Spotlight on Barrister Smooth, Ijaw Music Exponent:
Soja Smooth who goes by the stage name Barrister Smooth was born in Orule in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State to a military father and a petty trader mother in 1969. He was given the title ‘Barrister’ by the popular Yoruba Musician known simply as ‘Barrister’.
He is a native of Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State. As a little baby he was taken to Epe in Lagos State by his parents due to his father’s posting as a soldier. In 1978, the young Smooth was brought back to Delta State when his father eventually retired as a soldier.
He spent his growing days in an area known as Warri Corner or Adu Island and attended Mowoe Primary School when they finally moved into Warri main town.
Sadly, the young Smooth couldn’t go further in his education because there was no money at the time. He did so many menial jobs to make ends meet and support his parents as well as young siblings.
Smooth hawked all kinds of food items and was always going to Lagos State to help his uncle to sell his wares in Oshodi market.
Along the line, he got some books to school himself how to read and write, which eventually paid off. As at today, he personally writes all his mails and reads his contracts before he endorses his signature on them.
As a man keeping fate with destiny, Soja Smooth had always loved singing even as a child. He was always singing while growing up, just as he made music his favourite past-time. His love and fondness for music was a consolation for him since he couldn’t go to school.
Despite his love for music, Smooth didn’t believe that someday, he will earn a living from it. He was fond of listening to every genre of music both local and international.
He finally made up his mind to go into music in the 80’s and settled to sing in his native Ijaw dialect after drawing so much inspiration from the late Oliver Sunday Akanite, better known by the stage name Oliver De Coque.
However, it was not until 1990 that he got his break and since then he has remained consistent in the music industry churning out good songs always which has become the delight of even those who are not from the Ijaw ethnic nationality.
There is hardly any week that Smooth is not engaged across the country. He plays during political events, traditional marriages, burials and other social events. He recently played at the conferment of a chieftaincy title on his son-in-law, High Chief Bibopere Ajube as the Beleukoriwei (Pathfinder) of Arogbo Ijaw Ibe in Agadagba, Ondo State.
It was gathered that he charges between N1.5 to N3 million naira, depending on the location of the event. He has traveled even outside the country to do what he knows how to do best.
He has over 40 staff who are graduates working for him and has been able to set up two companies, a record label company and another entertainment company for video coverage and other things.
Smooth has a passion for supporting the education of people. He has assisted a lot of people in that regard because of his belief in the gains of education.
In line with giving back to the society, he is establishing a trust fund and scholarship scheme to help the children in his native community and other neighbouring communities to go to school.
His songs like, “Akpo Balance-gha”, “Show them that you are my God”, “No be Mistake”, “Defend your name (minbutu)”, are classic, evergreen hits that will literally force any true Ijaw son and daughter to the dance floor when it booms from the loudspeakers.
The story of Barrister Smooth, who is also known as the paddle of the Niger Delta, is an inspiration to many, a typical example of grass to grace. It also reinforces the fact that talent is profitable, if properly harnessed.