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Ogranya: Africa’s Neo Soul Artiste

Ogranya Jable Osai fondly called ‘Ogranya’ is a 29-year-old singer-songwriter from Rivers State, Nigeria. When he is not singing or writing captivating lyrics, he is writing screenplay for movies or producing films. 

With music being a part of his life growing up, it was easy for him to segue into creating music after listening and taking it all in during his childhood. For Ogranya, the defining walls of music have collapsed but if he had to step back in them, he would describe his art as a fusion of Afro-soul, R&B, and Alternative music. 

This art, he says,  is influenced by God and the idea of divinity/eternity, family, romance, and purpose. He has great admiration for Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, King Sunny Ade, John Mayer, Salif Keita, Rex Lawson, Sade Adu, Jay Z, Asa, and Duncan Mighty. 

Drawing inspiration from these people amongst others, it comes as no surprise that his sound is as diverse as it has grown to be. 

Ogranya made music first in 2012. However, he had been creating music many years before that. Since the release of serenade in 2018, many of his listeners and Ograyna himself can attest to his growth. 

“ I’m less delusional about how music and how the industry of it works. We tend to come into this thing relatively blind. I’ve also spent time between then and now living/writing/recording/performing in Rivers State, Abuja, Lagos, Accra and this has immensely impacted the development of my craft and character”.

Being an independent artist, reach is one of the challenges he faces. “With a label”, he explains, “the structure to put you in everyone’s faces is right there at your disposal”.

Talk about trajectory since he started.

His latest EP Festival of the Sun took about 5 months to be completed. During that time, he and his team had to make the switch from putting out music once every week for Project 52 to focusing on putting out a body of work.

“Ironically, the latter was more tasking than the former. With Project52, I didn’t have to worry too much about the cohesiveness of the drops or how tactile the releases would be, color scheme of art works, song theme and all that. The best part was that we made more songs than we needed so this provided us with a host of songs to deliberate over when putting the tape together. However, it was still a difficult transition having to get into that space where you have to pay even more attention to every detail and make the entire listen seamless. We reviewed the tracklist at least 30 times before finalizing”

The creation process was a particularly interesting one; from writing the first song  ‘A good time’ where he sings about a definitive moment in his life to ‘Abeg’ which he describes as the most difficult song to create. In the end, feeling child-like excitement after seeing the tracklist announcement video made the process a worthwhile journey for him.

“When my manager sent me the tracklist announcement video, I hadn’t  been that excited about anything related to music in a very long time. Had me smiling like a little kid for a good ten minutes straight”

On how he decided on the Title for the EP, he explains that it happened unexpectedly and was inspired at a time when life felt like a movie.

 “It was one of those creative moments. I was in Abuja at the time and people had started returning from overseas for the ‘summertime’ festivities. It also didn’t seem right that we called it the summer simply because Geography lessons in secondary school taught us that we only have rainy and dry seasons here. Amidst it all, I was recording songs, meeting old friends, making new ones, having fun and if you know what Abuja used to be like at that time of the year, you know it felt like a movie. In dramatic fashion, I felt the need to capture the entire spectacle with a name that’d communicate the experience as poetically as possible and ‘Festival of the Sun’ popped in my mind. It made perfect sense”

With Festival of the sun and all of his other projects, he hopes to cross into new terrains, sonically, geographically, and otherwise while growing in reach and recognition.  “My sound encapsulates much more than melancholic music and I’d like to show this. For the listeners, I’m hoping they’d embrace me in all the different ways I come at them as well as find themselves in these stories I try to tell.”

Listen to Festival of the Sun here. 

Rose Komolafe
Rose Komolafe