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King Sunny Ade Biography, Awards and Songs

King Sunny Ade Biography

King Sunny Ade is a Nigerian musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and a pioneer of modern world music. He was born Sunday Adeniyi on 22 September 1946 to a Nigerian royal family in Ondo, thus making him an Omoba of the Yoruba people. His father was a church organist, while his mother was a trader.

Ade left grammar school in Ondo under the pretense of going to the University of Lagos. There, in Lagos, his mercurial musical career started.

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.

He has been classified as one of the most influential musicians of all time. He was recently appointed as the “Change Begins With Me” campaign ambassador by the Nigerian minister of Information Lai Mohammed

Sunny has collaborated with major artists such as Manu Dibango (Wakafrika) and Stevie Wonder (played harmonica in Aura), as well as younger Nigerian artists such as Wasiu Alabi Pasuma and Bola Abimbola.

Sunny Adé’s brief recordings with Island Records opened the floodgates for other world music artists like Senegalese Youssou N’Dour, Mali’s Salif Keita and many others.

King Sunny Ade

King Sunny Ade

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 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.

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”.

King Sunny Ade Awards

Sunny Adé has received numerous awards during his career. In November 2016 he became a recipient of the AFRIMA award.

In December 2016 he was inducted into Hard Rock Cafe hall of fame.

King Sunny Ade Songs

  • Merciful God
  • Ja Funmi
  • Mo Ti Mo
  • Eri Okan
  • Let Them Say
  • Sunny Ti De
  • Sweet Banana
  • Sunny Ti De Ariya
  • Aiye Nreti Eleya Mi
  • Ariya
  • Ma Jaiye Oni
  • 365 Is My Number / The Message
  • Ase feat. Stevie Wonder
  • Dele Davis
  • Eje Nlo Gba Ara Mi
  • Gbe Kini Ohun De
  • Let Them Say
  • Maajo
  • Mo Ti Kole Mi Sori Apata feat. King Sunny Ade & His African Beats
  • Mo Ti Mo
  • Nibi Lekeleke Gbe Nfosho: Nibi Lekeleke Gbe Nfosho/Gbobgo Lope/Ori Olow
  • Odu Oteyi Yato feat. King Sunny Ade & His African Beats
  • Oluwa lo Yan Mi Wa
  • Oremi
  • Ori Mmi Maje N’Te: Ori Mmi Maje N’Te/Owo Omode O to Pepe/Timu Mi Ni Mo/
  • Samba
  • Synchro Feelings
  • Synchro Series: Synchro Feelings/Ilako Medley
  • Synchro System

King Sunny Ade Music – Video