Life Beer is salvaging the dearth of female highlife musicians through Hi-Life Fest
Highlife music, a genre popularly known for its melodious sounds and storytelling elements, originated in Ghana in the 19th century, and has over the years, transcended nations and generations, sharing the rich cultural heritage of the Africans. Highlife music is now sung worldwide and has over time been infused with other genres such as Hip-Hop, Afrobeat and Rock. In Nigeria, the Igbo people of the East have wholly embraced the music genre so much that the unique sound is not a scarce commodity in homes, at weddings, funerals, festivals and other celebrations. Notable musicians like Flavour and Phyno amongst others, have developed a niche using a fusion of highlife to create chart-topping masterpieces that are globally loved. However, as highlife music continues to develop, there is a notable dearth of female musicians embodying the music genre compared to their male counterparts. Highlife Music: More Than A Sound Chief Osita Osadebe Veteran Nigerian Highlife Musician With melodious sounds and vibrant beats, highlife music has served as a platform for musicians to share their stories. This is evident in well-known songs like Chief Osita Osadebe's "Osondi Owendi," which explores the diverse preferences of individuals, and Oliver de Coque's "Money Identity," which delves into the relationship between identity and wealth. Other musicians have used the genre to share love stories, as seen in Prince Nico Mbarga's classic hit "Sweet Mother," a heartfelt tribute, expressing love for his mother. Through storytelling, highlife musicians capture the essence of everyday life, emotions, and experiences. This entertains listeners and serves as a means of cultural preservation. Because of highlife music, history is shared and can never be forgotten. Our Iconic Female Figures... Onyeka Onwenu Veteran Nigerian singer/songwriter Highlife music has been greatly enriched by the contributions of talented female musicians who have left a mark in the industry. Legendary female artists such as Christy Essien Igbokwe, Nelly Uchendu, Queen Theresa Onuorah, and the elegant stallion Onyeka Onwenu stand out as iconic figures, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations of female highlife musicians. These women addressed social issues, using their songs as a means to empower other women and drive positive change. To them, it was more than music and songs, it was about educating, empowering and inspiring. While they faced numerous challenges, they overcame societal expectations and excelled in the industry. Through their successes, they serve as sources of inspiration, showing that women have an essential role to play in the highlife music industry. Unfortunately, the representation of women in highlife music has declined, leading to a shortage of female voices in the industry. The Missing Link The reason for this dearth might not be far-fetched. The Nigerian music industry is very competitive. In fact, it is considered one of the most competitive music industries in Africa. Compared to their male counterparts, the female folks do not necessarily get as much support - financially or from friends and family. Many of them are negatively profiled. Most of them are being seen as inferior to male musicians. Female musicians scrounge for chances, some at the expense of their duties as mother and wife. The major missing link over the years has been a platform to express themselves musically, an avenue to show the world how gifted they are, and a grooming ground to hone their skills. Given the chance, more female talents will take over the music space in very little time. Hi-Life Fest: An Avenue for Change In a bid to encourage female participation in the highlife music space, reduce the gender disparity, and create a level playing ground for talents in the East, Nigerian Breweries Eastern regional brand, Life Continental Lager Beer annually provides a platform to groom talents for a successful career and global relevance. This talent show celebrates the essence of highlife music and contributes to the growth of the next generation of highlife musicians. Hi-Life Fest serves as an avenue for change by empowering aspiring female artists, amplifying their voices, and nurturing their talents as they develop in the highlife music space. Since its inception, Hi-Life Fest has had six female talents involved in the competition, and the impact of these women on the show cannot be overemphasised, as they have warmed their way into hearts and homes and inspired several individuals, male and female alike to take their chance at being the next highlife superstar. By grooming these women, Hi-Life Fest fosters an inclusive environment where male and female talents can thrive and contribute to the industry. The show provides them with an unforgettable experience, opening doors to a promising future in the industry. Over the past five years of the show, these women honed their skills and artistic abilities to rise among thousands of registered contestants to be among the top eight contestants year after year. Life Beer's commitment to empowering highlife music shows the brands unwavering support of the cultural values and development of the Igbo people. As the Senior Brand Manager, Oluyemi Ekundayo said, Life Beer is more than just a beer; it is a catalyst for progress and a symbol of the persistent and hardworking spirit of the Igbo people. The brand envisions a future where the rich heritage of the Igbo people is celebrated unapologetically in every part of the world, and young talents are provided with opportunities to thrive and succeed.