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4.13.2012

Feature Fridays: Clef Nite

A few weeks ago, I saw the amazing Nneka in concert at the Gramercy Theatre.  She featured two fantastic musical guests including Bajah & The Dry Eye Crew and Clef Nite.  Clef is a Nigerian musician with mega talent, a clear vision, a genuine demeanor and a very charming personality.  He dazzled the audience with his soft voice and acoustic sounds on numerous tracks. He left everyone wanting more, especially after the crown experienced a special moment.  During one of Clef's songs, he asked the audience to repeat the chorus.  We did so for minutes on end and it definitely created a tangible serene and unified mood.  It was transformative. Clef has performed with some major acts including Nigerian superstar duo, P Square, as a guitarist.  He also just got off tour with Nneka.  Clef Nite is a singer, a guitarist, and a music producer.  He is also the originator of a new musical genre called "Afrohighlife", a re-modified form of Highlife.  I was lucky to touch base with Clef after the show and now have him featured. I present to you, Clef Nite.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Victor Chukwunonso Nite. I was born in Nigeria and I grew up in a musical family. I started playing the drums at a very young age. And eventually moved on to other instruments.  I studied music in the University Of Nigeria and came out as a music producer. I had many evolving stages of my musical life that actually got me to where I am now. And I am hoping to do more.

How did you get into music Clef? Who are your influences?
I can't really say for sure the exact age age I started doing music. All I could remember is that I grew into senses seeing myself doing music. About influences, I have had lot of them as my music kept on evolving to what it is today. But I would say my some of my major influences are Koffi Olomide, Shakira, Fela Kuti, Gloria Estefan. 

How does your cultural identity manifest itself in your work?
I think my cultural identity shows a lot more in the style of my music. Musicians from my tribe (Eastern Part of Nigeria) are always known to be rhythmic and this has to do with having varieties of drum patterns. Talking about in my music, I try to fuse in many elements of musical styles from East Africa and abroad. I also have a lot of syncopation in my music You don't get that a lot today in most of the songs out there.

You are credited with inventing a whole new type of sound called AfroHighlife, which blends traditional drumming, African musical styles from both coasts, as well as soul. Brilliant. What was your inspiration for doing this? Why was it important for you to create this new genre?
I saw myself as a talented musician who is going to be successful, a long time ago. But on the other hand, there are a thousand and one other talented musicians just like me struggling to do what I am doing too. So I paused for a while and said to myself, "Do not join a band of yellow flowers cos you wont be seen, instead, make yourself red so you will be noticed" Since then I started looking for a way to distinguish myself from every other person out there. So that lead me into going back home to explore the advantages of the unique music abilities God has blessed our tribe with. So that was so important for me because it depicts the real me that you can never get in any other person or music out there.

You've performed all over the world. Where is the BEST/LIVEST audience?
I think the best live audience so far has been in New York. I had a lot of synergy from the audience. They kept on singing my chorus and that meant a lot to me.



You've worked with some amazing acts, particularly from the African continent, including Nigerian superstars PSquare. Right now you are currently touring with musical powerhouse and social activist Nneka. Clearly, this is quite a jump in terms of musical genre. How did you get to where you are now?
Yea I know! Sometimes it amazes me too how I came this far in a short period of time. But I have known myself to be someone who always wanted to work and serve from the depth of my heart. I really served this people with all my might and I think that's what is paying me back now.

Music is powerful and has the ability to spread messages to vast audiences. What message does your music have?
The message in my music is focused on promoting a moral life style. Many things around us today are being done the wrong way. So I am all about bringing all these issues to everybody's awareness.



My readers are interested in maintaining balance through the arts, culture, and holistic healing. How do you maintain balance Clef?Well my music has a message for every aspect of the realities of life you can refer to. All you need to do is take the one that connects to you and relate to it. God is still my driving force for all these.
How can we contact you and stay up to date with your work?
Look out for my new website clefnite.com. You can listen to my songs on www.reverbnation.com/clefnite or on www.lastfm.com. You can also follow me on twitter @clefnite to share my views of life in regards to music and our environment.


Anything else you want to tell us?

I will leave us all with this word. Always put God first in everything you do. Work with all your might and put a dear ears to distractions. Focus more on the things you can do than the ones you cannot.


Thanks Clef!

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Feature Fridays highlights people of color (with a special focus on those of Haitian descent) and organizations who are doing meaningful wok everywhere from the arts, music, and fashion, to politics, business and the non-profit world. 
If you are interested in being featured on this blog, see the Contribute page!
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N
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