King Sunny Ade - guitar, vocals
For more than three decades, King Sunny Ade and his African Beats have been thrilling audiences worldwide with their extraordinary music. The Nigerian singer, guitarist, bandleader, and entrepreneur is the acknowledged master of juju, a cross-cultural sound that sends listeners on a remarkable journey into the heart of one of Africa's most vital cultures. His music draws from the many idioms and forms of the Yoruba language, and imbues it with a modern sense of spirituality, politics and honor.
Juju is a thrilling hybrid of Western pop and traditional African music that incorporates electric guitars and synthesizers with such indigenous instruments as talking drums. Lyrically, juju is rooted in the Yoruba tradition of conveying broad social and cultural messages through archetypal proverbs and parables. A remarkably convivial music, juju has at its heart a dynamic and interactive nature that incorporates a plenitude of grooves, call-and-response choruses and polyrhythmic breaks. Multiple lead guitars, harmonic counter-melodies, and shimmering waves of multi-layered percussion blend with sonic surprises - such as reggae and dub sound system effects or the lilting pedal steel guitars of American country & western - that traverse the boundaries of culture and genre.
King Sunny began his extensive career as a member of Moses Olaiya's Federal Rhythm Dandies then later became the bandleader with the Green Spots. Though he has released more than 100 records in Nigeria, King Sunny first became known in the U.S. after his first international album, on Island Records “Juju Music.” (’82) The album's lead track, Jafunmi, became an instant classic, a juju anthem that Adé still plays in every show. Two more Island albums appeared, “Synchro System,” (‘83) and “Aura.” (‘84). When Island then wanted to make more drastic changes to Adé's sound, he balked, and left the label. For the next decade, Adé kept touring, but recorded no new music for the international market. Two live releases appeared, notably “Live Live Juju.” (Rykodisc 1988)