Highlife Musicians in Nigeria | List of Nigerian highlife musicians (Updated 2022)

Highlife Musicians in Nigeria | List of Nigerian highlife musicians (Updated 2022)
Highlife Musicians In Nigeria Highlife Musicians In Nigeria

List of Nigerian highlife musicians [2022 Updated]

The famous Nigerian highlife musicians in this list are listed in alphabetical order. In Nigeria, there are numerous musical subgenres.

These include Highlife, Apala, Were music, Fuji music, and Jùj music.  Despite having its roots in Ghana, highlife has become popular in several west African nations, including Nigeria. We are going to show you List of Nigerian highlife musicians, read on.


Highlife musicians in Nigeria

  • Fela Kuti

  • Ebenezer Obey

  • Femi Kuti

  • Fela Sowande

  • Flavour N’abania

  • Bola Johnson

  • Bright Chimezie

  • Bobby Benson

  • Babá Ken Okulolo

  • The Cavemen

  • Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe

  • Fatai Rolling Dollar

  • Dr Sir Warrior

  • I. K. Dairo

  • Orlando Julius Ekemode

  • Osita Osadebe

  • Oliver De Coque

  • Oriental Brothers

  • Orlando Owoh

  • Sunny Ade

  • Seun Kuti

  • Roy Chicago

  • Rex Lawson

  • Prince Nico Mbarga

  • Wilberforce Echezona

  • Victor Uwaifo

  • Victor Olaiya


Are are the List of Nigerian highlife musicians.

Fela Kuti

Highlife Musicians In Nigeria Highlife Musicians In Nigeria
Highlife Musicians In Nigeria

Fela Anklápó Kuti, also known as Abami Eda, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, composer, political activist, and Pan-Africanist. He was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti on October 15, 1938 and passed away on August 2, 1997.

He is credited with being the creator of the African music genre known as Afrobeat, which fuses jazz and funk from the United States with West African music.  He was hailed as one of Africa’s “challenging and compelling music performers” at the height of his fame.  According to AllMusic, he has a significant international musical and sociopolitical voice.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, an advocate for women’s rights in Nigeria, was the father of Kuti. He and his band Africa 70, which included drummer and musical director Tony Allen, rose to fame in Nigeria during the 1970s after some early experiences abroad. During this time, he was a vocal opponent of and target of Nigeria’s military juntas.

In 1970, he established the commune known as the Kalakuta Republic, which proclaimed its independence from military administration. A raid in 1978 completely destroyed the settlement.

He was imprisoned in 1984 by the Muhammadu Buhari administration but was released after 20 months. He kept on performing and recording throughout the 1980s and 1990s. His son, , has been in charge of his music’s reissues and compilations since his passing in 1997.


Ebenezer Obey

Highlife Musicians In Nigeria Highlife Musicians In Nigeria
Highlife Musicians In Nigeria

Ebenezer Remilekun Aremu Olasupo Obey-Fabiyi, MFR, also known as the “Chief Commander,” is a Nigerian jùj musician. He was born on April 3, 1942, in Idogo, Nigeria.

Obey was born on April 3, 1942 into a family with Egba-Yoruba ancestry. He belongs to the Egba’s Owu subgroup. Ebenezer Remilekun Aremu Olasupo Fabiyi, often known as Obey, was born in Idogo, Ogun State, Nigeria, and is of Egba-Yoruba descent. He belongs to the Egba’s Owu subgroup.

Following his relocation to Lagos in the mid-1950s, Ebenezer Obey started his professional career. After receiving instruction from Fatai Rolling-group, Dollar’s he founded The International Brothers in 1964, a highlife-jùj fusion band. The group then changed its name to Inter-Reformers in the early 1970s, releasing a number of successful Juju albums on the West African Decca record label.

By including more drum kits, guitars, and talking drums into the band, Obey started experimenting with Yoruba percussion and growing the ensemble. Obey is most known for incorporating complex Yoruba principles into his -floor tunes.

