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The man who plays the saxophone without the instrument

Posted at 12:08 PM, May 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 12:08:52-04

Tosan Arugba plays the saxophone almost note perfect --- but he plays it differently from how you might expect.

The 31-year-old has been dubbed the human saxophone because he makes a sound remarkably similar to the woodwind instrument using just his mouth.

Through coordinated blowing similar to whistling, Arugba thrills audiences with renditions of popular Afrobeats songs from Nigerian performers such as Teni Entertainer and Burna Boy.

The unusual talent has made his Instagram videos an instant hit, with thousands reposting them on the social media site.

He has also received cash donationsfrom fans impressed with his mouth saxophone skills.

Arugba's story is, however, tinged with tragedy. In 2010, he survived a bomb blast in Nigeria's oil-rich but volatile Delta region.

The militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), claimed responsibility for the attack which left Arugba hospitalized for six months.

He sustained injuries, including burns to his face, but said music kept him going during the hospital stay.

"Before my third surgery, I realized I could blow music with my mouth. I made music to keep myself happy. I did not want to fall into the circle of boredom. I was in hospital for six months after the incident," he told CNN.

Once he recovered, Arugba took his newly-discovered talent to his church, where he quickly gained recognition at Christian gatherings.

But Arugba didn't gain prominence until his brother encouraged him to join social media earlier this year.

"He introduced me to social media influencers... who urged me to open an Instagram account to sell myself publicly," he said.

A graduate of Delta State Polytechnic, southeast Nigeria, Arugba says he is currently perfecting his talent by rehearsing songs and practicing to get better.

"I spend my time working on new music now because I can be called to perform at any time," he said