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ChiBase Productions Bio
From the mesmerizing vocal complexities of South African choral groups, to the lively juju rhythms of Nigeria that launched America’s fascination with the (too broadly categorized) "world beat" genre in the early 1980s; from the acoustic strands of Malian music that provided the DNA for the blues to the Arabic elements that inform the sonic identity in the continent’s northern region, African music is as majestic and culturally diverse as the continent itself. An indigenous African folk lute, the akonting, of the Jola tribe from Senegal and Gambia is the direct forerunner of the banjo, which defines American bluegrass, the progenitor of country and western; the Zimbabwean mbira (thumb piano) has embellished numerous jazz and R&B recordings while traditional African drumming patterns are the underpinning of several genres, from reggae to soca, rumba to samba. Despite African music’s widespread influence on various modern expressions, the motherland’s contemporary artists, with few exceptions, struggle to make an impact beyond the continent or transcend fan bases in the African expat communities in the U.S. and Europe.
The primary objective of the recently formed New York City based label ChiBase Productions is to establish a global presence for the gorgeous, diversified sounds emanating from the motherland. ChiBase Productions’ Nigeria born Founder/President Chetachi Ecton was inspired to set up her company four years ago, following a Thanksgiving gathering in her Philadelphia home. "I had several friends and family members over that day and my (American born) children were listening and dancing to these beautiful Nigerian songs that I had never heard before," Ms. Ecton recalled. "Then I asked myself, if there is such lovely music being made in Africa, how come it is not played on the radio or on TV here? So I decided to start a label that can bridge the gap between African artists and the rest of the world."
Chetachi Ecton was raised to excel in business as her entrepreneurially savvy parents had done, owning several restaurants, a construction business, a hotel and a pharmacy. Her mother and father’s well-intentioned disciplinary focus on their eldest child brought young Chetachi few opportunities to pursue her interests in acting and singing or to listen to the music that she loved. Her time was, instead, spent concentrating on her studies to ensure later success as a businesswoman. Apart from being a successful businesswoman, Ms. Ecton presides over the When In Need (WIN) charitable foundation, based in Philadelphia. Ms. Ecton will now apply her business expertise to the promotion and celebration of her African cultural roots through her creation of ChiBase Productions
She has appointed music industry veteran Cristy Barber as ChiBase Productions’ Senior Vice President. Ms. Barber, who currently runs the Marley Brothers’ Ghetto Youths International label, believes her 22 years of marketing/promotions experience in reggae music at Columbia, Capitol, Elektra, Island/Def Jam, Universal and VP Records can be adapted to developing vital strategies that will propel the careers of the label’s artists. "Working with African acts is similar to what I have done for almost a quarter of a century with reggae, which is breaking international artists in the American market, taking one culture to another," notes Ms. Barber.
On August 30th ChiBase Productions will be officially launched in Manhattan. The following evening the label will co-sponsor the 9th annual Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA), which will honor numerous contributors in various sectors of Nigeria’s entertainment industry. Ms. Ecton believes the awards event has enormous (although untapped) international appeal. "The reason we are partnering with the NEA is because we hope to help them expand, as part of our global vision for African music. Great Nigerian musicians like King Sunny Ade and the late Fela Kuti have attracted large audiences around the world and there are many more Africans who could do the same thing if given the chance."
Ms. Ecton recently visited several African countries to meet with artists she’s considering working with and to further explore the impediments that have prevented artists based on the continent from connecting with a bigger international fan base. One major obstacle has been the absence of a record label with the understanding and commitment towards bringing Africa’s musical diversity to a worldwide audience. Ultimately, ChiBase Productions will function as that one-stop entertainment platform offering artist development, licensing, joint ventures, distribution, marketing, touring and management services for African artists. "Our goal is to spearhead a movement and be the "go to" company that provides the platform that will facilitate the crossing over of African entertainers in the world marketplace," asserts Ms. Ecton. "There is another Jay Z in Africa. There is another Michael Jackson in a village in Congo. That is why I am doing this, to shed a light on these struggling African artists, so that they can flourish and become superstars somewhere else besides their country of origin."