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Legends of Nigerian Music (Classical, Juju) By Uduma Kalu Part 2

 
 

 
 
 Influencing our musical culture today, among them, Emmanuel Tetteh Mensah, Bobby Benson, Victor Olaiya, Haruna Isola, Mamman Shatta, Rex Jun Lawson, Victor Uwaifo, Eddy Okonta, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The list is really long. Copyright protection can only be sought for materials that recommend themselves to the public, especially, in chart terms. But it is a very well known fact that no genuine hits have come out of the Nigerian scene for years. And yet to be fed on western musical materials, but this trend can be reversed with a genuinely devised cultural policy.
Video chips of inconceivable theatrical variety are presently assaulting the airwaves – in the name of promotions, but the most effective avenue is radio. This was the tool that Decca West Africa used to introduce Ghanaian highlife to Nigeria in the early 50s. Their formula was a concerted airplay of the music of the Tempos Band led by E.T. Mensah. Bobby Benson was the first to be influenced, then Victor Olaiya, followed by a whole new generation of musicians. All the veterans whose names have remained indelible in the Nigerian music scene came to prominence through airplay.
 
 
 
 Sam Akpabot
A leading crusader for new African traditional music in Nigeria, he spent years researching into African traditional music. He taught traditional music in Nigeria and broad. He also broadcast programmes on radio, designed to educate the general public about the elements of indigenous music culture. Akpabot maintained columns in newspapers for the promotion of cultural music for years.
Some of his works were Suite Nigeria for Symphony, Ofala Festival for wing symphony and orchestra and Nigerian instruments, tone Poem, Nigeria, for wind orchestra and African Instruments, Verba Christy, an opera Cantata, Jaja of Opopo, an opera.
Born October 3, 1952, Akpabot attended the Royal School of Music, London and the University of Chicago. He was Senior Music Producer for FRCN, Visiting Professor of Music and African Studies, Michigan State University, USA, Fellow, Trinity College of Music, London, Associate, Royal College of Music, London
 
 
James Adekunle
Born October 22 1930, he studied music at Guildhall School of Music, London, and graduated in 1962. Since then, he has been organist and choirmaster at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ebute Ero, Lagos. Ex Deputy director of Federal Ministry of Education, he was founding member MUSON School of Music. He designed the curriculum and nurtured it. The school is now a breeding ground for young musicians. The school has about the best music library in the country. It boasts of books on music education, history, scores, video, CD, tapes of works performed by renowned artistes all over the world.
 
Laz Ekwueme
Reputed as the first professor of music in Nigeria, he studied in London for BA in Music degree of the University of Durham and MA of the Royal College of Music, London. He obtained PhD in Theory of Music. A distinguished composer who professionally performed in England and US as singer, conductor, actor and broadcaste, he returned to the country in 1974 and joined the University of Lagos as lecturer.
His choir, Laz Chorale, established in 1974, became a pacesetter in and around Lagos. He pioneered the idea of private choirs to satisfy the yearnings of most numerous enthusiasts. His works inlude Dance of the black witches, for Quintet, Flow Gently, sweet Niger, for string orchestra, Four Spirituals for choir, Acapella Psalm 23 for Contralto and chamber orchestra, Nigerian rhapsody for strings, two Igbo Introit for choir. Ekwueme also studied in Germany at the University of Manchester, Guildhall of Music, and is a Licentiate of Music College, London and director, Nigerian National Choir for FESTAC`77.
 
Emeka Nzewi
Born October 21, 1938 in Nmuezu, Nnewi, Anambra state, Meki, pioneer student of Music University of Nigeria Nsukka, joined the NBC in 1965. He studied iun London, and at the Queen's University, Belfast for a PhD in Ethnomusicology. Some of his works are- Ogbunigwe (an opera), 1965; A Drop of Honey, (a musical) 1969: The love of Finger (musical drama) 1968; Death and the Dance Spirits (Symphonic Poem) 1966.
 
