Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Stampede For Uncle Steve On June 29

THE Committee for Relevant Art will hold a special art stampede for Steve Rhodes on Sunday June 29 at the National Theatre. It is not yet clear if the Steve Rhodes Orchestra will perform, but the plan is to have a range of personalities who have passed through the grandmaster, including alumni of the Steve Rhodes Voices and artists who have worked directly with him, to talk about how he rubbed off on them. The stampede is scheduled to start at 1pm, run for five hours, with musical interludes and a screening of Femi Odugbemi's documentary. The audience will retire to O'Jez Restaurant at the National Stadium for a huge highlife party for the departed patriarch. "CORA doesn't do art stampedes for individuals anymore, but this is special," says Jahman Anikulapo, the Foundation's programme chairman. "The most we do for individuals is an Arthouse Forum, which is more specific than art stampedes. But for us, Uncle Steve is Huge, very large." Anikulapo said, "some of the alumni of the SR Voices will come on stage and do some of the stuff that are in the Voices' repertory." He says that CORA expects the Orchestra to do his more recent work, "but we haven't concluded." CORA hopes that, with such personal testimonies, music and film pieces, and "we would be able to tell the artistic story of the man's life." Anikulapo said that a majority of the Art community who could not be part of the funeral would have been effectively engaged. CORA has decided that each of its remaining programmes for the year, including the Book Editing Workshops and the Book and Art Festival.

*Culled from ARTSVILLE, The Guardian June 22

Saturday, June 21, 2008




Banquet hall, national Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos

The legendary Art Impresario, STEVE BANKOLE OMODELE RHODES died May 29 at age 82. He has since been buried.
The name Steve Rhodes represents for Nigeria an institution of inestimable value, having bestrode the entire landscape of the Art and Culture life of the country. He was a Broadcaster, Composer/Arranger of Music, Art Manager whose industrousness and Journalistic practice helped in shaping the career of such great Nigerian artistes as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Rex Lawson, Bobby Benson, Fatai Rolling Dollar, as well as scores of other younger artistes. (See

At his death, he had requested for a quiet funeral, which was respected by his family and associates. This means that the ARTISTES COMMUNITY to which he was colossus as well as an inspiration did not have opportunity to pay their last respect to him.

The COMMITTE FOR RELEVANT ART (CORA) has decided to dedicate its 78th Quarterly ART STAMPEDE (started since 1991). The objective is to avail the ARTISTES AND CULTURE COMMUNITY as well as other Nigerians (who
may wish so to do), the opportunity to pay their respect to his blessed soul.

Also, the CORA wishes to use the STAMPEDE platform to set up a process of INSTITUTIONALISING the name STEVE
RHODES, particularly towards helping to put his many unfinished projects on sound footing.

The event will feature
1. Reflections on his life and works by such eminent culture producers and patrons of culture as Mrs.Francesca Emanuel. Amb Segun Olusola; Profs. Duro Oni, Ahmed Yerima; Benson Idonije; Dr Peter Badejo (the Nigerian biggest Dance export) and a horde of many younger artistes musical performances; dance skits;
2. Musical performances
3. Dance performances
4. Screening of Steve Rhodes Documentary produced by
Femi Odugbemi; among others.

The details are:

TIME: 2pm
VENUE: Banquet Hall
National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos

Steve Rhodes (1926 -2008)

Musicologist, master of interpretative music, icon of multi-dimensional talent and leading arts and culture advocate, Mr Steven Bankole Omodele Rhodes died at age 82 on Thursday, May 29, in London. He had been ill for some time.

More widely and better known as the founder and director of the Steve Rhodes Voices, 'Uncle Steve', as some fondly called him, was a man of many parts whose talents earned him recognition as radio broadcaster, as producer of music and television programmes, and as arranger, and director of music. He was the first Nigerian Head of Programmes for Africa's first television station - the WNTV at Ibadan, and the first director of the first big band in Nigeria, the 15-piece NBC Dance Orchestra that cut across nationalities.

It is a credit to Mr. Rhodes that the Steve Rhodes Voices (SRV) quickly became, even in its early years, an award-winning vocal ensemble that took the first prize at the Llangollen International Musical Festival at Eisteddfod in Wales, a place described by Professor Wole Soyinka as "the source of the vocal art itself".

The group has continued on a path of tremendous success, performing to high-brow and appreciative audiences, and to rave media reviews. It could not be different though. Mrs. Francesca Emanuel says 'the discipline at SRV was unparalleled' adding 'I have not seen such discipline anywhere'. Uncle Steve was well-known for demanding high standards but even more especially, from himself; excellence was his watch-word. He had zero tolerance for mediocrity.

Said he on the content of our television programmes: "I grieve for the fact that after forty years, we should have been a long way down the road, but unfortunately we are still showing high percentage of garbage from abroad". A sticker for details and perfection, he maintained that Nigeria is yet to have a music industry in the proper sense of it because "an industry consists of various specialists that include singers, song writers, arrangers, managers, costumiers, and stage designers". He described as "crazy," a situation, such as common in these parts, whereby a singer will be his own song-writer, arranger, producer, and every other thing else .

• Whe he was 80

Steve Rhodes, educated and polished, lived a full and active life, he was respected and honoured in cultured societies and in high places. He did well for himself; he also did much for others, especially younger artistes who looked up to him for guidance and inspiration. For his country, he accepted to collaborate with Professor Wole Soyinka in his capacity as Artistic Consultant for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2003 All Africa Games. It turned out a difficult and thankless job, but this elder, so worthy to be so called, was not one to complain in public.

He also served as the first president and later, member of the Board of Trustees of the Independent Television Producers' Association of Nigeria (ITPAN). He has left behind an example that is truly worthy of emulation by present and future generations of artists. He was devoted to his art, remaining active until his last moments. He will be missed by the arts community and by all patrons of good art.

— Adapted from The Guardian Editorial of June 20, 2008