three favourite albums.
My favourite albums are Village Boogie recorded and released in 1979; Happy Birthday To U recorded and released in 1982; Make The World recorded and released in 1986, and of course my very first record, a single titled, Fun In The Street. It was recorded in 1975.
How can we improve the music industry?
The only way to improve the music industry is to have the upcoming artistes learn to play instruments, learn to write good lyrics and learn to be more creative.
What is the impact of the Internet on music and how can you fit in, going forward?
The impact of Internet on music is very positive. With the Internet, you almost don’t need a record company because you can do by yourself what a recording company would have done for you, which enhances your production. You can release your music yourself, so it is a welcome development. I wish we had this in our days. But it is not late for us, the old school guys, we have experience that these young artistes of today don’t have; all we need do is combine our experience with the Internet and that’s what I’m doing. That’s why I’m still selling my records; the world is a single market for me.
Tell us about your wife and where you are from?
My beautiful wife is called Eunice, and she’s from Lagos State while I’m from Benin City, Edo State.
What’s your take on current stars like Davido, Burna Boy, and TuBaba etc?
My take on the current music stars like Davido, Burna Boy etc. is that they are very lucky, they are hardworking and serious, I only pray that they manage their stardom very well because it doesn’t last forever. TuBaba has paid his dues, he is more experienced than these young folks and I like what he’s doing. He should just keep on doing it. But I have my reservations for Naira Marley; all the other guys have positive influence on the youth except him.