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Homegirl, Aduke, wows at MAPAS 2022

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
10 July 2022   |   4:07 am
Her voice rips through the phone like sound bites. Again and again, it drops in tones. Never mind that the minutes spent talking with Aduke Aladekomo are few.

Aduke

Her voice rips through the phone like sound bites. Again and again, it drops in tones. Never mind that the minutes spent talking with Aduke Aladekomo are few. The feeling is like watching clouds moving across the sky, as it forms and dissolves. She is happy as the conversation rolls on before words and stories settle into silence: An intercourse of lines and movement until action reaches crescendo.

She is really loaded.

“Thank you very much for what you are doing,” she says, her breath is heavy and normal after physical exertion.

Her small act tells its own story, and it deserves great mention.

The wind is howling behind, as the vehicle taking her to the airport for a flight back to London sing the familiar coal tar song.

That was Aduke, as she is popularly called, on Friday, July 8.

“My experience in Spain is heart warming,” she tells The Guardian.

She peddles her humanity like a cross. So, don’t be thrown aback by her dialogues: Self-love and true confidence.

Since she came to limelight some years back, Aduke has continued to wow her audiences with her sexy Yoruba accent, which makes her music a unique taste. She was one of the star performers at the fifth edition of Performing Arts Market of the South Atlantic (PAMAS).

The yearly music and performing arts marketplace, in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain, ended yesterday. Held from July 4 to 9, 2022, it had over 30 music artistes from three continents in performance.

Described as a breath of fresh air, even though she has been on the scene for over a decade, you cannot but wonder why much of this brilliant, talented artist is not heard.

Aduke plays afro-soul, folk, afrobeat, afrojazz and world music, using her primary language, Yoruba, English and pidgin to covey her message and experiment with the use of other languages in the world.

Her deep commitment to the Yoruba language and culture is apparent from her music, lyrics and how she carries herself, and her songs are filled with parables and proverbs — What informs her creative use of the language?

“My first language is Yoruba and I think with it. It is easier to process my thoughts with Yoruba, then compliment with English when writing. I am very intrigued by the Yoruba culture; the depth of Yoruba culture provides for all spheres of life, the adage, proverbs are all there to guide us. The philosophy of Yoruba decodes most, if not all, the coded secrets of the universe and puts navigating through the journey of life in the hands of the sojourner,” she says in an earlier interview with the media.

Influenced by Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, India Arie, Ebenezer Obey, Aduke’s music is essentially message driven and backed by social concern.

Since her breakout in 2012 during the occupy Nigeria protest, when she lent her voice to the struggles of the movement and Nigeria as a whole.

Aduke and Foza, her manager at MAPAS 2022

Over the years, she has shuttled between London and Lagos, doing gigs and engaging in other projects such as the tandem art residency project between Brazil, Nigeria, Germany and Pakistan with the Goethe institute researching on a project called ‘how free are the arts’.

She visited Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador as part of her research for the project, she was a visiting professor at the Art school in Parque Lage, and she was also a presenting artiste at the Museu do Amanha, Rio de Janeiro.

Aduke, in fact, represented United Kingdom and Nigeria at the music market. She took the spotlight on July 5, at the Centro Insular de Deportes, performing four songs off her debut album, Peace and Light, with a multicultural band.

“The audience was not only enthralled by the energetic display of African culture, but also deeply moved by songs performed by her,” says the technical theatre exponent, and businessman, Alhaji Teju Kareem.

Kareem, the Chief Executive of ZMirage says: “Aduke is set to embark on a 20-country tour across Africa and Europe in the last quarter of 2022 to 2023.”

After her MAPAS performance, Consuelo Arbelaez, the manager of the Colombian band, Acido Pantera, commended the British-Nigerian singer for what is considered great performance. Arbelaez says, “she is meant for the big stages. She is a representation of Africa-bold.”

Ana Copete Alvarez, Directora Del Festival de Musica del Pacifico Petronio Alvarez, adds, “the last song, Peace and Light, made me cry.”

