Mike Aremu: The master saxophonist

If you are a keen follower of the Jazz genre in Nigeria, you will easily connect with the tunes of Mike Aremu.

The musician is Nigeria’s world-class saxophonist and one of the most successful global Jazz exports from Nigeria.

He effortlessly creates melodious tunes from his saxophone, which oozes soothing sounds and respite to ear. In December 2019, his associates and fans across the world gathered in Lagos to celebrate his 20 years of musical excellence with a concert, which is still being remembered by the attendees today.

However, Mike had a humble beginning. He grew up in Niger State where he was encouraged to play a musical instrument in school. He went further to learn some basic lessons in music, but had to settle for saxophone in 1995.

He joined House on the Rock’s music team in 1996 having also played with the Compassion Band of the Strong Tower Mission – a charity organisation. As his confidence grew so did his reputation as a charismatic musician.

In 1999 Mike signed a record deal with Kennis Music under which he released two chart topping albums “Dance” in 1999 and “No Shaking” in 2002, making a total of nearly two million copies from his first two albums; a record in sales for a Jazz artiste. He has also recorded two songs for the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in the United States of America.

In his spanning over 20 years now, he has played alongside notable international artistes such as Kenny G, India Arie, Hugh Masakela, Najee, Bill Laurance, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Winans, Israel Houton, Mary Mary, Fred Harmond and the likes. He appeared at the John F Kennedy Centre, Washington DC’s main concert arena. He has also made considerable progress in Europe, in particular the UK where he has performed in some of UK’s principle music venues like The Barbican, Apollo London, Apollo Manchester, The Ocean, to mention but a few.

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In the United Kingdom, Mike had sold-out venues in his own concerts including the prestigious Jazz Café, twice, and made history as one of the few Africans to ever make such a landmark. He also has sold-out venues at London’s famous Jazz venue, Pizza Express Jazz Club and the O2 Academy, Islington. Performing before a mega crowd is normal to Mike. He has performed eight times at the Lagos Experience, a concert tagged to be the world’s largest gospel music concert, attracting a crowd of over 600,000 at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos. Mike Aremu has also performed twice at the London Festival of Life (FOL); an event that is attended by over 40,000 people at the Excel Centre, London. He has also performed at the FOL Wales and Scotland. The Green Belt festival was also a part of a major feat for his music career as he performed to an audience of 30,000. Mike is the convener of Sax Appeal, the biggest jazz concert series in Nigeria, and a concept which is geared towards the rebirth and promotion of live musical performances in Nigeria. Also as an objective, to create a platform for interaction between sponsoring organisations, corporate executives and entrepreneurs coming together under an entertainment friendly environment. Sax Appeal has featured renowned artistes like Kenny G, India Arie, Jessy Jay, Judith Sephuma, Kunle Ayo, Yolanda Brown, Agboola Shadare, Yinka Davis, Tosin Martins, Bez, Timi Dakolo, Cobhams, Waje and many more. The 2014 edition took place at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. Industry recognition has also been bestowed on the innovative Saxophone composer including; TOMA Awards (Today’s Gospel Music Awards) and AMEN Awards, Best Instrumental Album of the Year and Best Gospel Music Video of the Year, AGMA 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 Instrumental Musician of Excellence, among others. He won in four categories at the 2014 MEGA Awards (Album of the Year, Best Collaboration, Best Use of Instrument, and Best Contemporary/Alternative Album of the Year). Winner 2014 Crystal Awards for Best use of Instrument. Winner 2013 AGMA Awards UK Best Afro Jazz/Instrumental. He was also nominated twice at the KORA Awards in 2003, which was Africa’s best known and recognized mainstream music awards ceremony. He also won JCI’s TOYP (Ten Outstanding Young People) – Best self-developed personality.

After two decades of mastering his craft, impacting lives with his tunes and performances, Mike is not slowing down as some of his colleagues will do, especially looking at their feats.

At present, he spends a considerable amount of time traveling and performing at venues across the world.

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