Though the name Nelson Idrissa Kargbo might not ring a bell, with the name Markmuday, reputation precedes. Last year the National Entertainment Award (NEA) awarded Markmuday as the best RnB artist of the year. The harmony, melody and emotion in his voice, leave listeners with goose bumps. His rise to stardom shook the nation.
On 13th March 1991 in Freetown, at 34 Military Hospital, an Afrobeat star was born. Markmuday’s rise to stardom is like any Hollywood blockbuster movie- from the Gullies of West Freetown to the nation’s hall of fame.
As a child growing up at the Wilberforce Barracks, Markmuday exhibited profound love for music when he started using milk cans as imaginary musical instruments, while murmuring the beats. “My mum was not a fan… and any time she saw me playing with these cans, she would chase me to go and study,” Markmuday said, smiling as he gracefully panned his iconic tomahawk hairstyle backward.
“You know in African most people see music as a career for dropout. People respect and admire you when you are in traditional jobs, dressed up in suit and tie in an office. Interestingly, music plays a great role in our society. It’s therapeutic; after a hard day’s job, it helps you relax and ease your stress.”
For him, it was a challenge between the career that he loved and my mum’s approval back then. “I was determined to prove her wrong. I wanted her to know that music is a career like any other and you can be successful as a musician. My passion which was grounded in determination eventually convinced her and she started supporting me but passed away before she could actually enjoy the proceeds of my passion”, he explained.
The Markmuday Nickname:
Music was not his only passion as a kid; he was also fond of cars. “As a kid I also used to run around the barracks with a basin cover as if it was a steering while; pretending I was driving. Because of this I was nicknamed ‘chauffeur’. This was my first alias before Markmuday. ”
The slim six-footer singer, relaxed on a black leather sofa with an ear to ear smile on his face, recalled how he got the name Markmuday. “I was always neatly dressed whenever I had a studio session; because of my style, a friend of mine called Arkman said I resembled his Lebanese friend who was a salesman. Thus he started calling me Markmuday.”
He added, “At first it was a name that I disliked because of the way Arkman would shout out whenever he saw me in the studio. I thought he was making fun of me.” However, the name became prominent when the lead singer in Sierra Leone’s Afrobeat trio, Nega Don gave him a shout out ‘Markmuday’ in their hit song ‘Ose Dae Burn’ and also featured him on the music video. For Markmuday, that was his “rebirth.”
Markmuday said that Nega Don was a major influence in his career. After completing high school at the West African Methodist Collegiate School, he proceeded to study Audio Production at Auycade School where he met Nega Don.
“After the course I started producing and signing gospel songs.” However, “I was introduced into singing secular songs by Nega Don, and after the ‘Life Goes On’ hit with Rozzay, there was no turning back, my path changed.”
Notwithstanding, Markmuday pointed out that his love for gospel has not been a total write off. “The themes of most of my songs are anchored on moral principles hope and faith,” he said, adding that in the future he would be thinking of returning to Gospel music.
Kabaka multimedia entertainment (KME):
Speaking about his rodeo with KME, Markmuday explained that the CEO of KME Kabaka has always been a fan.
“I had been producing constant hit songs and my name had already become household name in the country, so he came to know me through that. We met on several occasions; I never knew he was Kabaka until I was introduced to him by Rozzay. He requested for a meeting which we had and I decided to join his record label KME after he explained his vision.”
However, Markmuday has now gone solo and he is the founder of Slim Nation. “It is not a brand,” he said. “I see it as a family home where young talented musicians can nurture their talent and eventually grow.”
Back then when he was an upcoming artist, he had to struggle to get money to pay for studio time, as “to get producers to work for you was another uphill task” adding, “I have been to several programs, and seen lots of talents that need that extra boost to take them to the next level.”
Slim Nation, he said, is all about helping young potential talents. “I want people to see the human resource potential in Sierra Leone and start investing just like what’s happening in Nigeria and other countries around the world. It’s time to embrace ours,” the singer averred.
Markmuday disclosed that he is intending to do collaboration with top Nigerian artists and his dream is to be the first Sierra Leonean artist to bring the BET Award home. “In this industry you need to be able to sing, have the relevant contacts and God’s favor and I know I have all three.” He assured fans that by the end of this year, Slim Nation will storm the industry like a tsunami.