Juju stars Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Dele Abiodun; Afrobeat originator Fela Anikulapo Kuti and ozzidizm originator Sonny Okosuns; highlife rejuvenators Victor Uwaifo, Prince Nico and the Oriental Brothers; fuji stars Ayinla Kollington and Ayinde Barrister; apala veteran Haruna Ishola; waka child prodigy Salawa Abeni; and roots-modernists the Lijadu Sisters. With the exception of Abeni and the Lijadu Sisters, the biggest names on the 1970s Nigerian music scene were all men.
In Nigeria in the 1970s, only a tiny handful of female artists broke through the backing singer/dancer ceiling to become stars in their own right, particularly if they wrote all their own material – as did Abeni, with lyrics closely based on or taken straight out of Islamic scripture and folk wisdom, and the Lijadu Sisters, whose repertoire ranged from love songs and dance anthems through philosophy and political/social commentary.
“The music business was hard for women in Nigeria,” says Taiwo Lijadu. “Back then, they didn’t think women had brains.”