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STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: King Sunny Ade and His African Beats


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The subjects of this week's video feature are King Sunny Ade & His African Beats, who will be in St. Louis this coming Tuesday, April 20 to perform at the Old Rock House. Since visa problems forced the band to cancel the first several dates of their tour, their St. Louis show now is the kickoff for the band's jaunt across the United States.

Ade's style of Nigerian juju music first gained wide popularity outside Africa in the 1980s, helping to pave the way for many other “world music" artists to enjoy commercial success outside their home countries. (For more background on Ade, check out this biography and discography.)

The African Beats' music features chiming guitars, multiple layers of percussion, and a vocal call-and-response that contrasts solo voices with choral passages. All of these traits are in evidence in today's three videos, starting at the top with “Me Le Se," which was recorded in June 2009 at the Triple Door in Seattle.

Down below, you'll find a clip of an older piece called “Ja Lo Lo Ja Lo Lo" from a 1998 live performance in California. Finally, we have an undated, promotional-style music video of “Enle Eku" that shows off some tasty lead guitar work. Though the visuals have a low-budget, birth-of-MTV quality, Ade's charisma comes through, and it's got a certain retrograde charm for those of us old enough to remember the early 1980s.

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