He was born Olaolu Tokunbo Akigbogun in 1984 in East Dulwich, South London and stage-named ‘GT the Guitar Man’, but had to follow his family two years later, when they moved back to Nigeria. He had no inkling of what destiny had in store for him.
He attended Community Primary School, Mile 2, Lagos before going on to the Mayflower Secondary School Ikenne, Ogun State. His mother and his older sister, Opeyemi, raised him. He stumbled upon music when he turned 11. The initials ‘GT’ are derived from Gbemiro and Tokunbo. The reserved artiste is the Chief Executive Officer of Ember records, a label he co-owns with blogger and songwriter Onyew Bikwe, formed after he stormed off Storm Records sometime in 2010.
Asked to describe his journey into music, GT laughed as he told E-Train that he moved from being “a fan to becoming an actor” by clinging to the radio as a child.
“My father collected records of all sorts, ranging from Nigerian to western music and my sister was a chorister. She would bring home music pieces from church to rehearse with me. It happened often, we were likened to Bebe and Cece Winans.”
Unfortunately for GT, music wasn’t on his sister’s map of the journey through life, though he had caught the bug. Thjus, he set out alone, joining several gospel groups singing in churches, going for competitions and winning a few. He later joined a group called “The Guitar” and it was during one of their performances that they got the attention of comedian Omobaba Number One who got them a slot to perform at the Night of a thousand laughs. He later got in touch with Dare Art-Alade, who introduced him to Obi Asika, the CEO of Storm Records, before the record label Boss Records signed them on. GT has a lot of good things to say about Storm Records. He described his five- year stint with Storm 360 as a “turning point and a blessing”.
GT’s music is inspired by everyday life.
“I only write about what I can see. Things happening around me inspire me. I can make up a fictional story just by observing my surroundings and putting the situation into words that eventually translate to music. This way, for me, makes the music easy to relate to. I wouldn’t say I am a social crusader but I have a tendency to speak out. The only difference is that I sing about it, as opposed to talking like a speaker would.
“My music is Afro Rock Soul, a fusion of my guitar, my style and my lyrics – these three elements combine to make my music what it is”.
In relation to the challenges of entertainment in Nigeria, GT, like many an artiste is bothered by the structure which is out of place and doesn’t necessarily cater for every genre. He states that club-goers and party people make up the majority of people who patronise Nigerian music and would rather listen off the stereo than buy a CD. Even when they do, it is purchased at a ludicrously small fee. The minority who do appreciate good music hardly ever get to find the product to buy, since distribution is a fundamental issue artistes like him face.
GT started playing the guitar in 2003 through self-help from books and music literature a certain John Akambi lent him. He practiced on a guitar he borrowed from another friend Samuel Ekpeyong, who helped him because he saw his desperate desire to learn even after a first refusal to tutor him. When asked why he picked the guitar of all the musical instruments, he said, “it is an instrument I can play without depending on electricity supply”.
GT officially released an album in November 2009, and he described his experience in the music industry so far as “crazy and thrilling”, having worked with an interesting bunch at Storm 360, as well as collaborated with notable artistes like Naeto C, Sasha, late rapper Da Grin, General Pype and Dare Art-Alade. Early influences from King Sunny Ade and Fela Anikulapo Kuti shaped his love for Nigerian rhythm and 2Face Idibia cuts it for contemporary African music which he has been able to blend into. Currently working on a yet–to-be titled sophomore album, GT is exploring new angles to his sound on an EP that would first be promoted on a tour which he would embark on with his seven-man band. He has graced the stage at various events and delivered electrifying performances for MNET’s ‘Face of Africa’; Glo’s ‘G-Bam show’; Samsung’s ‘Valentine’s day’ Concert and AIT’s ‘Valentine’s Day’ concert; Asa: Live in Lagos; MTN Motivational Seminar with Les Brown; Calabar Festival and Easter Ball; Nokia’s First Chance; Rhythm Unplugged; Silverbird: Man of the Year Award and the ‘Big Brother Africa’ Eviction Party, to name a few.
The Hip Hop World Awards and Channel O awards nominee told E-Train that his greatest achievements are the fans, people who appreciate his music.
“Once, a young lady came all the way from Ilorin to Lagos just to see a show I was to perform at but missed it, because she got into town a little late. She got the opportunity for a personal performance.”
GT is addicted to his blackberry, because “It is romantically linked to someone at the moment. That said, my love life is private”. He has a lot of respect for pioneers Kenny Ogungbe, Obi Asika and OJB Jezreel, people he described as having the “foresight to set the pace for what has become today’s Nigerian music industry” and looks forward to “the day when CDs will sell at better rates, artistes will earn off their sweat and Alaba will be history”.
GT enjoys music from Nigerian female artiste Tiwa Savage and is a big fan of 2Face Idibia.
His best moment is when he is on stage with his band.