“Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) — Like his long-time hero Stevie Wonder, Nigerian music pioneer Cobhams Asuquo was born visually-impaired. And again, like the American R&B legend, the lack of sight was never enough to stop Asuquo from realizing his ambitions.
Instead, it only fueled his optimism and desire to achieve success.
“Being blind has played an integral role in forming who I am and I think to some extent is responsible for my optimism,” says Asuquo, an award-winning music producer, song-writer and musician.
“When you feel there’s nothing more to lose — if you want to work towards anything, you probably will want to work towards gaining and I think that’s what being blind has done for me.”
A versatile musical talent, Asuquo has been pushing the boundaries of Nigeria’s contemporary sound. His fresh mixture of different styles and beats has helped the west African country become one the continent’s modern music hotspots.
“I fuse a lot of stuff to create my music” he says. “It varies — it’s jazz, it’s classical, it’s Afro, it’s whatever, it depends on what best interprets the music.”
Possessed of natural talent, the self-taught musician started honing his skills from an early age while growing up in a barracks.
As a young boy, he used to organize concerts in his neighborhood, drumming on his mother’s barrels of water.
“All the kids from the neighboring block would come and we’d hang out and we’d make so much noise. I didn’t realize at the time that I was preparing myself for what would be my life, my career path, my destiny,” Asuquo remembers.
His musical journey, however, seemed to come to a halt a few years later when he entered university to pursue studies in law.
But Asuquo soon realized that he had to follow his musical passion, leaving university to embark on a path that, for a young blind musician in Nigeria, was far from easy to tread.
“(I had to) sleep on studio floors all across Lagos, worked at different studios, worked without pay, I’ve been out on the road, out on the streets, doing my thing,” Asuquo recalls. . .” – CNN African Voices