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Saturday, September 26, 2020

#OMF marks 10 years of Gambian music renaissance

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With Sheriff Janko

Known for its record turn-out, Open Mic Festival (OMF) is set to celebrate its ten years anniversary on 29 December at the Independence Stadium in Bakau.
Initiated in November 2007 by Black Lynx, the event which started as monthly hood-to-hood show today by far is the country’s biggest musical bash. Beside, it is widely acclaimed for spotting and bringing to the fore hidden talents.

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Ten years on, the event has totally changed the status quo especially the way Gambians react to their own music, thus celebrating Gambian music renaissance.
However, the theme for this year is, ‘Celebrating Unity in Diversity; One Nation, One Gambia, One Destiny’.
For Wagan Faye, a renowned music promoter and one of the brains behind the event, ten years has been a long journey and quite a milestone achievement.

“I remembered when we had the idea then if people could remember there were times when practically there was no platform for Gambian music; be it on the radios, television or even shows where they could performed. So when the idea came to us we were like wow, this is something that we wanted to do because we have always being fans of music and Gambian music for that matter. So us as in Black Lynx sat and we brainstormed and decided that this might be something for us to do,” he told Standard Lite.
Even though, it was not popular at the time, he observed, they just went ahead and today it is one of the most sold-out concerts in the country.

Drawing inspiration from other international mega concerts, was one motivating factor for Black Lynx to initiate such an event.
Waagan continued: “One of the things when I always used to watch or listen to music videous or anything music related from other African countries, I was like I wish this could be me listening to music from my own country.That was one of the major inspirations.”

However, Wagan attributes hardwork as the secret behind the success of the event.
“Besides that, is our genuine love for music and The Gambia in particular. We make sure we catered for the people and they felt at home with it,” he noted.
Touring neighbourhoods from Faji Kunda to Pipeline; Banjul and back, it was obvious that people and even the artistes became gravitated to that and realised that this is something for them. “That’s why it became the peoples event.”

With organisers aiming for bigger and better concert each year, OMF is without doubt taking The Gambia’s music to a new plateau.
Meanwhile, artistes to perform at this year’s event are; O-Boy and Gambian Child, Big Faa, ENC, Gee, Royal Messenger, Sophia,Binzy, Miss Jibizz, Killa Ace, ST, Bai Babu,T Smallz, Bro K, Nobles, Alieu Badara and Baddibunka to be backed by Holy Family and Humanity Bands.

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