Ola Onabule

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Ola Onabule performing live with WDR Big Band, 2013

Ola Onabule (born 30 March, Islington, London, England) is a British-Nigerian, soul, jazz, singer-songwriter, musician and producer.


Onabule was born in Islington, London. At the age of 7 he returned to Lagos, Nigeria where he spent the next 10 years in education. At the age of 17 he returned to the UK to study A'Levels at Millfield School From there he attended law school almost completing a three year degree before deciding to enroll at Middlesex Polytechnic for an arts degree. Whilst studying he began to perform in and around London at clubs and music venues and started to perform and write his own material.


Onabule has had a career that spans almost two decades, defined by his decision to release his music independently on his own label Rugged Ram Records. This followed a brief recording contract with Elektra Records (Warner Bros. Records). Ola's first album, More Soul Than Sense, was released in 1995, and Onabule's seventh album, Seven Shades Darker was released in the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland in 2012.[1]

Onabule has performed internationally at some of the world's most prestigious jazz festivals and concert halls, Since 2009, Onabule has also appeared with Germany's big bands, WDR Big Band Köln and SWR Big Band. Ola also appear with the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg in Potsdam for a concert at the Nikolaisaal featuring arrangements of Ola's material by Peter Hinderthür [1].

In July 2009, Ola appeared on the main stage of the Montreal Jazz Festival Montreal Jazz Festival in 2009,[2] and Vancouver Jazz Festival at The Performance Works.

In December 2009, Ola co-headlined a series of dates with South African jazz singer, Sibongile Khumalo entitled Soul Noel. The show travelled around the UK leading up to Christmas. The shows featured a fabulous band with choir led by arranger and conductor Kevin Robinson. The series of shows came to the attention of The BBC and Ola was invited to be a featured guest on the BBC 4 TV programme Soul Noel also featuring Beverly Knight.

In June 2010, Ola returned to Canada and performed at Victoria Jazz Festival on the main stage, Vancouver Jazz Festival at The Commodore Ballroom and The Edmonton Jazz Festival on the main stage as well as an appearance at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton.

In Summer 2012, Ola Onabule, performed his first concerts in the Baltic region. He was invited to perform at Estonia's renowned Muhu Future Music Festival [2] and at the highly regarded Saulkrasti Jazz Festival in Latvia [3]. On this first visit to Estonia Ola was also introduced to The ETV Choir and performed a concert with them in a church in Saramaa.

This wonderful collaboration led to Ola returning in December 2012 for further concerts with Villu Veski (esteemed saxophonist) and the ETV Girls Choir leading to a concert in the capital Tallinn, in the famous Kaarli Church which was produced and filmed by ETV. The concert was broadcast in December 2012 on ETV. The show was also broadcast on WCNY in New York State on 22 December 2013. This collaboration has led to a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre on 6 April 2014. [4]

Ola returned to Latvia in 2013 for shows with The Mirage Jazz Orchestra . The performance at The Saulkrasti Jazz Festival was so well received that the promoters decided to bring Ola back to perform in November 2013 for two shows at The Splendid Palace in Riga. [5]

In December 2013, Ola returns to perform for the third time with WDR Big Band Köln. [6] The studio recording was filmed and broadcast via live streaming. The show also featured the talents of German Harmonica player, Berthold Matschat. Two sold out shows followed with a radio broadcast of the last show on WDR Radio.[7]

In January 2014, Ola performed with the SWR Big Band a 1 hour TV special of his original material arranged by Klaus Wagenleiter. The programme was filmed at the SWR Studios in Stuttgart to be broadcast in 2014.

Ola Onabule also performed with a song called Stand ! in Okan Ersan's second album called "A Reborn Journey".



Year Title Record label
1994 More Soul Than Sense Rugged Ram Records
1997 From Meaning, Beyond Definition Rugged Ram Records
1999 Precious Libations for Silent Gods Rugged Ram Records
2001 Ambitions for Deeper Breath Rugged Ram Records
2004 In Emergency, Brake Silence Rugged Ram Records
2007 The Devoured Man Rugged Ram Records
2011 Seven Shades Darker Rugged Ram Records
2014 It's The Peace That Deafens Rugged Ram Records



1. Vogue, Italian (2011). "Files: http://www.vogue.it/en/uomo-vogue/stars/2011/08/ola-onabule)". Vogue. 

2. CNN, AfricanVoices (August 2011). "Files: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/SHOWBIZ/Music/08/09/ola.onabule.nigeria/)". CNN. 

3. ACS, BespokeMonitors (May 2011). "Files: http://www.acscustom.com/uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=109:ola-onabules-in-depth-thoughts-on-the-t2&catid=12:customer-comments&Itemid=85)". ACS.  4. Bowers&Wilkins, Zeppelin (March 2011). "Files: http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Society_of_Sound/Society_of_Sound/Music/ola-onabule.html)". B&W.  5. USA, JAZZREVIEW. Files: http://www.jazzreview.com/artist-interviews/item/28725-ola-onabule-in-conversation.html. 

6. TheStraight, Vancouver,Canada (2 July 2009). "Files: http://www.straight.com/article-237597/ola-onabule-puts-serious-thought-his-soul)". B&W. 

7. Jazz, AllAboutJazz (June 2009). "Files: http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/musician.php?id=20279)". ALLABOUTJAZZ. 

8. Lime, Magazine,London (2 July 2009). "Files: http://www.comelime.com/reviews/oct2010/ola-onabule.html)". B&W. 

9. Myweku, OnlineMagazine (9 Feb 2010). "Files: http://www.myweku.com/2010/02/2096/)". MyWeku. 

10. Online, NigeriaNews. Files: http://www.nigerianewsline.com/ola-onabule-seven-shades-darker/. 

11. Gossip, Nollywood. Files: http://www.nollywoodgossip.net/2011/06/06/my-plans-for-2011-to-act-in-nigerian-nollywood-movies-ola-onabule-tells-nollywoodgossip/. 

12. BBC, Music. Files: http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/d0cec0fa-5d79-4916-9411-5ecaf135ed81/. 

13. PressRelease, Nigeria. Files: http://www.nigeriapr.com/ola-onabules-7th-studio-album-entitled-seven-shades-darker/. 

14. The, Guaridan. Files: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2007/sep/04/popandrock.worldmusic. 

15. The, BBC. Files: http://www.bbc.co.uk/suffolk/going_out/music/reviews/2004/04/ola_onabule/review.shtml. 

16. BBC, LooseEnds. Files: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tnbzy. 

17. EdmontonJournal, Canada (26 June 2010). "Files: http://www2.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=25368687-96d2-4f6c-887a-bd0f81ab6521)". B&W. 

18. NorthShoreNews, Canada. Files: http://www.nsnews.com/entertainment/Lagos+calling/5730616/story.html. 

19. Germany, Schwaebische-Post. Files: http://www.schwaebische-post.de/583207/. 

20. PeaceArchNews, Canada. Files: http://www.peacearchnews.com/entertainment/134408833.html?c=y&curSection=/&curTitle=BC+Arts+%26+Entertainment&bc09=true. 

21. TimesColunist, Canada. Files: http://www.timescolonist.com/entertainment/Soul+sang+Posh+Spice+wedding/5760209/story.html. 

22. VancouverSun, Canada. Files: http://www.vancourier.com/entertainment/Tour+puts+juice+machine+Brit+singer/5723794/story.html. 

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