King Sunny Ade speaks on life as he approaches 70 – ‘I am lucky!’

King of World Beat, Sunday Adegeye, famously known as KSA, will be 70 on September 22, 2016. The gracefully ageing juju maestro spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly on the joy of attaining 69 and still kicking and bouncing when he was cornered on December 23, 2015, at an event in Ikeja, Lagos. He also spoke on other issues affecting Nigeria’s music industry and much more.


At 69 sir, what do you think we need to do to revive Nigerian music?

What we need to do is multiple. We all need to sit down and look inward as to identifying the problems. Already we are in the jet-age, the computer has taken over a greater percentage of instrumentation.

Recently we started copying other people’s music. What I think we need to do is to check and re-check what the problems are.

The only thing I can see clearly is piracy and we lack companies that can take care of the works of musicians. The country’s economy is having challenges, but we are still living. Nigeria is still surviving and in Africa today, Nigerian music is leading. Our own music is really coming up. If you listen to fuji, juju or any other traditional music, no matter how foreign, we make use of less English. If we can follow that, we shall revive our music. Our music is not lost, it’s still there.

You are known for encouraging young artistes, what do you think motivated that?

I was once a young artiste. Today, I thank God that I am 69 and over 50 on stage. And I can tell from experience what artistes are going through. But what I want the young artistes to know is that they are lucky. In those days, no family wanted or allowed their children to make music. Today family members introduce their children to big artistes to put them through.

Moreover, we don’t have many schools of music in Nigeria yet we are still progressing. What I want them to do is to give a sense of belonging to Nigerians, Africans and sense of belonging to music of black people where they have their roots.

Nowadays, we see more of vulgar lyrics. It happened in those days, but it has been corrected. The young artistes are the lucky ones. In those days you have to work hard. Today, you tell the computer to do what you want and you will sing. But I want us to focus far more than that or how long will we borrow ideas from abroad, that means if they change their system, we would have no choice than to change ours. The young artistes of today are trying no doubt about that. All what they need to do is to do what the ears will hear and eyes will see that in 20 years, they will not be ashamed or regret anything.

Nowadays, you see artistes go naked, dancers dance naked on stage and there is nothing one could do since the younger ones embrace it and fans love it. It’s not in the African or Nigerian culture but anytime I am opportuned to meet one on one with any of them, we discuss it.

At 69, you are still very energetic on stage, what is the secret, Sir?

That is the same question people ask me all the time but when I am alone with God, I ask God too. I am just fortunate to have that. I love music.

Moreover, dancing on stage is an exercise on its own. I love sports, I do a lot of sports. I am a tennis player. When I was young, I was an athlete. I love anything sports, dancing on stage, I love it! What I know is that I am lucky to be able to dance that much. Not everybody can dance but you can learn how to dance. Mine is natural. I have been dancing since I was five. Anytime I heard music, I went wild. Anytime they looked for me at home, people would tell my family to go to that party, I know your brother must be there.  The moment they saw me, they would just grab my shirt and took me home. But today, they do not regret it, though nothing good comes easy.

Your works are regarded as classic and they have passed through the test of time. The 21st century artistes don’t do evergreen music, what do you think is the cause of that?

When you say 21st century, they are yet to be in 21st century. When you say classic, classic songs start from five, 10 to 20 years. You cannot release an album within a short period and call it classic. It can only be given a name and it is not even you, it is the people that are really following you that will make it classic and they will let you know it is classic.


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