Article by: Carlene Seals
This article is part of our spotlight series where we will be highlighting the contributions of some of the outstanding members of the birdsong family
In this short article we pay homage to one of our longest serving members — Mr. Kontar Adigun. Kontar, which in the Akan language of West Africa means “only son”, has been a member of the birdsong Steel Orchestra since 1975. He played in his first panorama with birdsong in 1976 and to date, Kontar has not missed any of birdsong’s Panorama appearances. He boasts that he is the only active member who has played in birdsong’s all three Panorama final night appearances and is confident that next year, he can make it four.
Kontar’s journey in music began at the tender age of six when he realised that he had a gift - any music he heard he would run to his piano and play it. He describes it was almost like “musical magic”. He then decided he had to learn more about music and chose birdsong to pursue his dreams. Today, Kontar is one of birdsong’s most adept players equally at home playing double tenor, guitar, seconds or bass but his favourite pan is double tenor.
In a recent chat Kontar reminisced on some of his experiences with birdsong “back in the day”. He recalled some of the lean times back in the mid-eighties when together with a core of five other members he kept the band together as most of the foundation members left to pursue their education. During that period, the band entered the Panorama as a small band, with just about 11 tenors and made it to the semis.
One of his biggest disappointments is the attitudes of today’s players “they are no longer playing for the love of instrument”. He feels strongly on this matter and goes as far as to say that many of today's players are “prostituting the national instrument and their focus has shifted to how much money they can make in a season”. In contrast Kontar is the epitome of loyalty. Despite numerous attempts by friends and family in trying to persuade him to play with other "big" bands, he professed his love for birdsong who he has considered his musical family for 44 years. He shared the same vision as the band and felt honored to be part of this global brand of music excellence. His advice to players that is interested in playing with birdsong steel,
"It will be one of the best decisions you would make in your lifetime, what birdsong offers is a unique musical experience with a dynamic model which trains you to be a world class musician not just a steelpan player”.