The young musician from Nigeria, who arrived in Sicily after his imprisonment in Libya, discovered how art can unite hearts. His message of hope will soon take shape in his first album

Music is a matter of blood for Chris Obehi: “My mother sang gospel music, my father loved reggae and my uncle played the piano”. This is the family portrait that passed down the passion for music to the young Nigerian musician who, after his imprisonment in Libya, arrived in Lampedusa in 2015 and then moved to Messina and Palermo, and now emerges in the music world also thanks to his interpretation of Rosa Balistreri’s song Cu ti lu dissi (Who told you that).

A COMMON LANGUAGE. Chris, with his energetic and sunny personality, can impart hope just with his voice. He lives his story and the recent success with spontaneity and delight ‒ Chris won an honorable mention in the Musica contro le mafie contest, he got the SIAE recognition as young author and performed in many festivals around Italy ‒ as it often occurs when something good happens to the right person. For Chris, music is the language that makes him feel at home even in a foreign land: “I didn’t know the language when I came here, but fortunately I met several musician friends. Music saved my life and allowed me to communicate. When I arrived, it wasn’t easy because I lived terrible experiences. Many people who helped and guided me, like Roy Paci and the people of Palermo Festival for instance, continue to encourage me to this day”.

FROM NIGERIA TO SICILY. Palermo was decisive for his artistic and integration path. In the Sicilian capital, the young musician has joined the conservatory Bellini and started studying the double bass. But above all, he discovered Rosa Balistreri: “When I listened to Cu ti lu dissi I instantly felt an African rhythmic that stuck in my head. I became passionate and slowly learned it, but it was difficult for the language. I’m in love with her songs, I started listening to her every day, then I happened to sing it in the square and the video went viral”.

A MESSAGE OF HOPE. Music itself carries a message and what Chris play speaks volumes about his past and what he hopes for the future, not just his. “Politics often destroys the world, but music has the power to unite people despite physical and mental barriers. You need to open yourself to bringing cultures together. I don’t see differences between people because I think that we are all migrants and foreigners, anyone can have to leave homeland. The truth is that there are good and bad people in the world and ignorance often leads to say bad things”. Now Chris’s dream is to make music and to teach young people to have a different view: “I would like to be a teacher because I think that adults have to set the right example for the new generations. If a child sees an adult behaves badly, no wonder if he will believe that there is something wrong and forbidding in whom is different from him”.

Chris Obehi’s first album will be released between March and April 2020 thanks to a crowdfunding campaign made with Produzioni Dal Basso. The album name is Obehi that means “Angel’s hand” from the traditional name that his grandmother gave him as a child. Moreover, the young Nigerian artist will be a guest of Casa Sanremo in February, where he will play his song Non siamo pesci (We are not fishes).

Translated by Daniela Marsala