The Story Of The Blind Boy Who Became One Of Nigeria’s Hottest Music Producer

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Cobhams Asuquo is a name that rings a bell when it comes to ability in disability.

But in case you don't know him; he is a musician, songwriter and music producer of some outstanding talents in the Nigerian Music Industry, and the Chief Executive Officer of CAMP (Cobhams Asuquo Music Production) and Founder: Vintage Gray Media.

Cobham who is from Calabar in Cross River State, Nigeria was born on 6th January, 1981 in an Army Barracks in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria.

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Born like every other child, he looked perfectly normal until about three months after his birth when his very observant mother began noticing his awkwardness.

So she quickly took him to the University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan from where they were referred to a hospital in Kano, North-West Nigeria. There, her worst fears were confirmed; her son had been blind from the womb and nothing could be done to restore his sight.

But rather than cry and blame God for her seeming ‘bad luck', his mother, who was a Clerical Officer in the Nigerian Army, resigned from her job to take care of, and prepare him adequately for a future she believed had to be great.

His father who was an officer in the Nigerian Army was hardly ever around, so it was up to his mother to train and sometimes solely cater for him and his three siblings.

At some point, when his father was deployed to Chad Republic, things became so unbearable that she had to boil and sell groundnuts to sustain the family. It wasn’t easy at all.

Her first responsibility was showing him that his blindness wasn’t a disability.

“It wasn’t easy watching Cobhams do chores around the house and run errands like my other children but I resolved to make him as independent and capable of achieving anything he sets his mind to do."

"I showed him where his box of clothes were and would ask him to go get his clothes after bathing him.” - Gladys Asuquo (Mother).

These trainings came in handy when he had to move into boarding school at Pacelli School For The Blind & Partially Sighted Children, Lagos for his primary school education and later, Kings College, Lagos for his secondary school education.

It wasn't easy either at school, as bullies almost made him drop out of school.

"I attended a boarding primary school and for me, the environment and atmosphere were very different from what I had been used to at home. The shock was such that I wanted to drop out of school in primary two. The routine was quite a lot for a young boy like me who had been used to being woken up by his mother and asked what he wanted for breakfast."

"Also, the head boy of the school then didn’t like me much because I spoke with an accent I picked up from watching television which they couldn’t understand. He and a few other boys did all they could to make life difficult for me. The situation got to me and I wanted to drop out of school at that point."

"Fortunately for me, a lot of those boys passed out the following year, so things became much easier for me in school. As a matter of fact, I soon became a ringleader myself as time went by."

Higher Education & Music Career

As a child he would organize concerts in his neighborhood, drumming on his mother’s barrels of water and also puff his cheeks to play the 12-Bar Blues

“All the kids from the neighbouring block would come and we’d hang out and we’d make so much noise. I didn’t realize at the time that I was preparing myself for what would be my life, my career path, my destiny".

During this period, his very observant mother noticed her son’s love for music, so she did her best to encourage him.

“He would beat on anything he could lay his hands on so I encouraged him by buying him musical toys. Cobhams never went to school to learn to play any music instrument; I think it was just an escape route for him.” - Gladys Asuquo (Mother).

Despite his passion for music, he wanted to become a lawyer with the International Court of Justice. So after secondary school, he went to University of Lagos to study Law, but after 3 years he left the university to embark on a path that for a young blind musician in Nigeria, was far from easy.

"I wasn’t going to continue to lie to myself that I was a student of an institution that had not matriculated me properly because of the carelessness of a few people. I felt I needed to chart a new course for my life and music presented itself."

“(I had to) sleep on studio floors all across Lagos, worked at different studios, worked without pay, I’ve been out on the road, out on the streets, doing my thing,”

“I had to convince people that I could do it — I had sessions that were cancelled because they weren’t sure I could deliver either because they thought I was too young or maybe as a blind person, ‘how do we trust our music which is our future and investment?'”

Then, all of a sudden, Cobhams shot to international fame in 2007 with his musical production of the debut album by Aṣa.

He also wrote and co-wrote several songs on the award-winning album including the hit singles, “Fire on the Mountain,” and “Jailer.”

He has also produced numerous award-winning songs for artistes such as: Banky W, Omawumi, Waje, Timi Dakolo, Dare Art-Alade, Rooftop MCs, Faze, Mode 9, Shola Allyson, Djinee, Lara George, Flavour, Seyi Shay, Koredo Bello, Bez, Chidinma Ekile, Tiwa Savage, and so many others.

Today, Cobhams is in much demand and is one of the most expensive producers in Nigeria.

His style of music comprises a wide spectrum of genres based on his careful understudy of such Classical, Jazz and Traditional Music Greats as Tchaikovsky, Dave Grusin and Haruna Isola respectively.

Personal Life

Cobhams is wedded to Ojuolape Veronica Olukanni.

The wedding which took place on the 2nd of December 2010, was held at the Redeemed Christian Church of God – The King is Coming Parish at the Redemption Camp.

The couple are blessed with a child - David Asuquo

Awards And Endorsements

The Future Awards 2006 and 2009 (Producer of the Year).

Hip-hop World Awards 2007 and 2008 (Producer of the Year)

Nigeria Music Awards (NMA) 2007 Producer of the decade.

Nigerian Music Awards (NMA) 2008 for “Producer of the Decade”.

LEAP Africa Award 2007 for his “Creativity, Fortitude & Exemplary Leadership In the Music Industry’

The Partnership Awards 2008 for “supporting the Worship For Change Concert”.

One Gospel Awards 2008 for “Gospel Composer/ Writer of the Year”.

He won the 2014 The Headies Ordinary People Best Recording.

He has arranged music, and performed with bands at international music events such as:

The Harare International Festival of Arts, the AFA Sponsored French Cultural Center Concert with Asa and Angelique Kidjo.

AFA Sponsored French Cultural Center Concert in Johannesburg, South Africa

Nigeria Week in Paris and the launch of MTV’s one hundredth channel (MTV Base Africa) at Abuja, Nigeria.

In the TV and film media, he has composed and arranged film scores to be interpreted for conservatoires as well as for film and stage performances such as “A Voice for Ella” by Uche Macaulay, Sunshine (Alpha Vision), “Bent Arrows” by Isang Awah and Communication For Change’s “Bayelsan Sillhouttes”.

In 2016, Cobhams started a Digital Radio Countdown Show known as: Cobhams Top 12.

The digital radio show counts down the hottest African/Nigerian songs that Cobhams thinks the Nigerian audience should be listening to. The show was originally called The Top 12 Countdown With Cobhams Asuquo.

Cobhams Asuquo Quotes

"Be Blind To Be Focused."

"Do not Excuse Failure, for any reason on any account"

“Every little baby has the power to be great, and every tall tree grew up from some mustard seed.”

The story of Cobhams Asuquo teaches us that… if a blind man can do it, you can do better.

There is no reason whatever to fail yourself and the society.

Be Inspired and Inspire Others

William Ikiabo | 2019

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