Average read time: 5 Minutes.
Exposed to the music of legends such as Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Nigerian stars like Alex O and other iconic performers early on in his life, Odiaz has been singing and drumming for as long as he can remember. “I wanted to be a star like those people,” he recalls. “I believed and said that if I work towards it, it’s going to happen.”
As a child, Odiaz was inspired by his father, a well-known acrobatic dancer and traditional singer who introduced him to the songs of the superstars. “I’d also watch my dad perform,” he recalls, adding. “he’d normally sing when we were at home, and he played a lot of music on the stereo. I couldn’t control my passion for music, it just started coming out. Way back then, my mother would shout at me for making a lot of noise,” he laughs. “Now she’s very happy that her son is an artist.”
Odiaz’s father was unfortunately forced to give up on his own dancing and singing career because of financial challenges. Yet, he’s always been his son’s biggest supporter. “He’s very happy that I picked up from where he stopped his work and went in a different direction,” affirms Odiaz.
Success, however, did not happen overnight. “After school I decided to commit myself to music only, because of my love and passion for it,” Odiaz explains. Moving from Benin City to Lagos to work in a recording studio, Odiaz soaked up the experience. “That was where I explored and gained my confidence. I knew I would go a long way.”
Despite his self-belief, Odiaz battled financially and had to fight to gain a platform for his songs. “When I was still up and coming in the industry, I’d go to clubs and beg the MC to let me perform,” he recalls. “They told me to get out, that they’d only allow me to perform if I could bring them ₦1000 (approximately R35). I didn’t have access to the money so I would feel bad. But I’d tell myself that the people who were rejecting me right now would one day be calling me, and I’d move on.”
His love of music, faith in God and positivity kept Odiaz going even on days when it seemed that his dream would remain out of reach. Innate optimism is, in fact, a birthright for the artist whose full name is Ebo Darlington Odianosen. “Odiaz was derived from my native name Odianosen, which means ‘it is well’,” he explains.
Indeed, after years of pushing, his patience paid off. Having recorded a song titled Money Yab Man with a producer friend, Odiaz travelled to Ghana. That’s where he received a life-changing phone call. “My friend called me and said, ‘Odiaz, you won’t believe this, I just played your song at a wedding ceremony and a record producer loved the song and wants to sign you,’.” Odiaz returned to Nigeria, signed with Mobino Records, and released his first hit single Adura in 2020.
“The meaning of Adura is prayer,” explains Odiaz, who describes his music as a mixture of Afro-pop and Highlife – a brand of West African popular music and dance that originated in Ghana in the late 19th century. In writing the song, Odiaz was moved by the extreme contrast between the haves and the have-nots. “Things are so hard at the moment and there are people out there who have so much more money and can really help the less privileged. As I watched what was happening around the world, I thought that if we pray for each other, things will go a lot better. My producer and I put my inspirational thoughts to a melody and the result was Adura.” A song that transcends boundaries, Adura can be played anywhere from a church to a club.
Watch the music video for Odiaz’s single Adura
While Adura is still heating up Nigerian airwaves, the fact that it was released during the COVID-19 pandemic posed significant challenges. “In Lagos, we usually go to clubs and events in multiple locations around the city but during COVID, there’s been no way of doing that,” says Odiaz, it affects the song’s promotion, I can’t do club tours, so the only way to get your music noticed now is through various online media platforms.”
Once his music video for Adura was released, Odiaz began to be recognised on the street, which meant that his days of anonymity were over. “I feel really proud, and I’ve started rebranding myself although sometimes I miss the street life and hanging out with my ghetto friends,” he says. Yet, he’s embracing his rising fame.
Having recently released his second single Jamalo, Odiaz is working towards making his next video and has plans to make an EP. He’ll also soon be furthering his education by studying mass communication. “Education is the best legacy,” he says. “Knowledge is power.” But, his ultimate ambitions remain firmly rooted in the music industry. “My dream is to become a big star around the world and to really bring change to the music industry – with God’s help I’m hoping to win a Grammy Award one day,” he laughs.
From hard times to rising fame, Odiaz says he owes his success to God’s grace and his unwavering dedication to music. “My success makes me believe that you don’t have to give up. You just need to keep grinding because then you reach the limelight. I’m just happy and loving what I’m doing, and I know something big is still to come.”