Posted on Apr 27
It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of elder music statesman and pioneering Highlife maestro, E.C. Arinze. He was definitely the last of his generation and a pioneering musician whose early efforts paved the way for countless others.
His professionalism and versatility as a musician ensured he was a bandleader the Nigerian government called upon when foreign dignitaries visited the nation and had to be entertained. Equally adept at playing a waltz, Mambo, Highlife or Native blues, his swan song Nike Nike was a childhood favorite and one I fondly remember marching to during my brief stint as a member of the boys brigade. The song is now a Highlife standard and remains widely adopted by marching bands throughout the nation to this day. Read full obituary here
Posted on Feb 02
Come join us for a series of live interactive performances/screenings of excerpts from the film which is currently in post production. The first of these screenings will take place on Thursday, 19th February at the Montclair Art Museum, NJ as part of their annual film forum series. An additional screening will take place on Saturday, 21st Feb. at the Weeksville heritage Center, NY as part of the fabulous After Afropolitan exhibition which features a variety of writers, artists and scholars seeking to push the boundaries of how we perceive the global African diaspora. Come one and all.
Posted on Dec 20
Now, just when we thought we’d moved way beyond filming, along comes an opportunity to interview legendary Ghanaian highlife musician, Ebo Taylor who’ll be performing alongside Siji, Bantu, Nneka, Oranmiyan, Aduke and Yetunde “Omo Ibadan” as part of a monthly, alternative, live music jump off held here in Lagos Nigeria called, Afropolitan Vibes.
Ebo was kind enough to break down the subtle differences between the Ghanaian and Nigerian strains of highlife music popular in post independence west Africa. His guitar playing is as lyrical as ever and I personally eagerly await the chance to share the stage with him tonight.
Posted on Jun 24
We just received news of the passing of Mary Afi Usuah. This comes about a week after the passing of the legendary Fatai Rolling Dollar.At a time when we were struggling to find key female artists of note to feature in our documentary, Mary Afi Usuah’s incredible story and remarkable journey were indeed a welcome relief and a pleasant surprise which lent significant weight to what we were trying to achieve in the first place.
Having attended one of the most prestigious music conservatories in Rome in the ’60’s to study opera singing, Afi Usuah forged ties with a notable array of artists which included the likes of Duke Ellington and Led Zepellin. She forsook a budding and promising career abroad to return home to serve country and flag. Over the years, she mentored and paved the way for a remarkable number of Nigerian female singers.
May she find eternal rest and comfort.
Posted on Jun 12
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of legendary Elder’s Corner featured icon, Pa Fatai Rolling Dollar who passed away earlier on today in Lagos. He had been hospitalized following a brief illness.
It is indeed ironic that the very man whose music acted as the initial catalyst for the project, was the first to gracefully bow out of the spotlight. I fondly recall his last engagement with us a couple of months back during the soundtrack recording sessions held in Lagos. He was the epitome of cool, quietly seated, smiling and taking in our desperate attempts to keep things moving forward. However, Once the mic was turned on, he delivered take after take with the patience and expertise of a seasoned professional, not once losing his cool or pace.
His zest for life, his indomitable spirit and indeed his music left an indelible mark on us all. To be in his company for but a few moments was to be in the presence of a true iconic legend. He’ll be surely missed by all.
Sun’un re o!
Posted on Mar 25
We gathered a stellar cast of musicians and singers to record the Elder’s Corner movie soundtrack at the legendary Afrodesia Studios in Lagos. Some of the featured elders included, Ebenezer Obey (pictured above), Fatai Rolling Dollar, Paulson Kalu, Jimi Solanke and Dele Ojo. Backed by movie co-producer Ade Bantu’s young and dynamic band, The Agbero Boys, we captured magical moments in the studio for prosperity. This brings our filming to conclusion and we can safely move on to post production. It’s been a whirlwind experience for all involved.
Posted on Jan.18
An apple never falls far from the tree. Sassy yet regal, Yeni Kuti held us in rapture as she relived her childhood memories growing up as the eldest child of legendary Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
She also gave us a far too often overlooked female perspective on her father, his mercurial talents as a musician and composer, the many challenges he faced under successively repressive military regimes, as well as the delicate task it took to commandeer a harem filled with colorful and sensual female admirers and wives.
Posted on Dec.20
From L to R, Orlando Julius, Fatai Rolling Dollar and Paulson Kalu grace the stage together for the first time ever. It was a truly magical evening.
Posted on Dec.08
Elders Corner goes LIVE on Sat.8.Dec @Freedom Park, Lagos feat. legendary & iconic highlife greats: Fatai Rolling Dollar, Orlando Julius & Paulson Kalu performing alongside modern day contemporary Afrofunksters Bantu, Siji & Aduke.
