He will forever be remembered among the Yoruba tribe of the Southwest part of Nigeria, that he pioneered the Apala genre in the country.
Haruna Ishola Bello, “Baba Ngani Agba”, who died on November 6, 1983, left many artistic works behind that makes him not to be easily forgotten by his fans, even thirty five years after!.
Ishola, described as probably one of the most influential singers in the history of Yoruba music, was also loved by both male and female, the young and the old, irrespective of their social status and education.
Ishola was born in Oke-Sopin, Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State, in 1919 to a native doctor father and a singer, through which the late Apala king in 1947, developed interest in music.
His first record was in 1948, after he formed his own group, through which he praise sang the reigning Orimolusi of Ijebu Igbo. The record did not do well.
Despite the colossal failure of his pioneering effort, Ishola was said not to have relented as in 1955, he took another risk,particularly when the paramount ruler joined his ancestors and he also waxed another record in memory of the monarch titled “Late Oba Adeboye”. This was said to have been a better commercial success than the previous one.
Ishola, in 1969, under STAR Records Limited, went into partnership with I.K. Dairo of blessed memory, thus becoming Africa’s first wholly-artistes owned record label.
While he dominated the musical scene, like a colossus with his philosophical explorations, and songs of praise, Ishola traversed the lenght and breadth of the Southwest as he played for both the rich and the average.
His fans and admirers, were not limited to the Yorubaland alone, he was also the darling of many people across the Niger, particularly in the Northern cities of Kano, Kaduna, Jos and Zaria among others.
His rich baritone voice, supported by agidigbo, talking drum, akuba, agogo and other musical sets handled by experienced vocalists, distinguished Ishola from the rest of Apala artistes of his time, particularly with his ultra-large repertoire of historic tales.
Among the records he released, during his over two-decade career were the “Oroki Social Club, Osogbo” released in 1971 and said to have sold more than five million copies between 1971 when it was released and 1983, when he died, leaving behind more than 30 albums.
Aside the “Oroki Social Club”, which was a sell-out, he also waxed and released “On my way to London”. “Alhaji LaHowever, when the paramount ruler, joined his ancestors, Ishola also waxed another one, titled “Late Oba Adeboye”. Lamidi Arowolo”, “Paluda” “Sule Maito”, “Late Giwa Abudu Benson”, “Owe Lesin Oro”.
Others were:”Ma fi ikan won wa ninu meta”, “Ina Ran”, “Ori eni ni awure eni” “Onise nsi se…”Late Murtala Muhammed” “Apala Disco”.”Ododun lanri Orogbo” “Ogun loni ile Aro””Gboti oloti le”Omititanikoko””Mary Awolowo”, “Punctuality” “Eyin ti nperi wa Saida”among others.
In recognition of his contribution to the socio-cultural awareness of the country, president Shehu Shagari in 1981, honoured him with a national award of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON).
Ogun State government, while paying glowimg tributes to Ishola, described as one of her own iconic artistes said he would forever be remembered.
Ogun State Commissioner for Tourism and Culture, Bashorun Muyiwa Oladipo, described Ishola as a great musical philosopher, who will forever be remembered.
“Haruna Ishola’s artistic works are not only highly inspiring and laced with proverbial lyrics, but educative and entertaining. We appreciate him for being what he was and we pray that his soul continue to rest in peace.
“Even in death, we will continue to celebrate him like other great sons and daughters of the state, who are dead or alive”. he said.