The Inter-Reformers band excels at praising wealthy Nigerian socialites and business tycoons, as is typical of Nigerian Yoruba social-circle music. Obey has since retired into a ministry of Nigerian gospel music, although he is also well known for the Christian spiritual themes in his work.

It will also be noteworthy to mention that Chief Commander, as he is affectionately known by his admirers, performed on stage with gospel music legend Pastor Kunle Ajayi during his 30th anniversary event in Lagos.


Femi Kuti

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Highlife Musicians In Nigeria

, real name Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti, is a Nigerian musician who was born in London and raised in Lagos. He was born on June 16, 1962. He is the oldest child of , the father of Afrobeat, and the grandchild of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, a political activist, women’s rights advocate, and traditional nobleman.

started out as a member of his father’s band, Egypt 80. Femi formed his own band, Positive Force, in 1986 to forge a career for himself as a musician separate from his father’s legacy.

Femi Anikulapo Kuti was raised in the old capital of Nigeria, Lagos, and was born in London to Fela and Remilekun (Remi) Ransome-Kuti (née Taylor; 1941-2000). Soon after taking Femi to live with her, his mother abandoned his father. Femi made the decision to live with his father, nonetheless, in 1977.

At the age of 15, Femi began studying the saxophone and eventually joined his father’s band. He attended Baptist Academy and Igbobi College for his education.

Femi has devoted his career to social and political causes, just like his father.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Femi’s grandmother, was a political activist and women’s rights advocate.

Femi believes that his mother, Remilekun Taylor, has had the most impact on his life, despite the fact that he is the son of an international legend.

In the late 1980s, he formed Positive Force alongside Dele Sosimi (Gbedu Resurrection), a former Fela Anikulapo Kuti keyboardist. His international career began in 1988 when he accepted invitations to perform at the Festival d’Angoulême (France), the New Morning Club in Paris, and the Moers Festival in Germany from the French Cultural Centre in Lagos and Christian Mousset.

On his album Fight to Win from 2001, Femi worked with several US musicians, including Common, Mos Def, and Jaguar Wright.

Another contribution Femi made to Red Hot & Riot, a compilation CD honoring that was issued by the Red Hot Organization and MCA, was a version of his father’s timeless song “Water No Get Enemy.”

All CD sales revenues from Femi’s song, which was produced in collaboration with hip-hop and R&B musicians D’Angelo, Macy Gray, The Soultronics, Nile Rodgers, and Roy Hargrove, were given to organizations combating AIDS.

’s voice can be heard in Grand Theft Auto IV, a videogame, where he serves as the host of radio station IF 99. (International Funk 99, described as “playing a great selection of classics from West Africa, the US and elsewhere”).

Similar to his father, Kuti has come under fire for his criticism of his native Nigeria, particularly in the songs “Sorry Sorry,” “What Will Tomorrow Bring,” and “97”.

Four times—in 2003, 2010, 2012, and 2013—Femi was nominated for a Grammy in the global music category, but she never took home the prize.

A management agreement was made between Chocolate City Music Group and Femi Kuti on December 19, 2014. Both Audu Maikori’s social media pages and the official Chocolate City Music Instagram account shared the news.

Femi Kuti and his son Made Kuti launched their two-album project, Legacy+, on February 5, 2021, via Partisan Records. Stop the Hate, Femi’s eleventh album, and For(e)ward, Made’s first album, are both included in the collection.


Fela Sowande

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Highlife Musicians In Nigeria

Nigerian musician and composer Chief Olufela Obafunmilayo “Fela” Sowande MBE lived from 29 May 1905 to 13 March 1987. Sowande, who is regarded as the founder of contemporary Nigerian art music, is arguably the best-known African author of compositions in the “classical” European tradition.

