How a dream led Lighthouse Family to reunite

Tunde Baiyewu. (Getty Images)
Tunde Baiyewu. (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Tunde Baiyewu (born Emmanuel Babatunde Baiyewu,) is the singing half of the duo known worldwide as Lighthouse Family. The other half of this formidable pair of musicians is keyboardist Paul Tucker and the band was formed in 1993 in Newcastle upon Tyne.

In 2004 Tunde embarked on a solo career, releasing the album Tunde, and in 2013 released his second album, Diamond in a Rock, but now the band is back together and ready to come to South Africa on tour!

This will be the music group's first tour in SA, and the pair behind songs such as Lifted and Ocean Drive will begin their tour in Johannesburg on 20 and 21 March at the Teatro, Montecasino and then move on to Cape Town on 24 March at the Grand Arena, Grand West. Tickets to the performances are now available through the Big Concerts website.

Ahead of the events, Channel24 spoke to the 53-year-old on the phone while he sat in chilly Glasgow, about coming to Cape Town and experiencing Johannesburg's warmer weather, his previous experiences of Mzansi and what fans can expect from the show.

Will this be your first time in South Africa as part of the band?

It won't be my first time, I've been to South Africa before. Years ago, some of my friends, lived and worked in South Africa, that was my first time there. The second time was to promote my first solo record (which was self-titled). I was signed to BMG at the time, and so the record company sent me to a few radio stations to do promotions. But we've never been as Lighthouse Family. In fact, our tour manager has been excited because he's been before a few times and he's excited to come back and show us around. He's probably going to stay a little bit longer after we leave. He's looking forward to all the wine tasting events.

Do you have any plans away from the stage while you're here, like going wine tasting with your tour manager or going on safari?

I do not drink alcohol at all, but I am open to going to the wine places to see all the fun things. I just love hot weather too. I was born in London, but I grew up in Nigeria, so my DNA is coded to enjoy the warm weather. Back in the UK, we're in Scotland right now, and it's quite cold (laughs). I don't like that so much, so I'm always into going wherever the weather is beautiful and hot. I love being by the coast, and I remember a friend of mine told me 'Oh, Cape Town is just brilliant because you could be sitting in your hotel room looking at the Atlantic having your breakfast just watching dolphins hopping in and out of the water'."

What made you want to reunite after so many years?

After our third record, my mother died, and that put the brakes on things. I think a lot of people probably go through that. When you lose somebody close, I don't know it does something to you. You reevaluate your whole life. For me, that meant just stopping everything that we were doing, and Paul went through the same thing when his dad died. During that period, we just slowed down on the whole Lighthouse Family vibe. Between then and now we were always talking about making another Lighthouse Family record. Every time we attempted to do it, it didn't seem to work. We always joke about why it's taken so long, but I think it's because we're all so laid back, and then you look up, and it's been eighteen years.

What happened this time?

Well, a couple of things: I had this strange dream just out of nowhere, and in the dream, I remember I saw our manager who I hadn't seen for maybe fifteen years or something like that. And in the dream, we just happened to be in the same place in that dream for some weird reason. And then a short time after that, in real life, I was in San Diego, and I saw a missed call. And it was him! It was Keith Armstrong. I hadn't seen or spoken to him for ten or fifteen years. So when I saw his call, I kind of knew what it was going to be about, but I had this funny feeling that I knew what the call was going to be about, like déjà vu. He said he's been to the record company, he manages quite a few other big acts there, and every time he goes they keep badgering him for a new Lighthouse Family record. And he asked Paul and me, and we said yes, and that's what happened. Dreams and chance really. The idea came from our record company, our manager and a dream. And there was just something about it that just felt like the best time. When we started, it just felt like it did when we first started. It just felt like déjà vu. I mean it was new studios, but it felt like home.

What can fans expect from the show?

I think some of the first comments we saw online when we announced that we would be going back on tour – we're performing tonight in Scotland – is 'Please don't make a techno record' – so it won't be that (laughs). But it will definitely be a modern-sounding EP and record, something 2019 and fresh. But what we want when to do a show is for everyone to have fun so it will be a large sing-along affair and I think everyone will love that. We'll definitely play songs that they know and the new ones that they'll love.