Nigeria Reggae star , Ben Osa Bush aka Ben Priest known for his songs “Mr Freeman”, “Strangers”, “Oh Mama” and “Tribute to Lucky Dube” and a Honouree of the Obaland Royal Awards 2018 for Nigeria Best Reggae Songwriter. He is a notable band mate to leading late iconic reggae legend, Lucky Dube’s. He speaks to with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM after receiving the most prestigious monarch’s award in Africa “Obaland Royal Award”.
Tell us about your background…
I am a Reggae artiste originally from Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State, Southern Nigeria. But I would prefer to say I’m an African. My father is a pastor and my mom was a school head teacher, both retired now.
I never acquired a formal education. Academic wizardry has never been my style. All about my scope of knowledge comes from life’s lessons and experiences as I socialize. I have been able to educate myself by deep researches i make. To me, certificates and degrees hung on the wall don’t always show one’s level of education.
What stirred your interest in the music industry?
I have always been drawn to music since back in the days of my youth, as much as incan remember. It’s been so much a part of me that one time that when my parents would get me is clothes to wear Christmas, I was the only one amongst my other brethren that would rather prefer being bought a an acoustic guitar as my Christmas gift. Nothing else mattered to me but music. Against all odds, I took to music. Besides, I find much happiness in music and see it as the perfect vehicle to convey my message to people.
How has the journey been so far?
So far so good. Give thanks. Not been an easy road amidst obstacles and challenges. I’m not really where I wanna be yet but I’m making progress with tangible results due to hardworking and the grace of Jah. I am grateful to all fans who put smile on my face, it wasn’t easy selling Physical Cd’s, mostly on this errand of digital downloads, I think 400,000 sold units wasn’t child’s play , thanks to all Africa merchants who turned my dreams to reality, I will always be loyal.
How would you describe the music industry when you started?
Well I think the music industry back when I got into it, there were not many artistes then. There were also very few radio and television stations available then. And there was not much competition back then. Sometimes there could be about only 5 main artistes being celebrated, unlike it is now.
As music legend, where do you think Nigerian artistes should pay attention?
My concern is the message. What is music without message. I cool with groovy beats and all of the danceable hits. But Nigerian artistes should make message as key priority. When I say message I mean positive and meaningful messages that people can learn from. Enough of the garbage i keep hearing about nudity and sexual activities in almost every song. There’s so much things to sing about in a country under digress and recession. Music is supposed to be a medium to educate, inform and, of course, entertain.
Are you still doing music, and how do you handle competition, given the fact that there are lots of talented artistes I’m the country?
Well to me I believe in everyone’s individual uniqueness in their various abilities. Music is so vast that no two artistes can be exactly the same in their excellence. I believe given the right platform for any artiste to operate, they are bound to do well no matter the level of competition. Jah made it so.
What personal traits have helped you become a successful artiste?
Well I can say my voice, first of all. I listen to myself and I also hear people say “wow, great voice” I can also say I got the confidence and personality of a potential superstar and this is felt everywhere I go to. Above all, Jah has enabled me in more ways than one.
What are your other traits?
Besides music, I’m very good with fine arts and the ability of making portraits and professional sign writings and paintings in general. But the musical side of me seem to get hold of me more.
What are you working on presently?
Much work to do at the moment. For a while now I have been working on video shoot of songs from my brand new album, “Jah Live” First video from the same album titled “I Wanna” critical acclaimed, is been noisy all over Africa, now is been play listed on Trace Africa 10 Sound system. Still on with more videos soon come
Any plan of relocating to Nigeria soon?
Yea I’m still considering that but I’m still focused on promoting my new songs all all over Africa and Europe. The success weather of the ongoing promo and videos would determine where I would be based afterwards
How did you come about your stage name?
My stage name is Ben Priest. Most of my fans had always called me “Priest” much because my kind of songs sound more spiritual with deep messages that only the mature minds can digest the deeper meanings from them. I gave it a thought and had to add Priest to my original name, Ben. The name stuck with the passage of time and boom… Ben Priest.
What’s your advice to upcoming reggae artistes?
To all upcoming artistes, I say it’s not always gonna be easy. But never give up. Believe in what you’re doing. Trust in Jah and always be firm with clean hearts. Some day, you’re gonna make to the hills.
Congratulations for the OBALAND ROYAL AWARDS 2018,received. What is the difference between other awards and the newly received awards?
Honestly I feel even more humbled to be honored with this one coming from royalty. It makes the big difference for me. I feel so special and happy. And to my fellow awardees like Sizzla Kalonji, Seun Kuti, Winning Jah, Daddy Fresh, Queen Ifrika and many more, I say respect large to you all. Blessed Love!
After your hit song “YES You CAN ” are you willing to do similar songs?
A hit always worth listening to over and over again. So yea I intend recording more of similar hits in the near future and much better. Blessed.
Any more we need to know?
Nothing much, kindly allow me extend my condolence to Empress Adesuwa Omoyemwen Obatta, the Ceo of E.R.F. Inc, on behalf of all Nigeria Reggae artistes, as her lovely son Romeo Chike, a.ka small Patoranky, just passed away, may the most high king revive her and family.
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