The juju musician King Sunny Ade a Nigerian native was born in a regal family in Odo. He was important as well as famous due to his mighty and numerous musical records. He was able to produce at least one hundred and eleven albums credited to him in Nigeria. As an African juju musician he was able to incorporate several skills gained from the wide traditional and modernistic approaches.
Basically Ade combined the Yoruba traditional methods of dancing and artistic composure skills. The Juju music he composed communicated various social as well as cultural messages. His songs highly incorporated the ancient Yoruba method of communicating deeply rooted social and cultural issues to various members of the community. He was highly respected for his mercurial musical skills. Ade was able to combine both traditional African and western pop musical principles.
The major unique items he used were electric guitars, African talking drums and synthesizers which were not as common as the other instruments in other parts of the world. This therefore attracted more people than other musicians did. The greatest achievement he had is to have his music attract most of the American and Europe audience as well as producers.
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As a skillful musician he progressed with this career rapidly and gained much popularity. In 1980’s he toured several parts of the United States of America and Europe entertaining his massive audience. He was the king of his African Beats and as a result became the star across the whole Africa just before 1990. He was generally referred to as the minister of enjoyment in most of the places he made his tours.
Ade had several alliances with the producers and bands. He initially joined the Federal Rhythm Dandies highlife band, then left to form his own Green Sports and then formed a record label. He then released the juju music records with the mango records as a supplementary of island records who had just released his band.
In the early 1980’s Ade made several recordings in Nigeria and attracted more local audience than before. In late 1980 his three albums; juju music, Synchro system and Aura became more popular both in Nigeria as well as in the European countries. The European fans labeled him the African bob Marley since they were impressed with his productions. In 1983 however as the two other albums were gaining popularity, the Aura album was not well received. Aura became a commercial disappointment and was rejected by the western audience.
As a result the island recording agency dropped the whole of band headed by Ade. Afterwards band Ade’s band released more albums with anticipations of regaining the reputation. However the album an authority in your ticket caused him great disappointment as well. He never stopped or got discouraged by the consecutive failure. He then directed his energy to more productions and this is when his music star shone brightest.
The subsequent album produced in the late 1980’s was E Dide became a top selling in the musical market both locally and internationally. It was later selected for the Grammy awards. Before long after his Grammy awards he started working on a Yoruba collection of traditional songs. The songs he composed were characterized by an awesome blend of guitars, traditional vocals and ancient Yoruba drums blend not only attracted the Nigeria natives but also the international audience due to the unique application of amiable, energetic, exuberant and celebratory mood.
The completed album was specially referred to as Odu and became very popular in the country. Since it was a collection of traditional songs that incorporated juju, afro pop, Nigerian highlife and African traditional styles, it got nominated for the Grammy awards for the first time. Ultimately he got nominated for the Grammy awards twice and this increased his popularity since he was the first African to receive twofold nominations within a single year. Consequently the subsequent albums like Seven Degrees North among the others came with little resistance and the effects were backed up well by the previous success. Therefore for at least three decades Ade remained musically and otherwise powerful in the whole of Nigeria and the larger parts of Africa.
The Odu album impressed me more due to the various traditional blends of musical styles. As discussed initially the Odu album did not only gain local recognition but also international appreciation and award. Ade specialized in the use of the electric guitar and the traditional vocals. I noticed from the song I listened that the uniqueness came from that he was very skillful. I made comparisons with the previous guitarists I have watched live as they presented in the various categories of music.
However the harmony and composure resulting from the way Ade plays it causes the ambience. I was so impressed by the way he held his guitar with enthusiasm and how he harmoniously swayed his head and body along with the song, Ja Fumni. He did not seem to struggle since the song flowed from within him. I could conclude that Ade was very passionate about the content of the music he presented concerning various issues.
The traditional music Ogede’ that Ade composed was important and placed a mighty challenge on the listeners. This is because the listeners were challenged concerning various moral and ethical issues. The basis of the rebuke in the composition of the song Mo Beru Agba was the moral decadence that had sprung up in the country. The various age groups were not valued or maintained. However everyone was free to do whatever thing they found on their way. The ancient standards clearly outlined the necessary steps the people were expected to keep right and walk on right from their childhood to their adulthood.
However since the new introduction of governance and increased formal education the children grew up without much traditional instruction. To address this Ade composed most of his songs with the age differences put into consideration. He sang the song E Falaba Lewe to address the children rearing issues amongst the parents. The parents had failed to acknowledge the power invested in the parents by God in order to bring up the children. The children had as a result grown up to be disobedient and disoriented in the manner of their dressing and communication.
The common song ‘juju’ sang in the local stations addressed the youths broken morals and in return provided the expected level of moral standard. The Europeans also identified with the songs since most of their youths had sunk into the deep pit of moral decadence and the society seemed to have been deprived of its powers. To address the Government and the education system Ade composed the song with the lyrics ‘Ewi’ which was in praise of the notables in Nigeria. He used this format in order to challenge them by the use of polite words. As most people listened he mixed phrases of praise with the rebuke phrases. The outcome of the song was that instead of banning the song, the government took heed to the claims raised in the song and addressed them. Claims concerned the retirement age, payment of taxes and provision of employment opportunities especially among the youth.
Ade was skilled and specially used his career in music to discover as well as use numerous of instruments and dancing styles. Some of the dancing styles used today in the pop music were generated and used by Ade dancers. He was the first African musician to introduce the use of handle steel guitar in the Nigerian modern music. His application of guitar in the juju music made him get classified as equals with guitar musician Santana. He also introduced the use of instruments like clavinet, vibraphone, tenor guitar and synthesizers in most of his music hits. Therefore the use of tradition in his music composition led to the honor of Yoruba culture globally and more so his songs.
Moreover, Ade’s collaboration with famous recording agencies brought both good and bad to his musical career. Once he collaborated with Manu Dibango and later with Stevie Wonder. However to his wonder the companionship did not yield much fruits since the Aura album they produced together with Stevie was not as popular as anticipated. On the other hand the albums he recorded with the island agency were partly amazing since they became the stepping stone to his success in music. He however dropped most of his collaborations and worked independently. He additionally became a role model to many upcoming musicians like Youssou N’Dour, Lagbaja and Salif Keita among others.
Apart from mercurial music he also ventured in the acting career in Hollywood for some time. He starred as Richard in the play Breathless in early 1980’s, featured in the 1986 film One More Saturday Night as well as acting in a play O.C and Stiggs. An extra responsibility he got while pursuing his musical career is being chosen a vacation music professor in the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife in Nigeria. He also received awards and finally initiated into the Afro Modern Hall of Fame during an African fair in Brooklyn USA. On top of his musical career he took part in the improvement of the Nigeria’s economy. He managed several companies as well as creating a non-governmental foundation which also works with the Nigeria’s Copyright Society.