The Doves Band of Nigeria
The Doves were a top-rated band in the South Eastern State of Nigeria which was later renamed Cross River State before it was split into Cross River and Akwa Ibom States. Despite their fame and popularity in the easternmost border state of Nigeria and in Umuahia which was their musical home, national acclaim was a bit elusive to the band. The Doves by all means were a great band with thirteen active years spanning 1974 to 1987 delivering eight albums and six singles, they were quite ahead of their contemporaries in terms of longevity and output.
With lineup changes over the years, the band’s primary members include a multinational and multiethnic grouping from Nigeria, Cameroun and Senegal. It is not hard to understand the influx of talented Camerounians who only need to cross the sea border at Oron or Calabar to hop into Nigeria or Cross into Ikom from Mfum border. Billy Baynak Eugene and Tony Ngon and the Band’s late lead singer Lawrence Ebanga represent a typical case of the Cameroon contingent. Saint Myron Kalla comes through from Senegal while the Nigerian contingent featured, Maxwell Udoh who took up lead vocal duties after the tragic death of Lawrence Ebanga in a car crash in April 1976. Al- Jackson Nakwe worked with Etubom Rex William the Highlife Supremo before jumping on the wings of The Doves while Levis Esso, Dominic Ikpe, Chikodiri Eze, Etienne Keston, Emmanson Ekeagwu, Sam Joseph were all part of the groupings. There is a certain Patrick Udoh famously acclaimed as the leader and main songwriter of the band, but the band credits are often limited in this regard, but a few occasions, Patrick Udoh actually runs the show either with a different lineup or as a label executive.
Most members moved on to pastoral work and other music-related endeavours, Maxwell Udoh became a solo artiste delving into calypso-flavoured afro music and later got caught in the Reggae frenzy of the mid-1980s sadly, Maxwell Udoh passed on in December 2014 after a protracted illness.