In the late 1960s, early 70s and even 80s, people were very mindful of the kind of music they listen to.
Then, music meant much to the fans because of the meaningful lyrics, coordinated rhythms, danceable and the creativity the musicians brought to bear, amid enthralling stage performances.
That was when Premier Records Limited reigned in the industry; though it is still the largest West African record label in terms of catalog today.
This year, Premier Records Limited is rolling out drums to celebrate its 60 years in the music recording business, making it the oldest record label in Nigeria and unarguably, in West Africa.
Established in 1963 as Phillips West Africa Records, the pioneer record label has over the years done business under names such as Phonogram Records and Polygram records.
Looking back at the six decades in business, Premier Records Limited has many huge milestones to celebrate, especially still housing the largest music catalog in West Africa and producing some of the greatest African music legends.
From highlife, afrobeats, reggae, hip pop and even amapiano, the rich catalog speaks volumes on the commitment of the record at developing the African music industry, while showcasing African cultural heritage and awesome music artistes to the world.
Among the rich catalog are many timeless tunes and greatest hits from the likes of Dr. Victor Olaiya, Paulson Kalu – Sir Victor Uwaifo, Cardinal Rexjim Lawson, Celestine Ukwu, Gentleman Mike Ejeagha, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, among others.
The likes of Junior & Pretty, Alex O, Ras Kimono, Mike Okri and even the younger generation musicians also have endorsed Premier Records’ expertise.
According to Michael Odiong, the record label’s chief executive, the company has over the years worked hard to keep the legacy of the Nigerian and African music industry going without losing its value.
“We have always been pioneers in the music business,” Odiong said.
Speaking on why the company has been afloat for 60 years and running, Odiong explained that, “We adapt to changes and embrace innovation and creativity.
“In all these, we have been consistent in keeping to the cultural values of Nigerian music. We make sure all genres of music from across the country are accommodated.
“We have songs from the north, south west, south east, south south, even Ghana”.
While its music catalog represents the vast cultural component of Nigeria, what also works for the record company, according to Odiong, is the fact that present day artistes can tap from the rich musical catalog to create classics that are timeless.
“We had done this in 2013 when we co-produced “Baby Mi Da” by the late Dr. Victor Olaiya (OON) and 2baba. The original song was done by Dr. Olaiya and titled “MofeMuyan”.
For the Premier Records chief executive, the remix with 2baba is a timeless piece that is still making great waves today. “Many A list artistes have also sampled many works from our catalog (though they never contacted us for clearance) and those works have gone on to be favorites all over the world,” he enthused.
Looking beyond 60 years, Odiong explained that the company is ready to move to the next level, where it would be able to compete with top labels from around the world. “We are positioning ourselves for the future by rejuvenating the catalog through working with very notable producers and DJs across the world”.
Part of the next level of the company would be new releases, as many uniformed people keep asking if Premier still releases records today.
With excitement, Odiong said Premier still releases records today.
“We have just released a remake of Bola Johnson’s ‘Hot Pants’. It was released on April 21, 2023. This song is a remake in amapiano version. We are also closely working with Trace TV and The Cabal Entertainment; two global music TV giants, to bring to Africa great music and content that will reflect modernity while still retaining the cultural value and essence of Nigerian music”.
The chief executive also called on Nigerians and fans of quality music to join Premier Records Limited in celebrating the 60 years milestone.
However, he reiterated the company’s commitment to preserving the cultural heritage of Nigerian music despite the influence of foreign music.