King Sunny Ade, Nigeria's beloved entertainer and maestro of juju big band dance music, was inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame at Celebrate Brooklyn's African Festival on Saturday, July 18th. Afropop Producer Sean Barlow did the honors of inducting Chairman" (what his friends and colleagues call him.)
Barlow explained to the 10,000 enthusiastic fans at Celebrate Brooklyn that the criteria for selection were contemporary African artists who not only excelled artistically but who also played a big role in connecting American audiences to Africa and African culture. He said previous inductees included Youssou N'Dour, Oumou Sangare, Angelique Kidjo, and Thomas Mapfumo. He went on to say that before Youssou and Angelique and others made their US careers, there was King Sunny Ade, opening the way.
When King Sunny Ade held the award itself, he smiled broadly and held it high over his head saying, Thank you for the honor of giving me this award. I dedicate it to Michael Jackson," with a tear in his eye. He then proceeded to center stage singing an acapella song in Yoruba before breaking into a fast all band riff with Chairman on rhythm guitar and his two twin dancers shaking it and beaming.
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