A lot of terms/adjectives are attached to the name of Sir Shina Peters. If one searches online, you’ll be sure to see terms like ‘veteran’, ‘legendary’ and ‘maestro’ attached to his name. permit me to include one more- Relevant. Let me tell you why.
The recent edition of Afropolitan Vibes (a monthly live concert series that invites artists of all genres to perform live alongside host band Bantu at Freedom Park’s Amphitheatre in Lagos.) held recently and even though I couldn’t attend the show in person, I had a colleague of mine attend. After the show was done, she came back with one major tale: Shina Peters gave an amazing performance. I was stunned. Shina Peters of all the acts who performed on the night gave the best performance? How? Isn’t he 58? Wouldn’t old age have caught up with him? These were some of the questions moving through my mind after me and my colleague were done talking about the show.
Still not satisfied with what I’d just heard, I went online to look for proof that SSP as he is fondly called had given a superb performance and boy, was I shocked! I saw video after video of him rolling back the years on the Afropolitan Vibes stage and to say I was impressed was an understatement. One of the commenters on a video I saw @OAUsingles who wrote via Twitter said: “For those of you that don’t know Sir Shina Peters.. He was the 2face, Wizkid and Davido your moms were tripping for in those days.” (sic) He couldn’t be more correct. Before there was Davido, Wizkid and Olamide, there was Shina Peters.
Sir Shina Peters is part of a golden generation of musicians who some say practised true music. This is because they made most of their music without the aid of software as against what is obtainable today. If you heard a trumpet on a Shina Peters record, be rest assured that it was a human playing the instrument and not a machine. Anytime they had a show, these musicians performed with members of their band in tow. Tales abound of the retinue of musicians that accompanied Shina and other musicians in his class (including King Sunny Ade, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Ebenezer Obey, Victor Olaiya, K1 The Ultimate and Surprisingly Femi Kuti) on their performances around the world.
There is talk that the re-emergence SSP is currently enjoying boils down to luck. This is complete balderdash! Songs from Shina’s debut album as a solo artiste Ace (Afro-Juju Series 1) released 27 years ago are still being sung by people born years later. Apart from this, the rate at which SSP tours and performs has barely reduced despite his growing age.
I remember hearing SSP on 2010’s ‘Like a bottle.’ The song which featured MI, Nneka, Bez, Kas & Ice Prince was used as the official song for Hennessey Artistry that year. At first I didn’t understand what he was doing on a song with musicians who were not on his level but he did not disappoint. He held his own and his verse is one of the best on the song.
There are a lot of lessons to be learnt from the career of SSP. Even though he has had a less than rosy relationship with certain parts of the media, he has remained a stellar musician and performer. His professionalism especially when dealing with colleagues many years younger than him is worthy of note.
With the number of scandals that have dogged a number of our current star musicians, you won’t blame me for finding it hard to imagine them in SSP’s shoes 30 something years later. Will we or our kids still be interested in hearing them then? Only time would tell.