Gift Jackson, aka Babylon began making waves when he participated in the Season 9 of the Maltina Dance Hall. Though his group of dancers, the Jackson’s Family, at the reality show couldn’t top the chart, they came fourth.
But Babylon, a Port Harcourt boy, who hails from Okirika in Rivers State kept fate with his dancing career. Babylon recalled how he became famous at the show for creating an amazing dance, which he christened, Chicken Flavour.
“Chicken Flavour went viral”, he said. “How did I come about the name? There is this dance I always do at home. So, I decided to perform it at the show on a national television. Everybody loved it. When they asked what the name of the dance was I didn’t have a name in my head I just called the dance style ‘chicken flavour’. It went viral”, he said.
Despite growing up in Port Harcourt old township of Diobu and Borokiri, Babylon said as a budding dancer he had always dreamt of partaking in the Maltina Dance Hall and was happy he eventually made it to that bigger stage in 2015.
He said: “I have always dreamt of being at that show. The truth is when I put my mind on something, I always get. Though it may not be immediately, I will definitely achieve it”.
To Babylon, dance was a gift and he performed it out of passion. Therefore, he never thought he could make money from it.
“When I started dancing, I didn’t put money as my focus. Yes, I saw money but I danced because I enjoyed it. No matter the state I find myself immediately I dance I become happy”, he said.
Though he discovered he could make ends meet with his talent, he said it was not easy surviving as a career dancer in Port Harcourt.
“I have seen a lot as a dancer. You don’t get to make anything except you are called to perform during a show or a video shoot. In Port Harcourt as a dancer, you will suffer because we don’t have many shows and video shoots.
“In order to survive while still dancing, I tried to do other menial things, fix myself in jobs. Sometimes, I get jobs for artistes to perform and from there, I get some money”, he said.
Babylon said his situation started changing after the Maltina Dance Hall. He was signed to a French Dance TV. He also delved into the areas of making walkout fitness videos for a fee. He also started making online videos to showcase his dance styles. Those, who enjoyed the videos sent him some money.
Babylon said Afrodaily later signed him up as a professional dancer, adding that he started making tangible money from the deal.
“Afrodaily signed me as their professional dancer. When I started dancing for them was when I began to get meaningful returns from what I was doing. So I had to save the money and put a tag on what I wanted to achieve with the money.
“Also, in 2019 I did a dance video. The video blew but I didn’t get anything paid to me because it wasn’t my song. It was a copyright. I felt bad after all my effort. Though I didn’t stop dancing, I challenged myself to develop another aspect of my life”, he said.
The dancer decided to explore another of his talent, music. Babylon said apart from dancing, singing has been part of him. He said he attempted to convert his singing into making music but failed because he had no money to record his songs.
He said: “I have always known that I know how to sing. It is just the issue of finance, the studio session, especially when you don’t have a sponsor or you don’t know a friend that knows someone that has a studio.
“You need to pay for a session, pay the producer, buy drink for the producer and other things and it is very expensive. The money I was making then from dancing was not enough to fund the process.
“In 2011, I went to the studio to record one of my songs and they asked me to bring N30,000. I wasn’t working. I was still very young and I didn’t have the money to pay. For you to make music is not just singing, it’s for you to be able to go to a studio to record your songs”.
But he later tested his talent at the studio. Recalling his first experience at the studio, Babylon said: “A friend of mine opened a record label studio in Benin and invited me, I went to the studio.
“He played an instrumental that they just sent to him from the UK. I told him I could actually kill the beat. Those in the studio asked me to go ahead. I just followed and started vibing freely for straight two minutes without any thing written down. My friend said we should end the session that we all should go to sleep.
“The next morning when we listened to it, I felt goosebumps all over my skin, ‘like was this me’. I had to applauded myself that I tried. That was actually my first time in a studio with a mic”.
Babylon has decided to channel all the money he saved from his returns in dance to making music. He has finally recorded his first song, which would premier on March 25th with the video. He said the song ‘Lit’ was based on his story in the industry how people underrated and looked down on him.
He said: “Lit highlights how people underrated me. Many people never believed in me. The music is talking to those, who looked down on me.
“For instance, when I did that song, I went to meet my friend to sign me to his record label, but he underrated me, he didn’t even care to listen to the song. He was playing me. I had to move on.
“When he heard the song during the video shoot he started calling me to come and sign a deal. I told him it was too late. My song is all about never let anyone decide your life.
“I am planning a premier not just for the song but for the video because I did an official video to the song.
The song is dropping on the 25th of March” he said.
Babylon said many talented youths in the Niger Delta were groping on the streets because of lack of finance and official support to develop their skills.
“There are millions of talented youths in the Niger Delta. But they are wasting away. The challenge of finance and lack of official support is real but the truth is if families can support their children in their endeavors it will go a long way to keep their dreams alive.
“As for me I am expanding from dancing to music and also adding fashion. I am a stylist. I have styled many artistes in Port Harcourt. I have a lot of potential I am just harnessing it with due time they will all come to limelight”, he said.