Every spring or summer, I attend a raucous Nigerian party with non-stop music. People come dressed in eye-popping fashions and dance for three-four hours straight. Every year, I look forward to this party, also called a King Sunny Ade concert.
A typical Sunny Ade concert lasts at least four hours and that’s only if there are parameters like say, the venue has to close. The Minister of Enjoyment, The Chairman, The King of Juju, are titles that Ade has earned for performing blistering sets of the complex, interlocking, guitar and percussion rhythms known as juju. Juju music is rooted in the Yoruba tradition of broad cultural and social commentary. Just one of Ade’s tunes, fortified with a band, The African Beats, of up to 30 members, lasts an average of 40 minutes. It’s the ultimate jam style that has influenced not only countless African musicians but Americans like Phish’s Trey Anastasio as well. A Sunny Ade show pulls out all aspects of Nigerian culture; from fans draped in glittering agbadas, dancing all over the stage and in the stands, eager "spraying" (literally covering the band with money) and an all out fun time.
It has just been announced that King Sunny Ade has cancelled his North American tour. Sadly, two members of his African Beats, Gabriel Ayanniyi (talking drum) and Omo Olope (percussion) were killed in a car accident while on there way to a video shoot. I wish their families condolences, ibae' baye' t'oru'n (Rest In Peace).
Check out this video from a Sunny Ade concert at the Montreal Jazz Fest for a taste of the party: