Musician and actor Sola Akingbola has spent most of his life in London, UK, but his roots are in Oregun, Nigeria, where he was born to Yoruba parents. Describing his relationship to Nigeria as a musical odyssey in which he finds his way home via exploration of the unique melodies, rhythmic structures and philosophical poetry of the Yoruba people. Sola reveals his passion for the language of music: “I was always seduced by the sound of the Yoruba language and the way it was expressed within the drumming. When a Yoruba drummer plays, it’s not just music: he’s talking, reciting, teasing, invoking and praising. These qualities open up other worlds of interest for me that go beyond music; worlds that lead me to history, to the essence of my people. ”
Inspired early on by Afro-fusion bands like Fela Kuti and Manu Dibango, Sola’s first journey into Yoruba music was playing percussion and then kit-drum for fellow Nigerian percussionist Gasper Lawal of the Oro Band, who was also based in the UK: “Gasper opened my ears and eyes to a rhythmic perspective that I always felt, but due to a lack of knowledge and technique was unable to realize. The first music I heard was Yoruba. It was inside the language I heard my parents speaking and pulsing through the drumming I soaked up as a child, listening to my dad’s favorite Yoruba artists: King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Ayinia Kollington, Yusuf Olatunji and Haruna Isola.”
Entering the jazz scene in the early 90s with the Ronny Jordan band and then finding his feet for the last decade in the jazz-funk of Jamiroquai, Sola has toured the world and played innumerable major international venues.
His 2007 solo CD, Routes To Roots: Yoruba Drums From Nigeria, took Sola way back to his roots exploring the unique melodies, rhythmic structures and philosophical poetry of the Yoruba people.