The Marquee of the Federal Palace hotel Lagos was a bright and lovely redoubt on Sunday April 9, 2016 as guests arrived for the 7th Woman Rising concert, an annual celebration of women who inspire and the men who love them.
Billed as a “celebration of women through Music, Arts and Networking” Woman Rising is convened by Ugoma Adegoke in concert with Zebra Living and this year’s edition was supported by FBN Quest, FCMB, Cointreau, The Wheatbaker, Strada Media, sabinews.com and The Guardian.
This year’s event had award winning actor and producer, Lala Akindoju as compere and she did a good job driving the proceedings in the well laid-out all white venue with white lounge settees that gave it an informal yet intimate feel.
Guests were welcomed with canapés and deliciously refreshing Cointreau fizz cocktails served by their friendly orange-clad waitresses. First on stage was comedienne, ChiGul who left the audience in stitches as she unveiled her 11 personas taking the audience along on a trip from the UK to Mexico, India to Liberia amongst others.
Music was provided by a band led by musical director, Philip Uzo. The band accompanied a slew of female performers who took the stage to thrill, their musical performances interspersed with readings from men.
The first performance was by Botswana’s Sheillah, a former Big Brother Africa housemate who gave a rousing performance ending with a cover version of Asa’s hit song, Be My Man.
Music historian, documentary maker and musician, Ed Keazor kicked off the readings with a piece from a forthcoming book about colonial Lagos.
Kaline’s set was a rousing melange of genres with strings and drums and percussive instruments. A leggy delight and a vision in shimmering pink, she had the audience on their feet and singing along.
Visual artist, photographer and satirist, Victor Ehikhamenor had the audience laughing out loud and close to tears as he read a long humorous piece about the lost art of writing love letters from his book, Excuse Me. It was a piece struck through with humour and nostalgia for a long-lost time and art swallowed now by technology – emails, text messaging, whatsapp, tweets and facebook messaging.
Angela Paz Alhucema from Chile was a delight to watch as she held the audience in thrall with her dexterity on the drums with sets that segued from Afrobeat to Latin music.
A visibly enthused Ugoma Adegoke thanked the audience and performers and sponsors for keeping faith with WomanRising before reading from Max Ehrmann’s beloved poem, Desiderata, which enjoined the crowd to: Go placidly amid the noise and haste,/and remember what peace there may be in silence./As far as possible without surrender/be on good terms with all persons.
Other standout performances of the night were the rendition of a song from the movie, Sound of Music by ChiGul who left the audience awed by her vocal dexterity while actor and sex symbol, Richard Mofe Damijo’s appearance and reading of a poem, Gray, by Alice Walker left the women oohing and aahing.
But it was Evelle, past winner of the West African idol who took the night to its climax with powerful and inspirational songs that had women on their feet and dancing along.
Woman Rising 2017 was, to borrow from ChiGul, a WaWu!