Country hard o (My country is hard)… Olaiya sings about the difficulties in his homeland and blows a gorgeous muted trumpet that tugs at the heart strings on this majestic slice of Nigerian high life.
Victor Abimbola Olaiya (born in 1931), the great trumpeter and bandleader, joined Bobby Benson’s Jam Session Orchestra where he rose through the ranks to lead Benson’s second band, Alfa’s Carnival Group, before leaving in 1954 to form his own band, the Cool Cats. Olaiya played for Queen Elizabeth when she visited in 1956, then at the state balls celebrating Nigeria’s independence in 1960 and, in 1963, when Nigeria became a republic, he shared the stage with Louis Armstrong.
The many influential Nigerian musicians Olaiya’s bands spawned and nurtured included Sir Victor Uwaifo, John Akintola (aka Roy Chicago), Peter King, Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson, Eddie Okonta, Agun Norris (of Empire Orchestra), Celestine Ukwu (of Anambra), Bala Miller, AC Arinze, Osita Osadebe and most famous of all, Sunny Ade, Tony Allen and Fela Kuti.
“They thought I moved highlife music out of the ordinary. Then, it was believed that my highlife was a little bit out of this world, beyond explanation. This was why Alhaji Alade Odunewu of the Daily Times styled me The Evil Genius of Highlife.”
He remains a living legend and is still going strong performing regularly at his Stadium Hotel in Lagos.