Posted on Nov.08
The elusive “Evil Genius”, Dr Victor Abimbola Olaiya finally granted us an audience after months of intensive lobbying by friends, family and yours truly. Better late than never I say. As one of highlife music’s brightest stars, Victor Olaiya’s influence was indeed vast and far flung…. read more.
Posted on Sept. 17
I dropped in on Elder’s Corner icon, Joni Haastrop of legendary Afro/Soul group, Monomono, during one of their band rehearsals.
To watch him up close putting the band through it’s paces and going through time tested classics was truly awe inspiring. Though physically impaired due to a stroke suffered a couple of years back, he’s lost none of his drive, passion and love for mistress music.
To state that Sandra Isidore turned Fela on would be an understatement for she not only turned him on musically, she also helped awaken his psyche to the latent powers his music possessed and how they could be used to educate and enlighten the millions of his kinsmen to the grave injustices they suffered in their daily lives.
Afrobeat could never have had the intoxicating and strong impact it had on it’s many listeners without the politically charged and provocative lyrics boldly sung by Fela. In many ways, Sandra Isidore provided the spark that ultimately helped ignite the keg. She was and remains one helluva muse.
We recently caught up with writer, ethnologist and political scientist, Carlos Moore at his residence in Salvador, Bahia.
Back in 1977, Carlos Moore was pegged to spearhead public relations for the worlds second festival of arts and culture (FESTAC), held at the time in Lagos, Nigeria. It was during his rather fascinating yet turbulent tenure that he got to meet the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The two subsequently became lifelong friends and close confidants which eventually led to his writing of Fela’s autobiography, ‘This Bitch of A Life‘ upon which the current smash, broadway musical, ‘FELA‘ is based.
Carlos waxed lyrical about his visit to Nigeria in the 70’s, as well as precious time spent with the maestro himself and drew a rather fascinating picture of the man, his myth, music and personal influences.
Fatai Rolling Dollar, the maverick musician whose work, life and music lit the spark that started it all. Halfway through the opening strains of his original classic ‘Won Kere Si Number wa’, and I was stone gone. …. read more.
Dan Satch and his cohorts named themselves the Oriental Brothers to signify their eastern Nigerian heritage. Their sound evolved out of the congolese guitar bands that became increasingly popular and highly influential in west Africa during the early 1970’s. It also showcased some of the intricate polyrhythmic patterns that typified Igbo Highlife music…. read more.
Man, Etubom Rex Williams sure can blow. With headphones on, I forgot to turn down my levels and then he kissed his horn. Sweet Jesus!!!! Crisp, clear and piercing, my toes curled as he swung into one of his early classics. Even Louis Armstrong took notice during his heady tour of West Africa in 1960…. read more.
Paulson Kalu’s golden pipes sure demand rapt attention. A soulful troubadour and witty philosopher, Kalu got his start backing Osita Osadebe who was quick to spot his burgeoning talents and encouraged a solo career…. read more.
We rounded off our eastern tour with the very last of Nigeria’s highlife big band leaders, the legendary E.C. Arinze.
His eyes lit up as we walked in and he pulled out his axe for yet another blow…. read more.
Singer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist, sculpturer, painter, inventor, athlete, self proclaimed genius,…… Victor Uwaifo was the first African to be awarded a gold disc for his 1965 hit ‘Joromi‘. According to him, a childhood, seaside encounter with a mermaid spurned his followup hit, ‘Guitar Boy’…. read more.
You never forget your first recording session, especially as a 13yr old child prodigy. Waka queen, Salawa Abeni burst unto the scene in the late 70’s and broke with an age old tradition by choosing to stand whilst performing live as opposed to the laid back, sit and croon style adopted by the many griots who’d come before her. Thus begun her joyous reign as the darling of Waka music…. read more.
Name checked by Ellington, toured with the likes of legendary rock group, Led Zeppelin and Aretha Franklin as well as a graduate of one of the most prestigious Italian music conservatory’s in Rome. Opera trained, Mary Afi Usuah was on the cusp of superstardom in Europe when she forsook all to serve country and flag in Nigeria during the early 1970’s…. read more.
The Ikenga superstars got their start as members of highlife superstar Osita Osadebe’s backing band. They jumped ship mid tour in London whilst accompanying him to start their own outfit, The Ikenga Superstars of Africa…. read more.
As can be seen, the eyes tell it all. The Elders Corner film project finally wormed it’s way to the eastern corner of Nigeria to catch up with the oldest active conguero in the Niger Delta, Tony Odili…. read more.
Posted on January 25
Posted on January 17
After much painstaking research and investigative work, we were finally able to catch up and gather together key members of seminal Afro, Psychedelic outfit, ‘Monomono‘ in California for Elders Corner…. read more.