Lekan Babalola

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Lekan Babalola
Olalekan Babalola

1960 (age 58–59)
Lagos State, Nigeria
NationalityNigerian, British
Alma mater
Spouse(s)Kate Luxmoore
Musical career
GenresAfrobeat, jazz
Occupation(s)musician, percussionist
InstrumentsVocals, conga, Bongo drum
Years active1983–present
Associated acts

Olalekan Babalola (born c. 1960) is a Nigerian jazz percussionist and musician. Born in Lagos State, Nigeria where he began playing the conga at a young age, he has released seven albums and jointly won two Grammy Awards.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Babalola was born in Lagos State, South-Western Nigeria where he attended Bishop Oluwole Primary School, Agege for his basic education before proceeding to Iwo in the old Oyo State for his secondary school education. At the age of six, he had started playing the conga at his father's Aladura church and later formed a patchwork band with his peers.[2]

In 1980, he left Nigeria for the United Kingdom to study automobile engineering at the Chelsea College of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering after he won a Lagos State Scholarship.[3] Babalola however dropped the engineering programme for music and later enrolled at the Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design where he studied filmmaking. He proceeded to the Northern Film School where he completed his master's degree.[4]


He began his professional career after joining a band called Samba Samba Band and later New York City-based Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers band, where he perfected playing the Bongo drums and performing jazz music. Upon his return to the U.K, Babalola later went on to work with notable acts including Prince, Ernest Ranglin, Branford Marsalis, African Jazz All Stars, Roy Ayers, David Byrne, Damon Albarn, Tony Allen amongst others.[4] In 2006, he became Nigeria's first Grammy Award winner for his work on Ali Farka Touré's In the Heart of the Moon which he was credited in three tracks. He also won a second Grammy in 2009 for his work on Cassandra Wilson's 2008 album titled Loverly.[5][6]


  1. ^ Mark, Monica (29 July 2014). "Afrobeat uprising: the musicians fighting against a tide of sugary pop". The Guardian. Lagos. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  2. ^ Taiwo, Jide (13 October 2016). "Meet Lekan Babalola, Nigeria's 1st Grammy Award winner". Nigerian Entertainment Today. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Musician Lekan Babalola: I love freedom of expression". CNN. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b Olatunbosun, Yinka (3 May 2005). "Nigeria: Lekan Babalola – Lord of the Drums". THISDAY Live. allAfrica. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  5. ^ Taiwo, Jide (12 October 2016). "Hiding in plain sight: The story of Lekan Babalola, Nigeria's 1st Grammy Award winner". Nigerian Entertainment Today. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  6. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (14 June 2008). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 46–. ISSN 0006-2510.

External links[edit]