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Ola Onabule United Kingdom
Ola Onabule is a British-Nigerian singer-songwriter whose unique blend of jazz, soul, pop and world music adeptly combines his African roots with his Western upbringing. He has performed at major stages and festivals worldwide, consolidating a reputation with global audiences over the past 20 years. His latest release is Point Less, released in August 2022.
Why do you celebrate International Jazz Day?
I think jazz is unique in its role as a conversational art form. To witness two or more musicians exchange thoughts and ideas in moments of spontaneous expression is always entertaining, but can also be very exciting and spiritually enriching. Jazz Day is a great platform for spreading the word about this beautiful and borderless conversation that is central to the genre.
“Jazz Day is a great platform for spreading the word about this beautiful and borderless conversation that is central to the genre.”
What does jazz mean to you personally? To your community and country?
To me jazz means the musical expression of the fullest range of human emotion, from happy to sad, good to bad, naughty to nice and way beyond.
In my community and country I think jazz is widely perceived as this thing that is the preserve of a musically intellectual elite, which is a huge shame because that is exactly what it isn’t. It’s just a multi-dialect language. With so many “flavours” of jazz out there, everyone can find “a jazz” that speaks to them.
How can jazz improve people’s lives?
Well, I described jazz earlier as spontaneous conversation and expression. In jazz I learned a powerful concept to share with the world: That if you speak, I will listen carefully and intently, then respond with sensitivity, or wit, or humour, or humanity, etc. It’s a philosophy that counters the message that is the dominant one in many lives across the world, that they have nothing to say that should be listened to, let alone responded to with fullest range of human emotion.