By Glen-nora Tjipura
WINDHOEK – Big Ben had a productive year after his big win at the 2016 Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMAs), were he was crowned the Best Male Artist of the Year.
Although his reign ends on Saturday, April 29, Big Ben said the awards opened doors for him and his band. This year’s NAMAs will be held at the weekend in Walvis Bay.
“The NAMAs helped us close the gaps on our calendar and also got us into events and venues we would normally not enter. More especially, it got us introduced to a new flow of information and contacts that led to more connections, links and opportunities. We will continue to exploit those to our advantage,’’ Big Ben told The Southern Times ahead of the annual music event.
His fame also brought him and his band ‘The big five’ into contact with the corporate sector, when he took part in the O&L Group of Companies’ Mwenyopaleka Roadshow that toured across the country.
Mwenyopaleka is an Oshiwambo term meaning “revitalisation”, is a long-term programme that the company launched in 2004, to instil the Group’s purpose, values and vision, as well as the associated behaviours, in the hearts and minds of each employee in the O&L Group.
Big Ben has produced seven albums to date since his first album was release back in 2001. And four of those albums have been nominated for best album of the year at the NAMAs, including his latest ‘Back to the Basic’s’ that was released in 2015 and won him the NAMAs.
Big Ben was unable to drop an album in the course of 2016, but has an album on the market ‘The best of Big Ben’ – a compilation of all of his greatest hits.
His only release last year is a single ‘Efundula’ that is nominated for the Best Single at this year’s NAMAs.
“Our only song released as a single ‘Efundula’ got nominated. But as I said, a nomination for the only song you released in a year means that you are on the right path,” he said.
He expressed that the Namibian Annual Music Awards have made huge impact on the music industry. But its musicians themselves that hold key to the growth of the local industry, Big Ben said.
“I just hope that the entertainers will shape the industry to make it bankable and a necessity to the corporate world so that they will need us forever.
“We need to pull the crowds and sell tickets. Maintain the buzz, the attention and mystery to keep MTC and other corporate funds rolling,” the musician expresses.
The telecommunication giant, Mobile Telecommunication Limited (MTC) and national broadcaster, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) are the main organisers of the NAMAs.
Big Ben’s music usually centres on traditional Herero lyrical content.
He has been a constant feature on the biggest musical events and festivals in Namibia, which brought him into contacts with African performers such as Freshly Grounds, Zahara, Salif Keita, Hugh Masekela, Johny Clegg, Dan Shout, Will Ramsey and many more.
Big Ben says that in his upcoming musical projects one can expect traditional instruments and sound.
He said: ‘’We will bring ancient sounds into the music and we will tell the story of our people’s music while maintaining the groove and the rhythm.’’