Lijadu Sisters

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Lijadu Sisters
Born (1948-10-22) October 22, 1948 (age 73)
Died9 November 2019(2019-11-09) (aged 71) (Kehinde)
Harlem, New York, U.S. (Kehinde)
Occupation(s)Singers, songwriters
Years active1965–90, 2014–19
LabelsKnitting Factory Records
Decca Records
Associated acts
  • Taiwo Lijadu
  • Kehinde Lijadu

The Lijadu Sisters (born 22 October 1948), Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu (died 9 November 2019), were identical twin sisters from Nigeria[5] who were a Nigerian music duo from the mid-1960s to the 1980s. They achieved success in Nigeria[6] and had modest influence in the United States and Europe. They were notable for being a West African version of the Pointer Sisters who mixed Afrobeat sounds with jazz and disco, according to one source.[1] Since the late 1980s, they retired from the music scene. They were cousins of popular Nigerian musician Fela Kuti.[7]


The twins grew up in the Nigerian town of Ibadan, and were inspired musically by various artists including Aretha Franklin, Victor Olaiya and Miriam Makeba. They had guidance from music producer Lemmy Jackson who is credited with helping them with their early successes.[6] Their music was a mix of Jazz, Afrobeat, Reggae and Waka. Sometimes they sang in English and other times in African languages.[1] One of their first songs was arranged with assistance from jazz saxophone player Orlando Julius. They released their first album Iya Mi Jowo in 1969 after winning a record contract with Decca Records. They worked with the late Biddy Wright on their third album Danger (1976). They recorded Sunshine in 1978 and Horizon Unlimited in 1979.

The sisters were top stars in Nigeria during the 1970s and 1980s.[6] During these years, they branched out to America and Europe and found modest success. They performed with drummer Ginger Baker's band Salt at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games in Munich at the World Music Festival. The New York Times reported that the sisters were "smiling free spirits" who mixed "sisterly banter and flirtatiousness" in their performances which featured positive messages such as the benefit of returning home.[1] Their reggae number Reincarnation insisted that if reincarnation was a reality, then they would like to be reincarnated again into the home where they grew up.[1] Some of their song lyrics were politically themed.[8] Their harmonies were described as "ethereal".[8]

In 1984 Shanachie Records released Double Trouble in the US which was a compilation of their previously recorded material from their albums Horizon Unlimited and Danger. Their song "Orere Elejigbo" was included on a double CD entitled Nigeria 70, Africa 100, and was added to the Roots & Wings playlist in 1997.[4]

The sisters moved to Brooklyn. They performed in various venues including the lower Manhattan club Wetlands and in Harlem with King Sunny Adé's African Beats as their backing band. They performed with the Philadelphia-based band Philly Gumbo.[1] They were featured in the music documentary Konkombé by English director Jeremy Marre, and their music was featured in the Nigerian instalment of the 14-episode world music series entitled Beats of the Heart which aired on PBS during the late 1980s.

On 1 April 2014, they appeared live at an all-star tribute, the Atomic! Bomb Band, for reclusive Nigerian musician William Onyeabor at the Barbican Centre in London. They sang some of their own tracks including "Danger", as well as providing backing and lead vocals on William Onyeabor material.[9] They also performed with the Atomic! Bomb Band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and on tour dates in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles in May 2014.[10]

On 9 November 2019, Kehinde suffered a stroke and died on the same day, at the age of 71.[11][12]


  • The New York Times music critic Jon Pareles described their music as "a West African parallel to the Pointer Sisters" with a mix of Nigerian Afro-beat, reggae, South African pop with elements of disco and "Memphis soul".[1] Critic Peter Watrous described the sisters sound as "riveting".[8]
  • Reviewer Myles Boisen in All Music Guide wrote that they were "a rarity in the African music scene" and added that they were "liberated twin sisters who share the spotlight on smooth close harmonies and command a sharp, inventive backing band."[13]


Lijadu Sisters
Title Year Label Type Band Notes
Iya Mi Jowo / Jikele – Maweni 1969 Decca album Lijadu Sisters title means "Mother, please"
Danger 1976 Decca, Afrodisia album (LP) Lijadu Sisters Ade Jolaoso (bass), Johny Shittu (keyboards), Biddy Wright (guitar, saxophone, drums)
Mother Africa 1977 Afrodisia, Decca album (LP) Lijadu Sisters
Sunshine 1978 Afrodisia album (LP) Lijadu Sisters Biddy Wright (producer, various instruments), Candido Obajimi (drums), Gboyega Adelaja (keyboards), Jerry Ihejeto (bass)
Horizon Unlimited 1979 Afrodisia album (LP) Lijadu Sisters two versions available; second source says 1983 release[3] Musicians: Friday Jumbo on cleffs and ekwe, Buttley Moore, Nelly Uchendu on drums.
Double Trouble 1984 album Lijadu Sisters [3]
"Orere Eligjigbo" 1997 Shanachie single Lijadu Sisters [4][14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jon Pareles (24 June 1988). "Review/Music; Rock and Reggae By Twin Sisters From Nigeria". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  2. ^ Thomas, Fred. "The Lijadu Sisters". Allmusic. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "The Lijadu Sisters". 1984. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 1984 Double Trouble; 1983 Horizons Unlimited (albums)
  4. ^ a b c "Roots & Wings Playlist May–August 1997 – No. 189 – May 11, 1997". May 1997. Retrieved 22 June 2011. LIJADU SISTERS "ORERE ELEGJIGBO" ALBUM: Holding Up Half the Sky – Voices of African Women – COMP: Lijadu Sisters – LABEL: Shanachie ...
  5. ^ Dada Aladelokun (29 August 2009). "This man won laurel for Nigeria but lost 'everything' to a mysterious fire; now, he seeks manna from heaven". The Nation (Nigeria). Archived from the original on 30 August 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2011. I performed alongside great minds like ... Lijadu Sisters and Ginger Baker.
  6. ^ a b c Adeshina Oyetayo (29 April 2011). "From the studio to the stage: A thorny transition". Punch on the web (Nigeria). Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2011. In the 70s through the 80s, Nigerian music producers were stars in their own right ... Lemmy Jackson, who is credited with the early successes of ... Lijadu Sisters.
  7. ^ aderog. "The Lijadu Sisters | Fela! On Broadway". Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Peter Watrous (10 June 1988). "Sounds Around Town". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 June 2011. King Sunny Ade and the Lijadu Sisters... the riveting Lijadu sisters, who sing political songs in ethereal harmonies...
  9. ^ "Damon Albarn leads supergroup in live tribute to Nigerian funk pioneer William Onyeabor". NME. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  10. ^ DeVille, Chris (11 May 2017). "Watch David Byrne & The Atomic Bomb Band Cover William Onyeabor On Fallon". Stereogum. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  11. ^ Kehinde Lijadu, One Half of the Legendary Lijadu Sisters Has Passed Away
  12. ^ Pareles, Jon (18 November 2019). "Kehinde Lijadu, 71, Outspoken Nigerian Songwriter, is Dead". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 June 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  13. ^ Myles Boisen, All Music Guide (22 June 2011). "The Lijadu Sisters". Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  14. ^ Nils jacobson (14 September 2002). "Various Artists: Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of Funky Lagos (2001)". all about jazz. Retrieved 22 June 2011. Lijadu Sisters, "Orere Elejigbo";

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