Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lijadu Sisters

Knitting Factory Records is re-releasing four long-out-of-print albums from the Afro-Beat pioneers the Lijadu Sisters, one of the very few female-led acts to gain traction in Nigeria in the mid-to-late 1970s. The Lijadu sisters were second cousins to Fela Kuti (and also Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka), but had difficulty breaking through taboos against female songwriter/artists in Africa in the 1970s. Ginger Baker was a fan and brought them to Europe, including an appearance at a cultural festival connected to the Munich Olympics in 1972.

The sisters recorded four albums in the 1970s, now considered classics. I've got Danger, recorded in 1976, and it's a wonderful blend of African and reggae rhythms, American funk and soul and socially conscious protest music. Knitting Factory is also reissuing Mother Africa (1977), Sunshine (1978) and Horizon Unlimited (1979). They have a song, "Orere Elejigbo" on the fabulous Nigeria 70 compilation.

The Lijadu's run ended when Kehinde suffered a terrible accident, falling and breaking her spine. Though expected, at first, to die, she recovered, but the pair was unable to perform afterwards. The two now live in Harlem together.

Here they are (briefly) performing with Ginger Baker.

and longer track from Danger, but without live footage.

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