Friday, 18 September 2015

King Sunny Ade

Sunday Adeniyi, popularly known as "King" Sunny Adé, was born 69 years ago on the 22nd day of September 1946.

Sunny Adé is a successful Nigerian Musician, a profound Singer, a brilliant Songwriter, a wonderful multi-instrumentalist, a dazzling dancer and, of course, a pioneer of modern world music. He has been classed as one of the most influential musicians of all time.

The Music Grand-master was born to a Nigerian Royal Family in Ondo State, thus making him an Omoba of the Yoruba people. His father was a church organist, while his mother was a trader. Adé left grammar school in Ondo under the guise of going to the University of Lagos. There, in Lagos, his mercurial musical career started.

Sunny Adé'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 a new band, The Green Spots, in 1967. Over the years, for various reasons ranging from changes in his music to business concerns, Sunny Adé's band changed its name several times, first to African Beats and then to Golden Mercury.

In the 1970s and 1980s the Maestro embarked on a tour of America and Europe where he played to mixed (both black and white) 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, "If you come to see Sunny Adé live, you must be prepared to groove all night."

After more than a decade of resounding success in Africa, the Virtuoso Guitarist was received to great acclaim in Europe and North America in 1982. The global release of Juju Music and its accompanying tour was "almost unanimously embraced by critics (if not consumers) everywhere". Adé was described by The New York Times' as "one of the world's great band leaders", and in Trouser Press as "one of the most captivating and important musical artists anywhere in the world".

His next album, Syncro System (1983), was equally successful and earned him his first Grammy Award nomination in the folk/ethnic music category.

After the death of Bob Marley, Island Records began looking for another developing world artist to put on its contract, while Fela Kuti had just been signed by Arista Records. Producer Martin Meissonnier introduced King Sunny Adé to Chris Blackwell, leading to the release of Juju Music in 1982.

Robert Palmer claims to have brought King Sunny Adé to Island's attention, his familiarity being from his life on Malta in the 60s listening to African Radio and Arm Forces Radio. Many music aficionados are quick to point out that Sunny Adé's brand of music Juju could not be ignored.

Today, this seminal recording is often acclaimed as one of the most important records from Africa. Adé gained a wide following with this album and was soon billed as "the African Bob Marley".

Sunny Adé 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 artists such as Manu Dibango (Wakafrika) and Stevie Wonder (played harmonica in Aura).

At the beginning of another round of tour of the United States and Canada, Sunny Adé, now known as The Chairman in Nigeria, was appointed a visiting professor of music at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. In July the same year King Sunny Adé was inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame, at the Brooklyn African Festival in the United States. He dedicated the award to the late Michael Jackson.

The ever-smiling and ever-jovial King Sunny Adé is set to mark his 69th birthday in four (4) days that is the 22nd of September 2015. Without an iota of doubt the impact he has made on the Music Industry in Yorubaland, and by extension, Nigeria at large, would be celebrated for several decades to come. 

KSA is no doubt a connoisseur of fine music.

Acknowledgment: Dawn Commission
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