Musical Friends

Musical Friends

Abena and Zuri danced with their former classmates as their music blasted loudly from the speakers at the graduation party. Their song, Graduation Day, an emotional reggae pop ballad was perfect for the event. Everyone danced, singing along with the lyrics. It was a celebration to release the stress of exams and celebrate new beginnings. The students would be going off to college to pursue their respective careers – well everyone except Abena and Zuri. Even though they had graduated with honours, college was not part of their plans. They had chosen a different path.

Abena and Zuri were successful and skillful young musicians; the way their former classmates danced to their songs was testament to their talent. Abena had 2 million followers on KindTube and Zuri had 650,000. Abena was more popular and a few months older. They started music at the same time but Abena started promoting her music before Zuri which gave her a head start in popularity. Their decision to choose music over school upset their parents but they were both 18 and rebellious beyond parental guidance. The girls were inseparable, one being rarely seen without the other.

They had done a few local shows and their growing success had gained the attention of Don Pipes, a big time promoter and owner of Sunny Funk Records. Every year he staged the Sunny Funk Fest, a four day music festival that featured popular artists mostly from his record label. For the past two years the festival was headlined by his most successful artist Big Sheba. Abena and Zuri idolized Big Sheba; she had been their inspiration for getting into music. Before they started writing their own material they would sing Big Sheba’s songs while pretending to be onstage. Now they were grown and would be performing on the same night as her.

Their music was rebellious reggae pop, though not as rebellious and complex as that of their idol Sheba. Critics described their music as catchy but unsophisticated, colorful but lacking substance, emotional but no deep meaning. One critic even described them as a cheap imitation of Sheba which would eventually fade like a fad.

Regardless of the criticism they kept recording music and winning over new fans. They were gaining momentum that couldn’t be stopped by negative reviews.

They had 5 singles together but the girls had their respective individual careers. Both had released an album independently.

“I can’t believe we’ll be performing at Sunny Funk Records Fest – we’ve come a far way. We visualized this and it manifested.” Abena said joyfully.

“Not us, “ Zuri declared emphatically. “You made this happen Abena. Had you not shared my songs with your 2 million followers I wouldn’t be this famous. I’m so grateful to have a friend like you”

Zuri hugged Abena in a show of gratitude.

Abena and Zuri had a month to prepare for Sunny Funk Fest. They rehearsed their songs and dance routine every day. Their practice sessions always ended with them on the floor exhausted and sweating.

Though they didn’t sell many records they made decent money from social media ads on their music videos. They were eventually able to buy their own instruments and home studio equipment.

Their place of regular practice was the garage at Abena’s house. They would often drive to the studio half a mile away. The owner and producer of the studio had a small record company; he had produced their albums. However although they did a few songs for that studio they were not signed to it. The girls remained free agents, waiting for a more lucrative deal.

Things were on the rise for Abena and Zuri but it was not always this way. When they first started doing music all they had was their imagination. Their parents could not afford any instruments and told them to focus on getting an education instead of pursuing a career in music. However the girls were determined to go after their dreams. So determined were they that in the beginning they walked half a mile just to get to the nearest studio. When they reached the studio they had to join a long line of musicians and wait until it was their turn to prove that they were worthy enough to be recorded.

Walking half a mile, sometimes in the hot sun, did not dampen their optimistic spirits. They found ways to make the journey fun. They often told each other outrageous and extravagant tales of how they would make it.

Once they started making money they went from walking to the studio to driving there.

Their journey of music and friendship was not an easy one. Their neighborhood was rough and the best friends saw music as the escape ticket for them and their families.

Their shared dream was to be signed to a major record label, go mainstream and collaborate with Big Sheba and other artistes that they idolized.

Big Sheba’s music and story heightened their motivation to travel half a mile each day to the studio just to wait in line when they got there. Big Sheba’s story of an absentee father and abusive step father had deeply inspired them. Her climb to fame despite her rough upbringing served as the catalyst for the careers of many young girls including Abena and Zuri. Her meaningful lyrics and deep guitar patterns reflected her will to survive.

It was day 4 of the Sunny Funk Fest and the girls were feeling motivated after a month of daily preparation. The venue was packed with over 30,000 people. Security outside the venue prevented any vendors from selling outside the gates. However a select group of vendors who purchased a spot were able to sell inside. Both local patrons and tourists seemed overwhelmed by the tantalizing aromas of the vendors’ enticing array of tasty local treats. Intricately crafted souvenirs and colourful woven cloths beckoned like sirens, entrapping prospective buyers. Oblivious to all these smells, colours and tastes, the girls waded their way through the buzz of the gala, making a bee line for the small dressing area that had been assigned to them backstage. The security guard who had been escorting them had been lost somewhere along the way.

