It’s World Music Day, June 21 has been set aside as a date for the celebration of the art of music. Music is as dynamic as it gets and is enjoyed by all ages and cultural backgrounds across the several countries of the world.
The history of how the day came to be is traced back to France as far back as 1976 when it was proposed by a French-based American theorist who proposed an all-night music festival to celebrate the summer.
Back here in Nigeria, music is equally loved by Nigerians, young and old, with varying degrees of taste for the different genres of music, and based on the era and times of the music.
To mark the day, Pulse Music highlights 20 songs that could be described as evergreen classics, meaning that the content has substance, and is emotionally binding on the listener, with some having that nostalgic effect. There is something for the old and new generation folks on this list.
Here are our picks in no particular order.
Seyi Sodimu happened to be one of the drivers of the afro-soul music genre in the early 90s before the likes of Asa, Waje and Aramide came and took over since the millennium era.
As far back as 1997, he released his hit single “Love Me Jeje“ which went on to be one of the Nigerian love classics in the 90s, gathering generous airplay while rising up the charts.
Seyi is currently based in Washington DC, USA and is still very much in the music making business. He runs Good Life Entertainment.
Born in 1941 in Nigeria, Uwaifo is a Nigerian writer, sculptor and musician whose ‘Joromy’ hit single is a major classic.
It’s a song that earned Uwaifo his legendary status as he could play guitar using both his hands, feet, and tongue while performing the song — something that was very strange in the 1960’s.
The song earned him the first golden record and a formidable international recognition, and up-to-date it’s considered as a major classic that still sounds fresh in every ear.
A classic Nigerian hit, ‘Seun rere’ was released by the late Christy Essien-Igbokwe. The song (which loosely translates “be good/do good”) was released in 1981 and is featured on the album Ever Liked My Person? under International Records, Skylark Records. It was a constant hit through the 80s well into the 90s.
Christy Essien-Igbokwe before her death at age 50 was a fluent speaker of English, Igbo, Ibibio and Yoruba, and was the first ever female president of PMAN.
Onyeka Onwenu is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, actress, journalist, and politician.
Onwenu began her music career in 1981 while still working with the NTA, releasing the album “For the Love of You”. Originally a secular artist, she now sings mainly gospel music and continues to write and sing about issues such as health (HIV/AIDS), peace and mutual coexistence, respect for women rights and the plight of children.
Prince Nico Mbarga recorded sweet mother in 1976, which sold over 13 million copies upon its release and has been globally considered as the African greatest song of all time.
The demo-tape of “Sweet Mother” was turned down by EMI in 1974, citing the song’s “childish appeal.” “Sweet Mother” was later also rejected by Decca Records and Philips Records, before it was eventually released in December, 1976, by Rogers All Stars, a Nigerian recording company based in Onitsha.
Shina Peters and the ‘International stars’ band are legends of Nigerian music. With over 16 well-acclaimed albums, The “Afro juju Series 1” album is still the most favored album by most of his fans up-to-date.
He is considered as the creator of the ‘Afro juju’ music genre, and most of the songs in the Afro juju series 1 album are regarded as classic hits by anyone who has listened to the album.
In 1994, King Sunny Ade brought 32 Nigerian artists and actors together and they collectively recorded a song against ethnic violence called ‘the way forward’ that became an automatic hit and an up-to-date classic.
The song was sung in several languages — Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba and several of other Nigerian languages, and the message revolved around urging Nigerians to stop fighting against each other and, instead, celebrate their independence together.
This song rewinds time and brings back memories of the 80s and 90s. Released in 1986, it was one of Okosuns most famous records, it earned Sonny Okusun an international recognition and every person that remembers him is reminded of this great single despite the time frame.
Very few Nigerian albums stand the test of time. One of the few is Blackky‘s 1991 debut, “About Tyme” on Premiere Music. While multiple hit albums make a throwback of a particular one a difficult task, his success story is incomplete without mention of his 1st.
The album “About Tyme” produced a number of hits like “Blackky Skank” and the sexually charged “Sugar Stick” but it also produced what would remain the biggest hit of his whole career “Rosie” which featured opening lines that became a toast at many a nightclub. \
Many wouldn’t forget in a hurry the song’s chorus, “Can I have a dance, Rosie? Ah ah! My friends are watching me, Rosie ah ah ah. They will laugh-laugh at me, Rosie,” which caught on in no time and won many awards.
As kids, this song by Mike Okri was drummed into the ears of every kid, as it was believed to foster obedience, respect and good behaviour in the household. Every child who had music enthusiasts as parents will never forget this song.
This was Wizkid before he went the Caribbean route, before the international collaborations came. The Nigerian superstar singer was mesmerizing with this love tune. It is still till date a perfect song for all romantic occasions.
Beast of no nation’ originally released in 1989 was an indictment of the corruption and repression that was ongoing in the post-colonial Africa. The Afrobeat legend expressed his unapologetic views on the situation.
Off his “Seven Degrees North” album, Afro-juju king once again put his best foot behind this song ‘Appreciation’ as he gives it all to the Heavens on very rich instrumentals. Everyone loves and can relate to this and that’s why it’s a classic.
This track evoked emotions not just for Dagrin and producer of the track Sossick who featured on the hook, but for the listeners who could relate much with the message on the song.
This song has just about the same effect as the legend’s ‘African queen’, powerful, emotional and soul penetrating. Words can’t describe it enough.
Off their critically acclaimed “Expressions” album, Stylplus the much loved and admired Nigerian pop group shut down the country with this single.
The perfect lines, heavenly vocals and the perfect hook in ‘Olufunmi’ make this song an irresistible classic.
Thrilling and enchanting, Asa bled her soul and heart in this Cobhams produced piece. There was no going wrong on this one.
Mr. Incredible with ‘Safe’ came out of nowhere and brought novelty rap that would henceforth shake up the Nigerian Hip Hop music scene.
The song amongst other impressive mind-blowing tracks off his critically acclaimed debut album ” Talk About It” changed the game for damn good.
Indigenous talented singer 9ice got everyone going bonkers when he dropped this jam. It was a straight up hit that announced the ‘Alapomeji’ to Nigerians and the world in grand fashion just as the song title suggests.
A befitting wedding theme song, Peter and Paul gave us all couple goals as the saying goes nowadays with this song. No debate whatsoever on this one, the love song caught on too easy with its catchy hook and melodious vibes laced with romantic gestures.
Which of these songs do you remember?
Comments are welcomed***