Says “I’m ready to make necessary sacrifices to be the best”
By Juliet Ebirim
Dabenja (Benjamin Etoro Abasi) is a Nigerian Afro-pop musician and owner of the TMS (The Mustard Seed) Music record label. A serial entrepreneur and philanthropist. Dabenja who hails from Akwa Ibom state was born and raised in Lagos. The Business Administration graduate of the University of East London (UEL). started singing in the choir at the age of eight.
Dabenja, whose songs include ‘Select’, ‘Sugarbaby’, ‘Take Away’ and his 2019 hit single ‘Yakata’, has performed at the ‘Afrika Shrine’ during the annual Felabration Musical Concert in 2017. His 2011 debut single titled “Terere” topped charts in Malaysia. A brand ambassador for Pagepedia, he won the AEA award for West African/Central African Act of the Year in Malaysia. Shortly thereafter, he collaborated with Terry G to release “All 4 Love” which quickly became fans’ favourite and won Best Collaboration at the African Entertainment Awards, Malaysia. In this interview with Juliet Ebirim, the wave-making music act who is also into agriculture, real estate, and oil/gas, talks about his music journey and what makes him tick. Read on…
How did you come about the name “Dabenja”?
My name is Benjamin David Etoro Abasi, I basically just merged my first and middle name together and that’s how I got my stage name ‘Dabenja’.
What was growing up like and what were your childhood dreams?
I grew up as the son of a pastor and I had loving parents who worked hard to put food on the table. Because of my parents, I learned how to work hard for everything I have. I have always wanted to be successful and wealthy since I grew up in the ghetto.
Are you actually living your dream today?
Yes, I am. Music is my life, I’m definitely living my dream.
How and why did you choose music as a career, despite having a degree in Business Administration?
I was a member of the choir as a child because my dad was a pastor, As a pastor’s son you had to do something in the church and I chose to be in the choir. I always wanted to be a musician but I wanted to know about the business side of things, my degree is still very useful to me, it helps me solve some major issues in my other businesses.
How many songs/album have you produced so far and what exactly are you working on presently?
I have recorded well over 80 songs and just 5 singles have been released. I’m looking forward to dropping an album this year. Stay tuned and anticipate.
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Would you say your music career has been a success so far?
Yes, it has been a huge success so far but I’m not yet where I want to be so I’m working so hard to get to the top.
Were your parents happy you chose this path?
My parents have always been supportive of their children’s dreams, so I had their blessing when I began my music career.
How would you describe your kind of music and what inspires your songs?
My kind of music falls under Afro-pop and Afro redefined highlife. The experience I had and things around me inspire my songs.
How prepared are you to remain relevant in a highly competitive industry?
I’m 100 per cent prepared to be on top, I know it’s not a walk in the park, but I’m prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to be the best and create a huge impact in the music industry.
Who do you look up to in the music industry and why?
I used to look up to Bob Marley and Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Their music inspires me. They are very opinionated, those two icons have always spoken the truth through their music. Their music transcends time and is very relatable, even the next generation will listen to their music and that is how I want to be.
Is music profitable to you in comparison to other things you do?
I do music because of my passion for it, not because of the money.
What’s the motive behind “The Dabenja Foundation”?
I always wanted to set up a foundation right from childhood. My dad taught me the act of giving and I know what it means to be hungry. I also wanted to create an impact on as many lives as I can and be a blessing in society.
Where do you see yourself a few years from now?
Immortalized in the hall of fame and that’s going to be a dream come true for me.