Monday, December 19, 2016

Living the Highlife: Celestine Ukwu and "Igede"

Today's random tune is in honor of Mike's mother Shirley Hess, who turns 85 years old today. The song is called Igede, and is performed by Celestine Ukwu and his band. A Nigerian highlife musician, he began his career in the 1960s with the Paradise Rhythm Orchestra, then launched his own band called the Music Royals. The Biafran War caused the band to go on hiatus for three years, but in 1970 they resurrected themselves as the Philosophers National, and became known for several songs in the early and mid-1970s. His music is generally described as softer and more laid back than most highlife music, and he tended to feature piano, vibraphone and pedal steel guitar. The songs that his band played were generally around the topics of social evils and the need for peace. Celestine Ukwu tragically died in an automobile accident in 1977. Igede can be found on the 2003 compilation album Rough Guide to Highlife. The song is based in Igbo folklore, and was a smash hit in 1971.