Abena and Zuri were slated to perform before Big Sheba who was the closing act.

Abena’s deep red dress hugged her figure and matched her pinkish red lipstick. Her red tipped black locks rested on her shoulders, blending with her dress. Her slightly open toed shoes gave a glimpse of her red nail polish. This outfit would certainly make her stand out on stage. Zuri wore a low cut white dress with a silver belt and silver bangles to match, her curly afro and bright smile radiated simplicity and happiness.

Abena’s red complimented Zuri’s white.

They entered the stage to screams from the crowd. Abena started singing first before Zuri joined in. They traded songs onstage and sang some lyrics together. The crowd’s screams competed with the stage music to see which was louder. They performed hit after hit and the crowd sang the lyrics with them.

After their set was over, the girls sat down backstage, wiping away the sweat from their arms and forehead. Their clothes were soaked from their vigorous dancing and energetic singing onstage.

“Zuri I’m so proud of us, we rocked the stage.”

Zuri replied with a big smile while lounging in the chair backstage.

Big Sheba was up next and the MC was getting the crowd hyped in anticipation for her performance.

Big Sheba wore an open black jacket with a low cut tight black blouse and a dark blue jeans that could be easily mistaken for black. Her black obsidian necklace and earrings gave her a feeling of protection. Her black lipstick and nails matched her dark complexion. Sheba’s 6ft all black towering presence commanded respect.

As Big Sheba entered the stage pyrotechnic red flames shot into the sky and spread over the venue. Her fans started jumping in excitement and stretched their hands in an attempt to get hold of her on the stage. Her performance started out with a bang – people dancing and singing along but after a few of her most popular songs, excitement from the crowd waned. With each song the crowd’s excitement got less until they were reduced to rocking from side to side.

Although she was the most successful artiste at the venue she was not able to maintain the crowd’s excitement throughout her entire performance. It was obvious that teen sensations Abena and Zuri had dominated the show.

As Sheba returned backstage she gave Abena a smug look in response to her smile and wave of adoration.

“Pay her no mind Abena, let’s celebrate our success.”

Zuri and Abena were getting ready to leave when Don Pipes walked over and congratulated them.

Don’s ruthless determination and business practices earned him the nickname Snake. His flashy business suit and chalk white crocodile shoes could not hide his eyes that seemed to live a thousand lives. He was comfortably stuck in time but harmonized with the present day. His style and mode of business made him stand out and it worked for him.

“You guys stole the show. So young and so much potential, you’ve even made my made main act jealous. You have what it takes to be signed to Sunny Funk Records.”

The girls couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Being signed to Sunny Funk Records was every artiste’s dream.

The girls smiled and looked at each other
Their former idol was now their rival.

“You are invited to a talent contest at the Sunshine Theatre next week.” Don Pipes announced.

The girls simultaneously squealed with delight.

“Don’t get too excited” he continued, trying to be heard over their squeals.

The girls calmed down a little.

“Who do you think is the better performer and lyricist of the two of you?” he bantered light heartedly.

Zuri and Abena simultaneously pointed to each other, both of them grinning widely.

“Well we’ll know next week, won’t we?” Don Pipes continued in a more serious business like tone.

I will only sign one of you. The one with the best performance gets signed.”

Copyright © Jaja Wallace

33 thoughts on “Musical Friends”

  1. How beautifully you can write, how full of life this story is. What I liked the most was that these two talented musicians continued to make music despite the criticism winning over new fans. It’s a very inspirational story! Thank you!

  2. Most beautiful description about two most honest and enthuastic friends Juri and Abena and their achivements in teenage.they both inspire others.very well written,dear kindfeeling!!🧚🌺❣️🙏🏻❣️🌺🧚

      1. I can’t “like” on your page, for some reason. Something in my settings that I can’t find.
        But like the rest, I look forward to the sequel.
        I love the name: Don Pipes, lol 🙂

    1. I’m glad you like it, I started writing a sequel two days ago.

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts on the story. I’m always grateful to read your comments. 💚🙏🏾

      1. Most inspirational post on Juri and Abena.They both are most honest and enthuatic friend.Their achievements in their teenage are amazing.they are inspiring too me.marvellous,dear Kind feeling!!🧚❣️🙏🏻❣️🧚

  3. Oh what a cliffhanger ending! That’s not nice to end it like that. 😆 A lovely story though that shows the healing power of art in the lives of youth on the fringes.

  4. Pingback: Musical Friends – Tonya LaLonde

    1. Yes I am thinking about making a sequel. They’ve been through so much but now their friendship is going to be put to a higher test.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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