Category: Entertainment

KSA - “King” Sunny Ade

Sunny Ade was born Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye on, 22 September 1946 at Oshogbo. He is a musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and a pioneer of modern world music in the vanguard of the development and international popularization of juju music-a unique fusion of traditional Yoruba vocal forms and percussion. He has been classed as one of the most influential musicians of all time.

KSA was born to a royal family in Ondo, His father was a church organist, while his mother was a trader. Adé 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 (Baba Sala) 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 Ade's band changed its name several times, first to African Beats and then to Golden Mercury.

Prior to Sunny's formation of the African Beats, one of his most notable predecessors, I.K. Dairo, had already modified juju through incorporation of Yoruba “talking” drums-which replicate the tones of Yoruba language-and through extensive use of the call-and-response vocal structure that is typical of the traditional music of many sub-Saharan African peoples, including the Yoruba. Upon this musical foundation, Sunny Ade laid a tapestry of guitar voices infused with the rhythmic and melodic colours of rock and roll. Sunny's early albums with the African Beats, most notably Sound Vibration (1977) and The Royal Sound (1979), were tremendously successful, and, when the press declared Sunny Ade the King of Juju in 1977, the title became integral to his professional persona.

In the 1970s and 1980s Sunny embarked on a tour of America and Europe. His stage act was characterised by dexterous dancing steps and mastery of the guitar.
After more than a decade of resounding success in Nigeria, Sunny was received to great acclaim in Europe and North America in 1982. After the death of Bob Marley, Island Records began looking for another third world artist 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 the release of Juju Music in 1982. Sunny Ade gained a wide following with this.

Sunny Ade's brief recordings with Island Records opened the floodgates for other world music artists like Senegalese Youssou N'Dour, Mali's Salif Keita and many others.
Sunny Ade has said 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.
After his separation from Island in 1985, Ade focused his musical activity at home, at which time he also began to shift the topics of his lyrics from the ills of Nigerian society to more-intimate matters of personal struggle. Although he maintained a tight schedule of recording and performances in Nigeria, he continued to make intermittent appearances abroad on the rapidly expanding world music concert and festival circuit, where both he and juju music continued to enjoy a strong following.

The global release of Juju Music and its accompanying tour was "almost unanimously embraced by critics everywhere". Sunny Ade was described in 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 album, Syncro System (1983), was equally successful and earned him his first Grammy Award nomination in the folk/ethnic music category.

Sunny Ade's music and his peculiar application to juju music, easily put him in the same class as guitar musicians like Santana. He introduced the pedal steel guitar to Nigerian pop music as well as the use of synthesizers, clavinet, vibraphone, tenor guitar into the juju music.

Sunny has collaborated with major artists such as Manu Dibango (Wakafrika) and Stevie Wonder (played harmonica in Aura), as well as younger Nigerian artists such as Wasiu Alabi Pasuma and Bola Abimbola.

In 1987, KSA returned to the 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, who negotiated another three album record deal with the Mesa record label (a division of Paradise Group) in America. One of these albums was 1988's Odu, for which he was nominated for the second Grammy Award and thus making him the first African to be nominated twice for a Grammy. Apart from being an international musician Sunny Ade is also run multiple companies in several industries, creating a non-profit organisation called the King Sunny Ade Foundation, and working with the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria.

Sunny Ade's musical output has continued to inspire a vast generation of other Nigerian musicians, who believe in the big band musical set up which Sunny Ade and late Fela Anikulapo Kuti are noted for. Lagbaja is one of the very many musicians whom Sunny's music has inspired.

Sunny's 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.

In 2008, his contributions to world music was recognised; as he was given an award for his outstanding contribution to world music at the International Reggae and World Music Awards held at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.

At the beginning of another round of tour of the United States and Canada in 2009, Sunny Ade was appointed a visiting professor of music at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. In July the same year King Sunny Ade was inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame, at the Brooklyn African Festival in the United States.



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