Bose Ogulu, manager and mum to Burna Boy, says she started managing him as a form of sacrifice and not ambition.
The businesswoman spoke of her dealings with the Grammy-winning Afrofusion star in a chat with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, TV host.
“Burna Boy started in 2010 from Port Harcourt. Even before he took the name, he asked me to manage him. So, I’ve always managed him. It just wasn’t a full-time thing because I was raising kids and had bills to pay,” Ogulu said.
“He couldn’t pay me so I had to do my work. I signed the first deal on his behalf; handled most of his bookings. I’ve always been there but I hadn’t been involved in the day-to-day [tasks]. He was with the label; they had a road manager.
“And he seemed on top of things. So I was just managing him and protecting his interest. I think I went full-time in 2017 because it just became evident that the day-to-day and other things I wasn’t handling were not going as well.
“And I had more time, fewer kids going to school that I had to pay bills for. And his business could evidently grow to pay me. It was a question of, ‘this guy is honestly the most talented person I’ve met in the last decade or more.'”
It is widely acknowledged that Ogulu managed Burna’s music career until 2014 and then became his manager again from 2017 onwards, gaining the nickname Mama Burna. She has collected awards for Burna Boy at various events.
On why she didn’t manage the singer full-time on the outset, Ogulu said she had kids to raise, a responsibility that came with bills. According to her, Burna Boy’s earnings only grew into something that could pay her much later.
“I just thought, ‘I can’t help you with talent, but I can help with everything else.’ Fortunately, that scene is not new to me. I’ve done business for most of my life. I’ve been touring for language immersion most of my life,” she added.
“There was a lot I could bring to the table. I thought, ‘if you work hard at this, it will pay you and your son gets to grow to his highest potential.’ It’s a win-win. Managers don’t get salary but commission on what the artiste makes.
“For me, I came to manage him as a form of sacrifice, not ambition. And it’s gratifying to know that it’s become work that I love and can come up to become a legacy. What’s next for me? I look to keep doing what I’m doing.
“And hopefully grow more talents. My real focus is on catalogues belonging to us being [the] Spaceship [label].”
Ogulu is a daughter of the music critic Benson Idonije, who was the manager of Fela Kuti, the late Afrobeat legend.
With a Bachelor of Arts in foreign languages and a Masters of Arts in translation from the University of Port Harcourt, she had a successful career as a translator for the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce.
She is the founder of Spaceship Collective, the holding company to Spaceship Records and Spaceship Publishing.
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