Adebanke Ademola.
Egba Princess, he got trained at the Royal Academy of Music, Maryland, London. A Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music, versatile pianist and singer, staff of FRCN for years. She was music producer with the corporation. 54 years old musicologist, she is faculty member of MUSON School of Music.
 
Francesca Yetunde
MUSON Trustee, she studied to sing as a child. She is a member of the School Choir of the Holy Child College and the Musical Society University of Ibadan. She won first prize in soprano solo at the Nigerian Festival of Arts in the early 50�s. One of the artistes that participated in the Great Britain/Nigerian Association in London in 1992., she is a member, Steve Rhodes Voices.
 
Femi Akinkugbe
University of Ibadan graduate with BA in Linguistics in 1983, Femi has a PhD in the same course specialising in Comparative Phonology. She has an interest in music and has exhibited singing talents as a student at the UI. She sang for years with the University chapel Choir and Music Circle. She has been MUSON artiste since 1987.
 
Dupe Akinola
One of the rare young talents in Nigeria, she was born into an Anglican family and she started singing at seven. She is in love with wide range soprano and won she her membership of numerous choral groups as a soloist.
Now, member of Laz Ekwueme Choral Group, FRCN Choir, Steve Rhodes and De Clique, she is studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Lagos. But she home with popular gospel music in Nigeria, fusing classical music studies with popular music in her album, Ba yanu. She also performed at various concerts in Africa and America and MUSON concerts.
 
 
Joyce Adewunmi
One of the first Nigerians to study voice and dance, she is currently, Voice and Dance lecturer at the at the Department of Music, Uyo. She studied in USA and OAU with best graduating student.
 
Big Boys of the Juju Music
Dele Abiodun
Born on 30 March 1948, in the Edo State, Nigeria. Resisting his parents’ plans for a career in medicine, “Admiral” Dele Abiodun used his school fees to enrol at the Young Pioneers College in Accra, Ghana. Here he immersed himself in highlife music, playing bass in several bands, before returning to Nigeria in 1969 and basing himself in Lagos.
He founded his own band, Sweet Abby And The Tophitters, who played Ghanaian-style highlife and then a tough and idiosyncratic fusion of juju and afrobeat that Abiodun dubbed adawa (translated as “independent being”). The new style immediately attracted a large audience throughout Nigeria, and Abiodun has adhered to it, with occasional modifications, throughout his career. His first album, Kino Mo Ko Soke Yi, was released in 1971. Eschewing the established juju practice of releasing four or five albums a year, Abiodun chose to release just one album a year, free of the sponsorship of local dignitaries and politicians. As a result, he has never achieved the super stardom of his peers King Sunny Ade or Ebenezer Obey, but has built up a loyal following and maintained substantial record sales throughout the ensuing decades. He toured the UK for the first time in 1974. In 1984, Abiodun refined the Adawa sound to include western elements such as electroclaps and drum machines, while also deepening the African base of his music with an expanded drum and percussion section. The new approach was introduced with 1984′s It’s Time For Juju Music and came to maturity with the following year’s Confrontation. He has continued performing throughout the 90s. While Confrontation remains his most compelling album to date, 1989′s Current Champion is also an essential set in any representative juju collection. 
 
 
 
King Sunny Ade
Born Sunday Adeniyi on 1 September 1946 in Oshogbo, Osun state, Nigeria. When Ade dropped out of school in 1963 in order to play with semi-professional Lagos juju bands, his parents – from the royal family of Ondo – were horrified. In Nigeria, as in much of Africa, music was regarded by “respectable” people as a very low-caste occupation. Ade’s subsequent national and international success should have mollified such parental disapproval, for his star rose fast and high. By 1964, he was lead guitarist in Moses Olaiya’s highly regarded band, the Rhythm Dandies and by 1966, after a short spell with another major bandleader, Tunde Nightingale, he had formed his own outfit, the Green Spots, playing a speedy but relaxed style of juju characterized by tight vocal harmonies and deliciously melodic guitar work. The band’s name was a cheeky riposte to seminal juju stylist I.K. Dairo, whose Blue Spots had ruled the juju roost since the early 50s. Ade’s luck continued with his first release, Challenge Cup, a song about a local football championship that became a national hit in 1967. The same year, Ade released his first album, Alanu Loluwa. 
 
