Richard Kings: A Node For Notes

Undeniable is the fact that the works of modern day artists of Nso extraction would hardly be acclaimed like they are, without the contributions of Richard Kings.

One human frailty is our lack of ability to fully enjoy a moment untill we lose it or realise we are about to lose it.

Growing up in Kumbo, a town in Cameroon’s English speaking North West Region, countless are the days I returned home from school to the tune of Richard Kings on national radio’s Luncheon Date program.

As a kid seeking rest and food after school, it often sounded like noise to me especially when the volume was raised high as if to serve the entire neighborhood.

It was not until secondary school that I started to have an appreciation of the gem he was. It was more humbling to know that he was from the same Kumbo where we were raised, and he was an ordinary man like me, yet was singing to an entire nation, armed with just a voice and guitar.

Years later when I heard Mr Leo’s ‘Je Suis Désolé’, what first stood out to me was not the catchy chorus or the unusual yet imposing voice.

It was the few lines in Lamnso that made the difference. Just like Vernyuy Tina’s verse on Tzy Panchak’s Na So would later do, Mr Leo’s Lamnso verses on e go better came to me like paint on a canvas. Both verses had me screaming in my head ‘Richard Kings did it!’

Undeniable is the fact that the works of modern day artists of Nso extraction would hardly be acclaimed like they are, without the contributions of Richard Kings. He was (is) that headlight to the car whose tyres today drive around the national territory and beyond, spreading messages of hope, joy and faith in humanity.

I recall having my dad break down the wordings of Kings’ Ntaang-Ri song and the spiritual (traditional/Christian) references he made. Pure bliss!

Untill then, I had only enjoyed Kings for the irresistible voice, the melody and instrumentation. Understanding that one song took off the scales from my eyes and a new fan was born.

Richard Kings

In 2016, Richard Kings released Light Shine a third album, after Melody Agora and Triple Heritage. He would go on to reveal on National Television that his father had initially disagreed with his decision to do music. He however used the very music to win him over.

Kings described his work as a means to stay attached to his roots while tapping energy from a much bigger source, a source larger than life.

Today, the same pathway his works opened in me – listening with the heart and not just the mind – is recipient to more amazing works, all connected to that same source.

Mr Leo, Chilli Wawaye, Fame, Vernyuy Tina, Brian’s Lee, Witty Minstrel, Shey Lontum Yov … These are just a few of so many new school artists of Nso extraction, whose works appear to be gliding in the path Kings set. Richard Kings is still in the game too and shows no sign of slowing down soon.

But Kings himself, is arguably not a source on his own. He is a node on on a network, the evolution of communication and entertainment from one word on to another and to the rest of the globe. I’d call him a node for the notes 🎶

From foot messengers to talking drums to griots and today, performers on some of the biggest stages, the evolution keeps getting better. Kings is playing his part.

Every step of the journey was obviously challenging and painstaking but looking back tells of an evolution definitely worth every ounce of sweat.

– By Giyo Ndzi

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