The news of the death of Kehinde Lijadu in London has sent the Nigerian community into a mixture of shock and grief. She was born on 22nd October, 1948.
Details of the cause of death could not be ascertained as at the time of this report.
A family friend, Princess Pamela Toyin Ogunwusi, wrote on Taiwo Lijadu’s Facebook Wall: “The famous LIJADU SISTERS . For over thirty years that you both left Nigeria you’ve been separated from your children… I was meant to visit you on your 72nd birthday last month but everything prevented that trip…
“Mummy K Lijadu you and your twin sister poured out your heart to me crying several times… I was worried and made frantic efforts to help… you fought hard but passed on. Adieu KEHINDE LIJADU…. May you awaken to joyful experiencing as you make your way back home”.
Earlier in January 2019, Tee Mac Iseli, renowned musician, wrote this tribute:
“The twins Taiwo and Kehinde were born in the northern Nigeria town of Jos on October 22, 1948. Second cousins of Fela Kuti, the two girls were drawn to music at a very early age, listening to records, singing, and writing songs together from their early childhood into their teenage years.
Beginning as backing vocalists for studio sessions, the sisters eventually released a single under their own name, 1968’s Iya Mi Jowo. In 1971, still working as session singers, joined the Tee Mac an Afro Collection band at the small but fabulous BATAKOTO on Broad Street Lagos, where the sisters met ”Cream” drummer Ginger Baker (then rated as the number one drumer in the world), and Taiwo and Baker soon started dating.
The twins performed with Baker’s band Salt at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games before the relationship fizzled out. With the assistance of multi-instrumentalist and producer Biddy Wright, the Lijadu Sisters would make four albums for Decca’s Afrodisia imprint: 1976’s Danger, 1977’s Mother Africa, 1978’s Sunshine, and 1979’s Horizon Unlimited.
These vibrant collisions of pop, reggae, and Afro-beat influences defined the sisters’ unique hybrid sound and rocketed them to immense popularity in Nigeria, as well as gaining them the attention of a broader audience internationally. It is in my agenda to bring my dear sisters to Nigeria this year, to meet their old friends and fans and to show Nigeria that age is no factor in music. They will be reading this FB post so help me to send nice messages to them. Thank you very much! Tee Mac”.
In 1969, twin sisters Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu released their first studio album ya Mi Jowo (“Mother, Please) through Decca records.
Known professionally as the Lijadu Sisters, the duo would go on to release a series of unique and influential LPs throughout the next two decades before retiring from the commercial music industry in 1984
The sisters sing in perfect harmony over a fusion of afrobeat, soul, and psychedelic rock instrumentation, exploring a variety of social, political and emotional themes. Tracks like “Cashing In” (from Danger, 1976) feature feminist calls to action, while love songs like “Promise” lament the pain of a broken heart.
The sisters’ music continues to permeate contemporary pop culture through sampling, notably Nas’ unreleased “Life’s Gone Low” which samples the Lijadu Sisters track of a similar name (Life’s Gone Down Low from Danger).
In these archival documentary excerpts, the Lijadu sisters rehearse, record and discuss album material and their experiences as women in the emergent pop music industry.
“In the past, men believed that the wife should stick to the kitchen and bring kids into the world, that’s all” says Kehinde. “Women have been playing important roles in the world of politics, in music, in the hospitals…in every aspect of life you find women….” Taiwo furthers.
The two agree that female representation in the music industry specifically is limited, but that overall female representation in the professional sphere will continue to increase.
Additional footage captures the sisters arguing with producer Odion Iruoje at a recording session in Decca Studios, Lagos.
Says Taiwo of the label: “As far as they are concerned, you can keep owing them and paying them back until the day you die”. Taiwo and Kehinde left Decca in 1984.
The clips below offer an intimate view into the Lijadu sisters’ creative process and artistic identity. Tracks featured include “Touch Me” and an early rendition of “Gbowo-Mi”, both of which have disappeared from circulating discographies. Production credits for this docuseries could not be located.
With additional reports by Sarah Tello and Kzsc
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