BORN Àdùké Ayobamidele Aladekomo to a dentist father and lawyer mother in Osogbo, Osun State, the multi-disciplinary performing artiste, who uses music, dance, poetry and acting as means of expression, has dance-theatre background, having worked with Crown Troupe of Africa, led by Segun Adefila, for six years.

After her stint with Crown Troupe, she started a band called SSV (sticks, strings and voices) in 2009 with two other people. The band has grown to have eight members in total including, Aduke. The eight-person band is called Soundwagon.

In the years following that, she has carved a niche for herself as a conscious artiste and global art ambassador, performing at several notable events alongside artistes as, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Ade Bantu, Nneka, Siji Awoyinka, Ghana’s Ebo Taylor, Ekow Alabi and more.

THE educator and an all-round creative started her soul journey into arts over a decade ago with young people, when she engaged in teaching the ‘art of performing’ for musicians. As an arts’ educator, Aduke strongly believes in shaping young minds and advocates the use of art for social and political reforms. She makes conscious music that talk about relevant issues.

In 2010, she was one of the 10 instructors assigned to select secondary schools in Lagos in preparation for The Macmillan Literary youth day, where she tutored Queen’s College, Yaba and led them to victory at the final competition.

Aduke was also a facilitator for the song’s category in the TFL (Teenage Festival Of Life) organised by Action health incorporated (AHI) in Lagos state 2014- 2018.

Her first single, Made in Lagos, was released in 2011. Shortly, a compilation of her singles was released in 2015.

After releasing singles such as, Made in Lagos, Far away, Leke Leke (a prayer for Nigeria), Iso Kekere, Ade Ori and Ori Taiye, Aduke has shown maturity in her delivery and craft. In May 2015, she equally performed at Afro DreamFest in New York.

In 2019, the multi-disciplinary performing artiste was named 2019 shining star in Lang Fang, China where she performed at The Shenmo Education Centre. She was also made a honourary member and international consultant of the Shenmo Women’s league.

After a seeming endless hiatus and playing music underground for years, Aduke, in February 2020, showed that she was ready for the entertainment industry, as much as she believed it was ready for her. She released her debut album titled, Peace and Light.

According to Aduke, “the album is a heartfelt expression of truths unearthed in her journey to self-discovery. Her goal is that, while she isn’t a gospel artist, she wants to spread the good news. She says she has spent the last 10 years sharpening her skills and getting ready for the world stage.

With Peace and Light, the artiste says she has come to a point where she feels clarity in her artistic journey. “Peace and Light is just a starting point for a rich musical career ahead; an album that whets your appetite and makes you want to discover even more of this talent of Nigerian and African soul,” she says.

PEACE and Light is a 13-track album with production credit from Amos Kantiok and Ayobamidele Aladekomo. The album is an expression of truth realised in the journey to self-discovery. It talks about love, clarity, contentment, hard work, world peace and submission to higher power.

Every song in the album is laced with deep messages and that coupled with her performance brought them to life. The messages, aura and overall experience remain intact.

“It is a body of work that offers comfort, hope, and tranquility. It is a breath of fresh air in such a heavy environment, where songs without deep meaning are released very often,” says Kareem.

An exclusive pre-release listening party held February 20, 2020 shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and was well attended by friends, patrons in the arts and colleagues in the music industry. She treated the audience to performances and conversations about the album.

Aduke’s performance went beyond giving listeners exclusive privileges;,she created an artistic experience that resonated with every single person present. Every song was laced with deep messages and that coupled with her performance brought them to life.

The people who have listened to the album and experienced the wholesomeness of Aduke in performance have these to say.

“With each song, the hope for a better future is renewed,” says Heitor de Jesus Kaczmarkiewicz, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

For Theo Lawson, “Peace and Light by Aduke is akin to a thesis project that has taken 10 years to complete. Aduke demonstrates her theatrical background and every piece a narrative on life’s lessons. She has tacitly brought drama into lyrics and presentation, not only in the prelude and epilogue tracks, but also throughout the body of the work. Aduke is a storyteller and a poet, perhaps even a Griot as she tells of our social ills and calls on divine intervention through peace and light.”

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