Born in Abeokuta, close to Lagos, Sowande (pronounced “shoh-WAHN-daye”) is the son of Emmanuel Sowande, a priest and innovator of Nigerian church music. He participated in the Cathedral Church of Christ Choir as a child. He attended King’s College in Lagos as well as the C.M.S. Grammar School.

In his formative years, Dr. T. K. Ekundayo Phillips, a composer, organist, and choirmaster, had a significant effect. Sowande was a chorister at the time and was exposed to the new Yoruba compositions that were being introduced into the churches.

He studied the organ under Phillips at that time, learning Bach and other European classical masterworks, and received the Fellowship Diploma (FRCO) from the Royal College of Organists. He led a band playing jazz and mainstream highlife songs at the time. Each of these had a big impact on his work.


Fatai Rolling Dollar

Highlife Musicians In Nigeria Highlife Musicians In Nigeria
Highlife Musicians In Nigeria

He began his musical career in 1953 and has served as a mentor to several artists, including the late and Ebenezer Obey. The last big hit for Rolling Dollar, who was noted for his skill with the guitar, was “Won Kere Si Number Wa.”

and his African Rhythm Band, an eight-piece ensemble he founded in 1957, produced a number of seven-inch singles for Phillips West Africa Records.

He passed away quietly while sleeping. In Ikorodu, Lagos, he was laid to rest. In Nigeria, he was the oldest living musician. Chief Olufela Obafunmilayo “Fela” Sowande, a musician and composer from Nigeria, lived from 29 May 1905 to 13 March 1987.

As the man credited with creating modern Nigerian art music, Sowande is undoubtedly the most well-known African composer of works in the “classical” European tradition.

Sowande (pronounced “shoh-WAHN-daye”) was born in Abeokuta, a city close to Lagos. He is the son of Emmanuel Sowande, a priest and pioneer of Nigerian church music. As a youngster, he sang in the Cathedral Church of Christ choir. He attended both the C.M.S. Grammar School and King’s College in Lagos.




Chinedu Okoli, better known by his stage name Flavour N’abania or simply Flavour, is a Nigerian singer. He was born on November 23, 1983. He started out playing music as a drummer for a nearby church. Because of his popular song “Nwa Baby (Ashawo Remix),” Flavour is well-known throughout Africa and the rest of the world. He is presently under contract with 2nite Entertainment.

He released his debut record, N’abania, in 2005. Uplifted, Flavour’s second studio album, was released in 2010. The tracks “Nwa Baby (Ashawo Remix),” “Adamma,” and “Oyi Remix” served as its backbone. Flavour became one of Africa’s most in-demand musicians as a result of the album’s success. After the release of Uplifted, he was scheduled to play at a lot of concerts and gatherings.

Flavour was born in Enugu State, Nigeria, and is highly known for his ability to sing proficiently in the Igbo language. His family hails from Umunze in the Nigerian state of Anambra (Orumba South LGA).

Flavour started playing the drums for his Enugu church choir when he was just 13 years old, launching his musical career. He was introduced to Chris I. Ordor, the CEO of SoundCity Communications, by the resident pastor at his church.

Flavour was given the opportunity to join the business in 1996 while receiving a scholarship for his music studies.

Flavour began playing the drums professionally three years after he first picked up the instrument. He stopped playing the drums in 1999 and began playing the keyboard.  Additionally, he used to sing harmony with other musicians at SoundCity.

Dr. T. K. Ekundayo Phillips, a composer, organist, and choirmaster, had a profound impact on him during his early years. Sowande was exposed to the new Yoruba compositions that were being introduced into the churches while he was a chorister at the time.

He learned Bach and other European classical masterworks while studying the organ under Phillips at that time, gaining the Fellowship Diploma (FRCO) from the Royal College of Organists. At the time, he was the leader of a band that played jazz and popular highlife music. All of these had a significant influence on his work.


