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Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by BillGatesFan(m): 3:39pm On May 15, 2007
Osadebe, high-life music maestro, is dead

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, May 15, 2007

DISTINGUISHED highlife musician Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, (OON) is dead at 71.
He passed on last Friday, according to his family in a statement.

It said a coordinated funeral arrangement is being planned in some cities in the USA on a yet to be announced date.The undisputed master of Ibo Guitar Highlife, Chief Stephen Osadebe’s music remains one of the premier sounds of Nigeria.

Born in 1936, he trained with legends such as Stephen Amechi, nearing stardom before the Biafran war wiped out opportunities for Ibo artists in Nigeria. After the war, Osadebe began rebuilding his career and in 1984 reached his zenith with the multimillion selling Osondi Owendi.

Today, Osadebe’s reign in Highlife remains supreme. Blending elements of traditional highlife with funk, jazz, reggae, and even hints of 60’s psychedelia, which is fueled by irrepressible wah-wah guitar, this powerful dance music explodes when matched with Osadebe’s rich baritone voice and powerful lyrics addressing the social and cultural challenges of the era.

Remastered from 70’s and 80’s releases on Polygram Nigeria, Sound Time displays the breadth and depth of Osadebe’s prolific talents.
Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe hailed from Umuekeke in Atani, Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State.

He once said that he started music as a chorister in the Church. I was also a member of the school’s boys’ band. From there, I started developing interest in music. I was then very actively involved in the traditional African music genres: Amakekwu, Kokoma, Agidigbo and other local forms of music.

We entertained people during ceremonies like burial, marriage and other occasions that required music. My parents were involved fully as local musicians too. They played more of the musical instruments and danced well too. But I was into all they were doing and was equally singing.

When one great musician visited Onitsha in 1955, I went to watch the concert and enjoyed the vocalist’s performance. I felt I could do something better than I was doing and even better than what the vocalist did. I started finding a way to join a band until I approached them and requested to be allowed to play one classical number.

They obliged and I played both the instrument and the vocal, which impressed the band members and the audience. But it was in 1956 that I started playing what I am known for today. I started it as a Marakas player under Empire Rhythm Skies led by Akunwata Stephen Amaechi Nnanyelugo.

After some months with the band, I was asked to sing some of my numbers during a performance. After the performance, the Central Dance Band, Lagos, engaged me as a band vocalist. To me, this was a very big promotion, because the vocalist of a band is the life-wire of the band. When I moved in there, I started composing and recording my songs. I started the recording first with Zenonia and later moved to other studios.

All these musical activities brought me to limelight. I started organising and rehearsing musicians from different bands, then they performed and got recorded. Different recording outfits invited me and I recorded my music with them. But I finally pitched my tent with Phillips West African Records, which later changed its name to Phonogram and then to Polygram.

The instinct has been in me. I should say that I inherited music from my parents because my late father was a very good dancer and drummer. When I was growing up, I was very much interested in classical music. The man who mainly inspired me into singing was the late Natkin Cole, an American. He sang in English, Spanish and other languages. I loved his music.

The Amakekwu music was the reigning thing then in the 50s. Even today, they still play it. I used to sing the music alongside Kokoma, which was the Ghanaian kind of Highlife. I was playing the entire instrument, especially the Konga. Later Kusimilaya came. A kind of music that was also called Agidigbo. It was the late Adeolu Akinsanya who came to teach us that in Onitsha and from there, I started developing interest in it.

Generally, I am aware that people talk much about my prophecy. They also speak about how meaningful my music is and how they play it when they have one problem or the other. They say that after listening to it, they always feel relieved. All the records I did in America bear the inscription, Doctor of Hypertension. These are what I hear or see. To be frank, I do not know what I do to the listeners with my music. But I believe that my music is educative.

The name of my band is Osita Osadebe Nigeria Sound Makers International.
I play the kind of music that suits the African man. That is dwelling on my culture to reach the rest of Africa. People call it Highlife, which I call in Igbo Oyolima; it is all about when you are relaxed and in the mood for enjoyment.

They are many. What I will do is to name a few. I have Onyemaechi, which many people do not know. No money, No woman, Akaraka, Enyi Mba Enyi, Late Patrice Lumumba, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Mbadiwe Jikotanu, October the first rainy day, One Pound, No Balance, Ononuju Aku, Onuigubo, Onu Kwuru njo g’ekwu mma, Agbala aka n’azo ana, Osondi Owendi and Makojo.

I was initiated into the club in October 15, 1965 when it was still Okaa Society. Along the line, the late Major General Aguiyi Ironsi banned the Okaa Society for reasons I did not know. So, it was after the war the People’s Club was formed. Most of us were financial members, not honorary members. So, I am a full-fledged member.
Re: Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by Baro(m): 3:50pm On May 15, 2007
May his gentle soul rest in Perfect Peace

We just lost a rare gem
Re: Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by plezant(f): 5:40pm On May 15, 2007
May his soul RIP
Re: Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by Nobody: 8:51pm On May 15, 2007
RIP!. . .One of my favourites!
Re: Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by kosikosi: 3:25am On May 16, 2007
Re: Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by ghettochyk(f): 3:55am On May 16, 2007
oh no!! my dad loved him. i just got my dad his latest cd a few months ago (Kedu America). may his soul rest in peace. cry

is there a link where we can read more?
Re: Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by ikamefa(f): 5:00am On May 16, 2007

may his soul rest in peace!
Re: Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by kackar: 5:15am On May 17, 2007
he was a great man.not b/cos he worked in shell or was the governor of bayelsa but in talent discovery and determination.may his soul rest in peace.
Re: Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by viee(f): 1:30pm On May 17, 2007
sad! cry cry

i really like his brand of music.

Re: Osadebe, High-life Music Maestro, Is Dead by ngmilitant: 2:03pm On May 17, 2007
hey bill,how about u submit this piece to naijahiphop.org with relevant picture-it's the least we could do!!!email to htgunna@yahoo.com
or check www.naijahiphop.org/submitblog.aspx

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