King Sunny Adé
King Sunny Adé
|Birth name||Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye|
|Born||22 September 1946|
|Genres||Jùjú, African pop|
Chief Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye (born 22 September 1946), known professionally as King Sunny Adé, is a Nigerian jùjú singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is regarded as one of the first African pop musicians to gain international success, and has been called one of the most influential musicians of all time.
Adé was born in Osogbo to a Nigerian royal family from Ondo and Akure, thus making him an Omoba of the Yoruba people. His father was a church organist, while his mother was a trader. As a member of the Adesida dynasty, his mother's relatives would later include Adebiyi Adegboye Adesida Afunbiowo II, a future king of Akure.
Adé left grammar school in Ondo City under the pretense of going to the University of Lagos. It was thus in Lagos that his mercurial musical career began.
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.
King Sunny was influenced by Juju pioneer Tunde Nightingale and borrowed stylistic elements from his ‘So wa mbe’ style of juju.
He founded the King Sunny Ade Foundation, an organization that includes a performing arts center, a state of the art recording studio, and housing for young musicians.
He is a visiting lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and recipient of the Order of the Federal Republic.
In the 1970s and 1980s Adé 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 his native Nigeria, Adé 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 in The New York Times as "one of the world's great band leaders", in Record as "a breath of fresh air, a positive vibration we will feel for some time to come" 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, earned him his first Grammy Award nomination in the ethnic/traditional folk recording category, hence making him the first Nigerian Grammy award nominee ever
On 16 July 2017, King Sunny Ade announced that he would be returning to stage in London alongside his rival act Ebenezer Obey for a musical comeback themed A Night 2 Remember with the Legends 
A fusion of sounds
A Yoruba griot, Sunny Adé'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 jùjú 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 singing of dignitaries as well as components of Juju (traditional African belief) called the Ogede (casting of spells). Hence, Adé's music constitutes a record of the oral tradition of his people for posterity.
Sunny Adé introduced the pedal steel guitar to Nigerian pop music. He introduced the use of synthesizers, clavinet, vibraphone, tenor guitar into the jùjú music repertoire such as dub and wah-wah guitar licks. Adé said he used these instruments not as an attempt to innovate, but as a substitute for traditional jùjú instruments which were too difficult to find and/or impractical for touring. The pedal steel guitar, for instance, was added to his repertoire as a sound-alike for an African violin.
Sunny Adé with his band invented his unique sound and instrumental which he mostly use as an entrance song during live performances. The sound was made with a phalanx of electric guitars that functions like a percussion section, and talking drums that sound like a gossipy Greek chorus.
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 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 Armed Forces Radio. Adé gained a wide following with this album and was soon billed as "the African Bob Marley".
Sunny Adé 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.
Sunny has collaborated with major artists such as Manu Dibango (Wakafrika) and Stevie Wonder (who played harmonica on Aura), as well as younger Nigerian artists such as Wasiu Alabi Pasuma and Bola Abimbola.
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, a collection of traditional Yoruba songs, 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 Adé is also prominent in his native Nigeria, running multiple companies in several industries, creating a non-profit organisation called the King Sunny Adé Foundation, and working with the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria.
In recent times, hip hop music appears to be holding sway with the electronic media in Nigeria with massive airplays. Nonetheless, Sunny Adé'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 Adé and late Fela Kuti are noted for. The musician Lagbaja is one of the many musicians whom Sunny Adé's music has inspired. 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, Sunny Adé, now known as The Chairman in his home country, was appointed a visiting professor of music at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife. In July of that 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 Michael Jackson.
In the 1980s Adé embarked on a career in Hollywood. He featured in few Nollywood movies in the early 2000s. 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.
|Breathless||King Sunny Adé (Music)||1983|
|O.C. and Stiggs||King Sunny Adé (Music & appearance)||1985 (Filmed 1983)|
|One More Saturday Night||King Sunny Adé (Music)||1986|
|Fifty||King Sunny Adé (Music & appearance)||2015|
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- Gini Gorlinski, The 100 Most Influential Musicians of All Time ISBN 978-1-61530-006-8, Publisher: Rosen Education Service (January 2010)
- "Breaking News Today In Nigeria | Look Naija Blog: King Sunny Ade Appointed As Change Begins With Me Ambassador". Looknaija.blogspot.com. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
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- Sheridan, David (1989). Robbins, Ira A. (ed.). The New Trouser Press Record Guide (3rd ed.). New York: Collier/Macmillan. p. 4. ISBN 0-02-036370-2.
- George-Warren, Holly; Romanowski, Patricia, eds. (2001). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. New York: Rolling Stone Press. pp. 6–7. ISBN 9780743220552. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
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- "Here Comes the Sun King" interview and essay, City Pages, 6 April 2005 Archived 27 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- "King Sunny Ade - first Nigerian Grammy Award nominee". Records Nigeria. Archived from the original on 17 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- "King Sunny Ade coming to London for A Night 2 Remember with the Legends". YouTube. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
- "'My dad, Juju music star Ayinde Bakare, was murdered, his corpse dumped at Bonny Camp' BY MIKE AWOYINFA ::: Pressclips Column :::". Archived from the original on 22 August 2009.
- King Sunny Adé interview Archived 2009-07-04 at the Portuguese Web Archive by Jason Gross from Perfect Sound Forever site (June 1998)
- "Robert Palmer interview 1985 - Swimming against the current". YouTube. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- King Sunny Adé, 2005 Archived 12 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, interview by Sean Barlow and Banning Eyre from Afropop Worldwide
- "Shanachie Entertainment". Shanachie.com. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
- Juju: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music by Christopher Alan Waterman (Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology)
- Mitter, Siddhartha (12 July 2009). "From pioneer to ambassador". The Boston Globe.
- "Account Suspended". Propagandapress.org. Archived from the original on 28 July 2009.
- Video on YouTube[dead link]
- "African Stars To Honour King Sunny Ade, Others At AFRIMA". Newsbreak.ng. 20 October 2016. Archived from the original on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- Akan, Joey (1 December 2016). "Music legend gets inducted into Hard Rock hall of fame". Pulse.ng. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
- Qudus, Olabode (2 December 2016). "King Sunny Ade Gets Inducted Into Hard Rock Hall Of Fame". Hip Hop World Magazine. Retrieved 10 December 2016.[permanent dead link]