Lead Onboard Entertainer extraordinaire, David Onka, composed an original song, Ama Means Love (Family), showcased in AmaWaterways’ newly released music video, which was filmed on location in Budapest, Hungary in July 2020. Learn more about the man behind the music and lyrics of our first-ever original composition, his AmaWaterways journey and the inspiration for the song.
What inspired your career in music?
I grew up in Nigeria in a musical family. My dad was a successful African music producer and songwriter who also worked on international projects – including for Philips Records (now Universal Music Group) and directing music projects featured in Britain’s Broadcasting Cooperation. I composed my first song at age eight and by the time I became a teenager, I was already performing on a professional stage with my father and other experienced musicians. I started playing drums, then added guitar, bass, percussion and a tiny bit of saxophone to my repertoire.
Tell us a little bit about your AmaWaterways journey.
I currently live in Germany where I was contacted by a recruiting agency after one of my TV performances about the possibility of working for AmaWaterways. I joined the AmaFamily in 2018 as an onboard musician where my role included preparing my repertoire, rehearsing and entertaining guests. Now that I supervise and train all the onboard musicians in Europe, the beginning of every sailing season demands much more planning and preparation. This includes assessing musicians’ previous performances to help them enhance their future performances, reviewing their repertoire to ensure it meets AmaWaterways’ standards, traveling to as many ships as possible to connect face to face with the musicians, and, of course, preparing my own music and rehearsing for when I play on board as well.
What does your typical day on board look like?
I generally walk around the ship about three times a day to read the mood of our guests. That’s highly important in how I choose the music or amend the repertoire for the next performance. I also wake up three nights a week around 1 or 2 am when the guests are all asleep to write songs in the lounge or rehearse for hours.