TRB: Glad to have you with us, can you tell us about your personality?
BB: My name is BB Blues, originally called Bievenue which was then truncated to “BB” as I am known by now. I was born in the former francophone colony of Cameroon where I learnt and started playing blues at age 12, I started playing and singing the blues especially traditional blues along with the Mississippi blues from my father Mr. Ziggy Laurent a famous blues player across central Africa now of blessed memory.
“Blues” came about when I started playing for a club in Douala city of Cameroon called the “Vieux Nègre” (Old Nigger) jazz club, famous at the time, when I went in search of a job at the club, the owner a British man told me since I play the blues then he might as well call me BB Blues then i took the up the name around 1984. I am an anthropologist and musicologist by profession, but I am more passionate about music.
TRB : How has music postively influenced your life, specifically the blues?
BB : Based on my study of musicology, I identify music is the background knowledge that proves there is a link within the human soul and the vibration, because we have vibration in our tone when we speak, our heartbeat on the other hand give us the tempo, so to me our heartbeating tempo and the tone we possess in our voice is the philoshy of music for me thus making music therapeutic, hence people call me a blues doctor, they believe i use my art to cure them.
TRB : Your voyage in life afforded you the opportunity of meeting and playing music with the Legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti, can you tell us about your Fela Experience?
BB : I met Fela Kuti in 1991, when I went to study in university of Ibadan-Nigeria, i went to do a jam session at Fela’s shrine one day and said he loved my guitar playing and my way of making music, I played with Fela for 3 and half years between 1991 and 1994, studied what is called the Juju Music, the Juju Music is largely misunderstood to be fetish and evil of sorts on the contrary Juju Music is a medication, it is a type of music that we use to cure people’s problems. Juju in Yoruba language means the blend of different things, the music of Fela Kuti is Afrobeats music which was made up of classical music, jazz, blues, high-life music and Yoruba music which is largely traditional music. In near by Benin, Burkina Faso, cameroon and Niger have a different meaning to juju which means fetish. To be clear if you are listening to music that doesn’t cure your soul is not juju music.
TRB : What can be done to get the current generation into the Blues and Juju music, since our main stream music is predominantly western music ?
BB : The discrepancies i have identified travelling across the francophone and anglophone states in Africa, the french-speaking countries embrace blues alot easier than the anglophone states, which is crazy. Going on tour around the 54 countries on the African continent i realise that when i get on english platform i have the struggle of getting alot of people to know what time it is, francophone performances are alot different, right from the first track I play people readily appreciate the music and start jamming to the blues. I don’t know if it is fundamentally an effect from the colonial master’s or our failure to infuse the traditional African vibes, the blues and its elements into our educational system. For the youth to be able to get into the jazz and blues vibes I think they need to listen more to the old-school African music and stay away from temporary music, when you listen to the likes of C.K Mann, Nana Ampadu, D.K Yamoah, Papa Yankson or Pat Thomas their records of 1978 are still relevant today because they were live performance recording, I would suggest all the youth who want to make music for the future should go on live performances to record.
TRB : Lastly the awesome and distinct vibes You, Fela, Nana Ampadu put out there how can the present generations tap into it?
BB : It is just a matter of meditation, always strive to be yourself and all the youth should do well to get into live performance, this is a way by which we can preserve our music.
TRB : Thank you for the opportunity.
BB : You are welcome.