King Sunny Ade…Whither The Magic?


In his heyday, King Sunny Ade was a master guitarist, vocalist and singer who held audiences spellbound from Africa to Asia, America to Europe and everywhere else with his stagecraft and dancing mastery. More than five decades after his episodic musical adventure teed off, King Sunny Ade remains the avatar for Juju music.

A spectacle on stage, KSA’s artistry borders on originality, constant innovation and commitment, virtues that have kept him on the top of the list of the busiest Nigerian artistes of all time. For Nigeria’s aristocrats of all tribes, those who have made the social scene buoy and bubble for decades, some of whose anthems formed part of his memorable repertoire; it is either KSA or nobody. He doesn’t come cheap either.

Maybe because of age – he is 73 now; or monotony, he has been doing the same thing for about 55 years; or even complacency, there is no competition for him in that genre; KSA’s stagecraft seems to have lost its traction and lustre. He still does well a few times to make the audience know he is the king of the stage but there have been complaints that the legendary singer is becoming less passionate about his craft.

A recent example was at the traditional wedding ceremony of the daughter of Mo Abudu held last Saturday at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos. For over one hour, the multiple Grammy Awards’ nominee just seemed to be rambling and dancing languorously. After a while, he picked on Femi Otedola and kept singing the billionaire’s praises without corresponding response. The audience looked on, bored and aghast.

It was until the Veentage Band bounded on stage that there was a semblance of a real party. Has age finally caught up with one of Africa’s most iconic musicians so much that he no longer cared if his audience enjoyed his performance? Shouldn’t he quit the stage now that the ovation is still loud?