In the United States, conventional wisdom regards country & western music as a uniquely American cultural product imbued with inherent negro-repellent qualities. In fact, in popular culture the sticky sweet twang of the pedal steel guitar has become synonymous with--to poach a phrase from Randy Newman--"keepin' the niggers down" (much like clawhammer banjo has become an aural cue for images of forcible sodomy and tender-lovin' incest).
Therefore, I've always found it paradoxical that country music has enjoyed enduring popularity in predominantly black nations such as Jamaica and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
In Nigeria, for example, the most popular singer in the early 1980s was probably Jim Reeves. Every household had a couple of his records, and like 2Pac, he seemed to drop a new release or two every month in spite of having died in a plane crash in 1964. Insanely large blocks of radio time were devoted to playing his tunes, as well as other singers of "sentimental music" like Skeeter Davis, George Hamilton IV, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, John Denver and Don Williams.
This country & western saturation obviously exerted an influence upon homegrown Nigerian music. In some cases--such as the integration of the pedal steel into the juju of King Sunny Ade and the highlife of Celestine Ukwu--the influence was subtle. In others it was much more overt, as in the music of Emma Ogosi.
When Ogosi released his debut, Nobody Knows in 1981, he largely seemed to be an acolyte of Bunny Mack's slick, leisure-suited discolypso, with a couple of nods towards the folksy lyricism of Bongos Ikwue. However, his 1982 follow-up It's Not Easy found him more clearly defining his goal to craft a uniquely Nigerian flavor of country music: "the African Don Williams," they sometimes called him, or "Nigeria's Jim Reeves."
Ogosi rode that wave for a while, but mostly put his own singing career on the back burner in the latter part of the 80s as he dedicated himself to producing and managing his (now estranged) wife, reggae superstar Evi-Edna Ogholi-Ogosi. He released a reggae-inflected album himself, Weekend Show, in 1990 but he's been silent since then. He's promised to make a comeback soon, though.
Here are a couple of cuts from It's Not Easy, produced by Laolu Akins, featuring his BLO colleague Lemmy Jackson on keys and Monomono's Kenneth Okulolo and Friday Pozo on bass and congas respectively.
"Going Back To My Wife"
"Don't Break My Heart"
"There's No-One Like You"