The late 60s and early 70s saw Ade and his renamed African Beats go from success to success. By 1975, he felt sufficiently powerful and financially secure to set up his own label, Sunny Alade Records, now a major independent in Nigeria that issues all Ade’s domestic releases. The mid-70s also saw him open his own juju nightclub in Lagos, the Ariya, the African Beats’ home venue when not on tour. By the end of the decade he was one of the ruling triumvirate of juju music – alongside Ebenezer Obey and Dele Abiodun – releasing some six albums per year, and selling around 200,000 copies of each release. This achievement was countered by the fact that a substantial proportion of these sales were of bootlegged pressings. By the early 80s, African music was finding a growing audience in the UK, where a number of the more adventurous labels were looking around for African artists to put under contract. In 1982, Island Records signed Ade for Europe and North America (promoting him as “the African Bob Marley’). 
 
His first album under the arrangement was Juju Music, an across-the-board critical success that charted in the USA. Ade’s UK breakthrough came with a triumphant concert he and the African Beats gave at London’s Lyceum Ballroom in January 1983. Without exception, the music press hailed Ade as an emergent international star. He played regularly to a hugely enthusiastic, multi-ethnic audience, proving that – in a live context at any rate – juju’s use of Yoruba rather than English-language lyrics was no barrier to overseas acceptance. The audience size and composition was in marked contrast to Ade’s previous UK concerts. In 1975, he had made a three-month tour of the country, playing almost exclusively to expatriate Nigerian audiences at specially organized cultural evenings in municipal halls and community centres.
 
The critical success of Juju Music was matched by the 1983 follow-up, Synchro System, which also made encouraging UK and further US chart entries. Both albums were produced by the young Frenchman Martin Meissonnier, who must share much of the credit for Ade’s, and juju’s, international breakthrough. A third Island album, 1984′s Aura, which included a guest appearance by Stevie Wonder, was also well received, but the label – who were clearly banking on major chart success in the short term rather than career development – refused to renew Ade’s contract. The same year was also marred by dissension among the African Beats. Following successful tours of the USA and Japan, they demanded substantial increases in salary. Ade, who was in fact losing money on his international touring owing to the large number of musicians he was carrying and the limited audience capacity of the venues he was playing, was unwilling to meet these demands, and the African Beats were dissolved. 
 
Returning to Lagos, he formed a new band, Golden Mercury, and now records and performs almost exclusively in Nigeria. While the abatement of his international activities is regretted by juju music fans in the West, Ade continues to record outstanding albums that are readily obtainable at specialist record stores. Another international release was then recorded for Dutch label Provogue Records in 1989 ( Rykodisc Records in the USA). Ade’s collaboration with Onyeka Onwenu, Wait For Me, provoked a good deal of intrigue. The album included a song titled Choices, and it later emerged that the collection had been funded by the USAID Office of Population as part of a million family planning project. Some African-Americans slammed Onyeka and Ade as “accomplices to an attack on African cultural traditions and religious beliefs”. This contrasted with Ade’s more usual advice about the promotion of the population (by this time he himself had 12 children). Reports followed of his death in 1991 after an onstage collapse in Lagos, but these were unfounded. He travelled instead to London to recuperate, but his once mighty reputation was clearly in danger of losing its lustre. He returned to form in 1995 with E Dide, promoting the album outside Nigeria. In his homeland he retains a huge following, with each release selling at least 200,000 copies. He runs, among other things, a record label, a film company, a nightclub and a charity foundation.
 
