Artist Profiles: Bola Abimbola

Bola Abimbola

Bola Abimbola was born in 1966 and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, the large African metropolis that gave us celebrated African musical pioneers Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade. With a childhood full of singing and drumming in the traditions of Yoruba and West African culture, a career in music came naturally to him. He debuted professionally as a songwriter and producer for some of Nigeria?s most successful young artists, including Daddy Showkey, Saheed Osupa and Pasuma.

In 1997, he released his first recording as a solo act, titled, Buyanga, which earned him the honor of being named Artist of the Year at Nigeria’s Fame Awards in 1998. His talents then caught the attention of King Sunny Ade, who invited Bola to tour with him as a guest artist and backing vocalist. Bola appeared with Sunny on his 1999 world tour and at several WOMAD (World of Music, Arts, and Dance) festivals. King Sunny Ade’s recording, Seven Degrees North (2000), also features Bola’s voice.

After leaving Sunny’s band, Bola relocated to the United States to study and share influence with American musicians. He completed another album, titled, ‘Kekerenke’, which was released in Nigeria in 2000, and reflects his love of American Rhythm and Blues. With an enthusiasm for worldliness and all things percussion, Bola has been recording and touring with other like-minded artists, such as Grammy-winning Nigerian percussionist Sikiru Adepoju (Babatunde Olatunji, Mickey Hart) and master conguero Giovanni Hidalgo (Tito Puente, Paul Simon, Eddie Palmieri).

Stylistically, Bola Abimbola is known for his versatility, equally comfortable with: traditional Nigerian genres of Juju, Highlife, and Apala; contemporary African popular music, like Afrobeat and Fuji; plus American Pop and R&B. He has even made successful forays into Reggae, Soca, Soukous, and Electronica.

Bola currently resides in Denver, Colorado. He performs regularly throughout the United States, where he finished a full-length album, Ara Kenge, his first U.S. solo release. It features a cast of diverse, talented and noteworthy musicians, rich vocal harmonies, traditional Yoruba percussion, Afrobeat groove, and a touch of pop song structure and production.

In 2017 he released an album titled Free.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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