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CECIL HAMMOND, AN EPITOME OF MUSICAL EVOLUTION IN NIGERIA BY KEEM ABDUL

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If you ask Cecil Hammond how he has successfully run his business this long, he might tell you about his team. That may be a part of it, but it isn’t the only reason. With his in-depth knowledge of marketing and business strategy, you will agree that the great team he speaks of didn’t fall from the sky but was hand-picked for greatness. Greatness in the frontend and backend of Flytime Group.

Cecil Hammond is the president of Flytime Group who has led Flytime Promotions for 15 years. His sole aim has been to show that the African community has great talents by grooming tremendous musicians and comedians in the Nigerian industry. He has carried out over 45 shows across the country through Rhythm Unplugged; his popular concert that brings musicians and comedians together.

Reflecting on his input in the industry so far, one can unarguably say he has done a tremendous job at promoting Nigerian music.
On the 8th day of April 1976, Cecil Hammond was born in a cosy expanse of Lagos, Nigeria to Mr Hammond. His father was the former managing director of Akintola Williams Deloitte and Touche. He started his university education in computer and information science but for the love of business, he opted for a second degree in business economics. He gained a bachelor of science in 1996 from Valdosta State University, Georgia, and a Bachelor of Arts in 1997 from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, respectively.

Hammond’s dream was to set up a Network business so he returned to Nigeria to work as a Program Manager in Silverbird Television. It was at this point he gained a primary introduction to the entertainment industry.
As the go-getting person that he is, he noticed a lag in the entertainment industry. Large scale concerts were absent in Nigeria and he wondered why entertainment giants like Silverbird didn’t see this loophole. He enjoyed Nigerian songs so much and wondered why we weren’t competing with the world. This inspired him to create a large-scale concert in Nigeria, Rhythm Unplugged, West Africa’s oldest running music concert.

For someone who has always been in the entertainment industry, he attended events and listened to a lot of music. Speaking to the Chairman of Silverbird Group, Ben Bruce, who is also his uncle, he said, ‘I want to showcase artists to the world. Not just any artist, Nigerian and African artists’. He saw a problem; Nigerian artists risk being ignored and something had to change. Nigerians and Africans, in general, have talents and if nothing is done, we may not get to explore the world. He knew what he was gunning for as he is a very focused man.
Aside from his uncle Bruce, Hammond went ahead to tell other artists like African China, Style Plus, Tuface Idibia, and a few others in the industry and gained their support.

In 2004, he founded the Flytime Group that hosted the first edition of Rhythm Unplugged at Fantasyland, Ikoyi with the financial support of his father.
Following the success of the first edition of Rhythm Unplugged, a second edition was hosted in Port Harcourt a few months later. According to an interview by Guardian newspaper, Hammond wanted to try out new things, but this came at the detriment of the revenue. He said in that interview that he and his team reduced the price of the tickets in other states, yet the turnout wasn’t as good as that of the first edition. That was not the only challenge they faced in these other states, they also encountered a lot of logistics issues. The only consolation was that musicians were getting recognised and so was the brand.

Till date, Rhythm Unplugged concerts have highlighted some top Nigeria artists like Davido, D’Banj, Don Jazzy, Olamide, Runtown, Simi, Tiwa Savage, Wande Coal, Wizkid and a lot more. Hammond has done strategic work in the last 16 years. His consistency in promoting young artists and ensuring that the African sound gets far and wide is enormous. He is a true epitome of musical evolution in Nigeria.
As Hammond’s entertainment company gained more credibility, he launched the Flytime Music Label. This label signed Davido, Seyi Shay, and Tiwa Savage.

As the founder and CEO of Flytime Promotions, Hammond continues to focus on intensifying the concert outline of the business and growing it to include the management of artists.
In 2011, Hammond launched a Flytime YouTube Channel and TV, which now has over 35,000 subscribers. He showed 3LiveChicks hosted by Oreka Goodis, Toke Makinwa, and the late Tosyn Bucknor on these channels. As he continues to showcase Nigerians to the world, he is ever adventurous as he aims to promote more African musicians and comedians around the world.

2021 will mark the 17th year of existence of Rhythm Unplugged. People still believe in his ambition, from comedians, musicians, actors and Nigeria at large. It is difficult not to believe Hammond’s ambition because it’s so contagious that you can’t but buy into it.

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