 
 
I.K. Dairo
Isaiah Kehinda Dairo was born in 1930, at Offa, Kwara State, Nigeria, and he died on 7 February 1996, at Eton-Alaiye, near Akure, Nigeria. The “Father Of Juju Music’, bandleader, composer and accordionist Isaiah Kehinde Dairo established the stylistic framework which fellow Nigerians Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade , Dele Abiodun , Segun Adewale and others would develop in the 70s and 80s. After leaving school, Dairo worked in a variety of casual occupations while teaching himself to make and play drums. Inspired by the proto-juju experiments of Tunde Nightingale, he formed his first band in 1947, working semi-professionally in and around Ibadan. In 1957, he became a full time bandleader, moving to the capital, Lagos, and forming the 10-piece Morning Star Orchestra.At this time he changed forever the direction of juju music by adding new elements such as electric guitar, made available to him by the advances of technology. These were paired with the harmonies of the local Cherubim and Seraphim Church to dramatic effect. He was awarded an MBE for his achievements in 1963.In the early 60s, signed to Decca Records and renaming his band the Blue Spots, Dairo became the most successful recording artist in Nigeria, a position he retained until the emergence of younger performers like Obey, Ade and Abiodun – and Afrobeat originator Fela Anikulapo Kuti – in the mid-70s.
Despite the rise of this new generation of performers, however, Dairo remained a major artist in Nigeria throughout the 70s and continued to be active, both on stage and on record. Between 1965 and 1985 he released over 45 albums, a record even by the prolific standards of the Nigerian music scene. However, he entered semi-retirement in the early 80s to manage clubs and a hotel in Lagos, before joining the ministry. He made a comeback in 1990 with a re-formed Blue Spots band for I Remember, and was welcomed with open arms by juju enthusiasts. He died in 1996 following complications from diabetes and hypertension.Confrontation. He has continued performing throughout the 90s. While Confrontation remains his most compelling album to date, 1989′s Current Champion is also an essential set in any representative juju collection.
 
 
Ebenezer Obey
He was born 27 August 1942, at Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria. Obey’s earliest musical experiences were as a member of the local church choir while a child in Abeokuta – his parents, both devout Christians, were also members. In 1955, he joined the local band Ifelode Mambo, which despite its name was actually a juju outfit, playing guitar and thumb piano. He also played briefly with Fatayi Rolling Dollar and the Federal Rhythm Brothers Orchestra before moving to Lagos in 1963 and forming his own juju band, the International Brothers, in 1964. Under Obey’s leadership, the International Brothers forged a highly individual style of juju. Abandoning the percussion and single-guitar style developed by I.K. Dairo, Obey added two more frontline guitars and electric bass, speeded up the tempo and simplified the beat. The formula struck an immediate chord with Nigerian juju fans. Obey enjoyed his first hit, Omo Lam”, in 1965, followed by even greater success the following year with Olo Mi Gbo Temi. By the early 70s, Obey was rivalling King Sunny Ade in album output and sales, achieving major local hits with In London, On The Town , Board Members and Aiye Wa A Toro. In 1971, he renamed his band the Inter-Reformers and retitled his style miliki system (essentially a shrewd marketing move, for the music continued in the same juju style he had introduced with the International Brothers, heavier and faster than that played by most of his peers). In 1972, he opened his Lagos nightclub, the Miliki Spot, and for the next two or three years reigned as the city’s pre-eminent juju bandleader. By the mid-70s, however, Obey was beginning to be threatened by the younger Ade. Juju fans split into two camps: those who followed the Master Guitarist Ade, and those who favoured the sweetness of Obey’s vocals and the philosophical nature of his lyrics. It was with their lyrics, above all, that the two men identified themselves. Ade’s reflected his belief in traditional Yoruba religion, while Obey, always the perfect Christian gentleman, preached the orthodox values of love, the family and peace in the household. He also took on the role of Government spokesman, explaining the switch to the right-hand side that took place on Nigeria’s roads in 1972, and the need to follow more recent campaigns, such as Operation Feed Yourself in 1976 (with Operation Feed The Nation ), or the austerity measures that followed the end of Nigeria’s oil-based boom in the early 80s. While Obey never achieved the international profile of Ade, he actually preceded the latter in the attempt. In 1980, he licensed six albums to the London-based OTI label (including Current Affairs and What God Has Joined Together ). Lacking the promotional and financial muscle of a larger label like Island Records, with whom Ade signed in 1982, OTI were unable to sell Obey outside the expatriate Nigerian market and a small number of white enthusiasts. In 1983 he tried again, signing to Virgin Records, and releasing the adventurous funk and highlife -infused Je Ka Jo. Grossly under-promoted, the album failed to convince expatriate Nigerians or make any impact on the growing white audience for juju. A similar fate befell the Virgin follow-up, Greatest Hits. A third attempt, with yet another label, the specialist independent Stern’s Records, produced Solution. It too failed to reap a sufficient audience. Ever resilient, Obey next set his sights on the US market, touring there to great acclaim – but with little effect on record sales – in 1985 and 1986. He continues, however, to be a popular recording and performing artist at home in Nigeria, despite the subsequent rise of yo-pop and the young man Segun Adewale.
 