Babá Ken Okulolo

Born on September 12, 1950, Babá is a bassist and bandleader from Nigeria. He made his American debut in 1985 as a member of King Sunny Ade’s world-tour band.

He has collaborated with notable Afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo Kuti, highlife king , and Monomono, an Afro-rock band that he founded in the 1970s. His four bands, Kotoja (an international Afro-funk band), the Nigerian Brothers (traditional folk music), the West African Highlife Band (highlife tunes from the past), and the Afro-Beat Connexion—all of which are based in the San Francisco Bay Area—represent his diverse musical talents (modern Afrobeat collaboration with other African and American musicians).

Additionally, Babá Ken has performed at the Angeles County Museum of Art, the Oakland Coliseum, The Fillmore, The Warfield, Yoshi’s, The Greek Theater, and the Great American Music Hall.


Bobby Benson

Bernard Olabinjo “Bobby” Benson, a performer and musician who lived from 11 April 1922 to 14 May 1983, had a significant impact on the Nigerian music industry by fusing big band and Caribbean idioms with the Highlife genre of popular West African music. [Bernard Olabinjo Benson was born into an aristocratic family on April 11, 1921, in Ikorodu, Lagos State.

T. O. S. Benson, his older brother, was a successful politician (1917–2008). He studied tailoring while in high school, but after graduating, he briefly entered the boxing world before joining the Merchant Navy as a sailor. He disembarked from his ship in London in 1944, and while touring various European cities with the Negro Ballet, he made his stage debut.

Whenhe returned to Nigeria in 1947, he married Cassandra, who is half Scottish and half Caribbean in origin. Together, they founded the Bobby Benson and Cassandra Theatrical Party.

He played guitar and saxophone while his wife danced as they performed serious music. Due to the success of his music, he started the swing, jive, samba, and calypso-playing dance band known as the Bobby Benson Jam Session.

He increased the size of his band to 11 people in the 1950s, including a trumpet section, and started performing in the well-liked highlife genre. “Taxi Driver,” their first significant hit, was followed by a number of others.

Benson was a fantastic performer who excelled as a singer, comedian, and entertainer. He performed as a stand-up comedian, magician, musician, and singer on a show he had on NTA in the 1970s. Hugh Masekela and B.B.

King became his friends. Benson founded the Caban Bamboo, a well-liked club that was eventually transformed into the Hotel Bobby. He had ten kids and various marriages. Benson passed away on Saturday, May 14, 1983, in Lagos.

Bobby Benson, a forerunner of Highlife music in Nigeria, began by performing traditional big band music before introducing African influences. His song “Taxi Driver,” which incorporated jazz and Caribbean music influences, became a classic hit in West Africa and was covered by numerous other musicians. “Gentleman Bobby,” “Iyawo se wo loss mi,” “Mafe,” “Nylon Dress,” and “Niger Mambo” were other hits.

Several well-known musicians, including , Sir , Bayo Martins, and Zeal Onyia, first appeared in Benson’s band.

, one of the first artists from Nigeria to play highlife with his group the “Cool Cats,” began his career as a trumpet player with Bobby Benson’s band. Eddie Okonta, with his “Lido Band,” was another member of Benson’s band who transitioned into highlife.The development of popular Jùj music was also impacted by Benson’s musical inventions.

American musicians like Stanley Turrentine and Jackie McLean recreated his two biggest hits, “Taxi Driver” and “Niger Mambo,” an African tune with a Latin beat.

On his 1978 CD Rhythms-Sounds Piano, Randy Weston performed “Niger Mambo” solo and claimed that the song perfectly encapsulated West Africa’s “high life style.”

Benson also worked on music with Eddy Grant, a legendary musician who lived in Lagos for many years and frequently performed at the Hotel Bobby.

Since they worked together for a long time, Grant was able to become accustomed to Nigerian culture. As a result, Grant was able to talk and record a number of popular songs and albums in Pidgin English and Yoruba.


Highlife musicians in Nigeria

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