Sensational female drummer, Aralola Olumuyiwa Apake, simply known as Ara, took the world by storm when she emerged on the scene many years ago.
Touted as the first female talking drummer Nigeria had ever known, she toured the world performing with some of the greatest musicians alive. However, after the expiration of her seven-year contract with her former record label, Wanle Akinboboye’s Atunda Entertainment about a decade ago, the talented drummer said she left with only her name, and no money.
She said, “I was with him for seven years, and as big as the Ara brand was, when I was leaving him, I left with nothing but my name. He took seven years of my life, my official car; and practically everything else from me. I was meeting top stars like Stevie Wonder, Wyclef Jean, Wesley Snipes, among others, but Akinboboye was taking 70 per cent of all my earnings, while I only got 30 per cent. Meanwhile, he was very dishonest with me, and even if I needed as little as N10,000, I had to sign for it.”
On some of the lessons she learned from that experience, she said, “I would have left him earlier than I did, but a contract bound me, and I had to wait till it expired. The most important lesson I learnt is that one shouldn’t sign any contract without a lawyer being present. I remember back when I wanted to sign the contract, I wanted to get a lawyer, but my former manager told me that I didn’t need one, and that he had my best interest at heart. Because I was anxious for my talent to be showcased to the world, I went ahead to sign it without a lawyer looking at it. I now regard that as the greatest mistake of my life.”
The drummer also reiterated that she hadn’t returned to her former label unlike what was reported in some sections of the press. She said, “I was just going through the Internet when I stumbled on a story on the website of a prominent Nigerian daily (not TheNigerialawyer). The story stated that I had returned to my former manager, Wanle Akinboboye of Atunda Entertainment. I was shocked because there was nothing factual about that story. My contract with him expired in 2007, and I have never thought of renewing the contract. However, I made some findings and I discovered that the particular story was done to defraud a particular set of people.
They were marketing someone else to some foreigners as Ara, the first female drummer. Akinboboye has a new artiste that he calls Ara; she also beats the talking drum and wears the same long braids as I do. If they are certain that I performed at the said event, they should provide pictures.”
Sharing a bit about what she’s working on at the moment, she said, “My movie, Osunfunke would be premiered soon. It is the first movie I’ve ever produced, and I acted in it as well. I went into movie production from the angle of culture and tourism. I am interested in showcasing what we have to the rest of the world.”