A moment of appreciation

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Appreciation is a tricky subject for me to express much about. Perhaps this is because there is something personal about gestures of that sort that comes across as vain from the point of view of the recipient and possibly as a breach of privacy when tales are publicly told about others showing or receiving it.

As a very young university student, there was someone I met who was on a path of development as a classical singer. This isn’t a remarkable thing to recount, until I provide some context for where I met him. It was in Ile-Ife, Nigeria at a time when it didn’t make sense to do anything of that sort.

This fellow was debonair and well spoken. He used to rehearse with a Black American lecturer who accompanied him on piano. I don’t remember hearing him sing any repertoire from the Western Classical Music canon. They rehearsed Negro Spirituals, South African folk songs and music by Nigerian composers such as Ayo Bankole. I never even heard him in concert, but I knew he had a plan to study singing in the USA after graduating from Ife.

There have been times when I’ve wondered what happened to him and I did a Google search in recent years. His name came up on a list of graduates from an American university, who had sadly passed away. It is possible that there was someone else out there with the same name. I hope so.

I also wonder about what he managed to do with his calling as a classical singer. I am grateful that I met him, because he served as a role model to me at later stages of my own development, so I ended up studying classical singing for many years and exploring the repertoire in a broad sense. There is something about the example he set for me, with his dedication to a form of expression that was regarded as something eccentric for a male singer of African heritage to do, when I was a youngster. I wish I could see him in person today, to say “thank you for being there”.

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