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Sunny Ade: Great King Of Juju Music

Otunba Sunday Ishola Adeniyi Adegeye (a.k.a. king Sunny Ade), born September 22, 1946, is a popular Nigerian Jùjú music artiste and a pioneer of modern world music. He has been classed as one of the most influential musicians of all time. Sunny Adé was born to a Nigerian royal family in Ondo. His father was a church organist, while his mother was a trader. Ade left grammar school in Ondo under the pretence of going to the University of Lagos. There in Lagos his mercurial musical career started.

Sunny Ade’s musical sound has evolved from the early days. His career began with Moses Olaiya’s Federal Rhythm Dandies, a highlife band. He left to form The Green Spots in 1967. Over the years, for various reasons ranging from change in his music to business concerns, Sunny Ade’s band changed its name several times, first to African Beats and then to Golden Mercury. In the 70s and 80s, Sunny Ade embarked on a tour of America and Europe where he played to mixed audiences. His stage act was characterised by dexterous dancing steps and mastery of the guitar. Trey Anastasio, American guitarist, composer and one of his devout followers, once said.
Sunny Ade’s music is characterised by, among other instruments, the Talking drum – an instrument indigenous to his Yoruba roots, the guitar and his peculiar application to juju music that would easily put him in the same class as guitar musicians like Santana. His music is in the age old tradition of singing poetic lyrics, (“Ewi” in Yoruba) and praise of dignitaries as well components of “juju” (traditional African belief) called the “Ogede”-”casting a spell”. Hence, Adé’s music constitutes a record of the oral tradition of his people for posterity.

 

Sunny Ade was the first to introduce the pedal steel guitar to Nigerian Pop music. He was the first to introduce the use of synthesizers, clavinet, vibraphone, tenor guitar into the juju music repertoire such as dub and wah-wah guitar licks. After the death of Bob Marley, Island Records began looking for another third world artiste to put on its contract. While Fela Kuti had just been signed by Arista Records, producer Martin Meissonnier introduced King Sunny Ade to Chris Blackwell, leading to their release of Juju Music in 1982. Many music aficionados are quick to point out that Sunny Ade’s brand music of Juju could not be ignored by anyone at the time. Today, this seminal recording is often acclaimed as one of the most important records from Africa. Ade gained a wide following with this album and was soon billed as “the African Bob Marley”.
Sunny Ade has said in the past that his refusal to allow Island to meddle with his compositions and over-Europeanise and Americanise his music were the reasons why Island then decided to look elsewhere. Sunny has collaborated with major artistes such as Manu Dibango (WAKAFRIKA) and Stevie Wonder (played harmonica in Aura). Sunny Ade’s brief recordings with Island records opened the floodgates for other world music artiste like Senegalese Youssou N’Dour, Mali’s Salif Keita and a host of others. Twice Grammy Award Nominee In 1987, Sunny Ade returned to international spotlight when Rykodisc released a live concert he did in Seattle and was given an astonishing embrace by fans across the globe that were eager for another international album release.
He soon employed an American manager, Andrew Frankel, negotiated another three album record deal with the Mesa record label (a Division of Paradise Group) in America. One of these albums was 1998’s Odu, a collection of traditional Yoruba songs, with which he was nominated for the second Grammy Award and thus making him the first African to be nominated twice for a Grammy.
In the 80s, Ade embarked on a career in Hollywood. His music was featured in the 1983 film, Breathless, starring, Richard Gere, and the 1986 comedy, One More Saturday Night, and he acted in Robert Altman’s 1987 comedy O.C. and Stiggs.
At the beginning of another round of tour of the United States and Canada, Sunny Ade, now known as The Chairman Nigeria, was appointed visiting professor of Music at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. In July of the same year, King Sunny Ade was inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame, at the Brooklyn African Festival U.S.A. He dedicated the award to the recently deceased Michael Jackson.

Source From: Leadership.ng

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