Africa-Press – Gambia. Albert Ozurumba aka Pacino Royale, is a reggae artiste, known for his songs in English and French. A Nigerian artiste based in Ivory Coast, he began his musical career while at the University of Port Harcourt in the 1980s where Daniel Wilson, one of Nigeria’s foremost reggae crooners indoctrinated him into the groove. In this chat with EDOZIE UDEZE, Ozurumba goes down memory lane.
ALBERT Ozurumba is a reggae crooner, composer and entertainer. He took to music in the 1980s when the reggae music genre was the in-thing in Nigeria. At the Rivers State College of Education and later at the University of Port Harcourt where he had his education, his encounter with Daniel Wilson one of the reggae raves of the 1980s’ influenced him a lot to go full time into entertainment. Even though he set out to study Fine and Applied Arts, and remain a dancer, that momentous encounter with Daniel Wilson changed a lot of things in his life. Consequently, he changed from Fine Arts to Theatre Arts. Theatre Arts, according to him was to fully prepare him to take his rightful place in the music arena. “Oh yes”, he said in an encounter with this reporter, “the late Professor Ola Rotimi who taught me at Uniport also contributed to my right choice of going into the art of entertainment”.Now, living, working and shuttling between Nigeria and Ivory Coast, Ozurumba takes his time to compose his lyrics. Married to an Ivorian lady, he thinks reggae is the best thing that has happened to him and to his career. “Yes, my name is Albert Ozurumba, aka Pacino Royale, a reggae artiste. I am into reggae, a singer based in Nigeria and Ivory Coast. Actually I studied a bit of Fine Arts. I had an NCE in it before I swung over to Theatre Arts. This was at the Rivers State College of Education. My career in music started in 1986 when I was in Uniport to study Theatre Arts under Professor Ola Rotimi”.
Then he met Daniel Wilson. “Yes, I met my friend Daniel Wilson. He was preparing for his debut album, titled Daniel in the lion’s den. Actually he introduced me to reggae music because I started out as a dancer. As at 1983, I was already well into dancing as a professional. I was the second runner-up all over Nigeria. The following year, it was changed to Ajohn Player dancing competition. So, Daniel Wilson was the one who put me into music because we shared the same room at Uniport, where we were undergraduates”.
Then the more Pacino listened to Wilson’s cassettes, the more he was enthralled to go fully into the reggae blues. “So, gradually I got into it, was carried away by the sentiments of the reggae stuff. Even Wilson wanted a lot of his guys to go into music, reggae precisely with him”. Those moments, those years, the likes of Dizzy K. Falola, Alex Zitto, Edmund Spice and others were in vogue in Nigeria. So, then reggae ruled the waves and most artistes then wanted to be like Peter Touch or Bob Marley or Eric Donalson or Jimmy Cliff. Then on and on, the beat went on as Nigerians fell in love with reggae. The vibes were infectious, ever reverberating with new lyrics that penetrated the soul of music lovers and fun seekers.
Ozurumba hit the nail on the head as he says, “In those days you organized shows by yourself. So, you have to have opening acts, so we used to do that for Wilson. I did that with other artistes. As it were, I didn’t chose reggae rather reggae chose me. It was like that. That was the most preferred kind of music in those days. Reggae boomed, it ruled the world. All the big stars in Nigeria then sang reggae. Even Sunny Okosun started out as a reggae singer. Even in churches then reggae beats were all over. We grew up listening to Jimmy Cliff, 90 Degrees Inclusive, they all moved us. We had always had that reggae foundation”.
At a point however what we call old school today like Shalamar, Brass Construction and others took over. “That was how we got into the dancing, the blues. For now, yes, reggae has taken me far in life. This is so because I’ve spent so much time to get into the exposure, into the real, real vibes. Then reggae was for the intellectuals, for the mature mind, reserved people. The lyrics were deep, meditative and far-reaching. Some other guys whose fathers loved reggae were lured into it by their parents. But today, reggae is no more the vogue, it is only a few people who still love it in Nigeria”.