 
 
Segun  Adewale
Born in November 1956 at Oshogbo, Osun State, Nigeria, by the mid-80s, Nigeria’s juju music had been dominated for over a decade by just three bandleaders – King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Dele Abiodun. Though by nature conservative in its taste, the juju audience was nonetheless ready for a fresh sound to enliven the music. At the same time, the western African music audience, naturally less traditionalist than its counterpart in Nigeria, and, almost by definition, possessed of a huge appetite for novel sounds and sensations, were looking for new performers to discover and enjoy. Enter Segun Adewale and his Superstars, stepping into both breaches with their yo-pop style, a more brash and aggressive derivative of the music of Ade, Obey and Abiodun. Born into a Yoruba royal family (yo-pop is Adewale’s shorthand for Yoruba pop), Adewale successfully overcame parental pressure for him to become a doctor or lawyer, and on leaving school immediately joined juju godfather I.K. Dairo’s band in Lagos. He then joined Chief S.L. Atolagbe’s Holy Rainbow before forming the Superstars in 1973. The band released Kogbodopa Finna-Finna, before breaking up in early 1974. Towards the end of that year, Adewale joined Prince Adekunle’s Western Brothers Band as co-leader with Sir Shina Peters. He remained with the band until 1977, when he and Peters left, taking six other members with them, to form Shina Adewale And The Superstars International. Peters left in 1979, and in 1980 Adewale put together his second 20-strong Superstars line-up. Initially playing a style closely allied to that of Ade, Adewale’s yo-pop emerged as a distinctive and genuinely new sound on the 1982 album Endurance (the Superstars’ fifth album). Elements of funk, reggae and highlife were blended into the juju foundation, while the band crashed into their music with an aggressive abandon unusual among modern juju exponents. Adewale subtitled yo-pop “kick and start music” and it was this emotional intensity and speedy drive, more than the eclectic range of styles represented in the band’s music, that gave yopop its unique character – and, especially for Western audiences, its instant appeal. In 1984, the band’s eighth Nigerian album, Play For Me (which featured a smattering of English lyrics), was released in the UK by specialist record label Stern’s Records, and they played a triumphant one-off promotional gig at London’s Venue club. A second Stern’s album, Ojo Je, a compilation of material already available in Nigeria, was released in 1985, and the Superstars returned to the UK to play three acclaimed concerts at the Edinburgh International Festival. Having burned extremely brightly in Nigeria and the UK between 1983 and 1986, Adewale’s star faded somewhat in the late 80s. In Nigeria, the initial impact created by yo-pop’s brash urgency failed to engender sustained interest, while juju itself began to lose ground to the closely related, but more roots-orientated fuji style. In the UK, the African music audience also moved on. Nevertheless, the Superstars’ late 80s albums remain every bit as exciting as the earlier, more commercially successful, Endurance, Play For Me or Ojo Je. However, in 1989 the lack of an international breakthrough engendered a break-up in the Superstars’ ranks, and by 1990′s Cash And Carry Adewale was launching opportunistic attacks on fuji music as the self-appointed defender of juju.
 
 
 
CONCLUDED
 
 Culled from “africanheritage”
 

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