Apala (or akpala) is a music genre originally developed by the Yoruba people of Nigeria, during the country’s history as a colony of the British Empire. It is a percussion-based style that originated in the late 1930s which is being enjoyed in a social circle back then and still retain its class till today.
Below are the top five Apala music maestros:
Yusuf Olatunji, also known as Baba Legba or Baba L’Egbaa (1905 -1978) was a Nigerian Sakara drum player, who popularized the Sakara music style. He was to have been born in 1905 or 1906 in a village called Gbegbinlawo in Ogun State in south-western Nigeria, although there are still doubts about the location of his birth. His mid-life conversion to Islam boosted his career in Yoruba music. He was born a Christian and he hailed from Iseyin in Oyo State. He was formerly known as Joseph Olatunji. He started his career in 1937 with his first record and he joined Abibu Oluwa band in 1927.
He died on December 15, 1978 age 74. His hit songs include B’olowo bate, O Wole Ologo Keri, Amode Maja, Mejejo Nio Bunmi Oba Oluwa, Asa Mba Eiyele Sere, Oye Kani Fura and Datemi Lare. He is survived by 4 children and 3 wives. He was a friend of the late Lamidi Durowoju, Late Jimoh Ishola, who was later hanged in the late 80s, Late Raji Orire, Late Badejo Okunsanya and other great men. They were the rich men he mostly sang for. He also sang a lot of praise songs for some numerous prominent social clubs in Southwestern part of Nigeria. A very rich woman that goes by the name Alhaja Kuburatu Abike Adebisi known as cash Madam in Abeokuta sent him abroad for surgery, he died 7 years later.
One of the most well-known performers of apala music in Nigerian history, with Ayinla Omowura.
Haruna Ishola Adebayo, popularly known as “Baba Ngani Agba” was born 1919 in Igbaire Oko-Sopin, Ijebu-Igbo (today Ogun State), Nigeria.
In 1947 Haruna Ishola developed an interest in music and collected some boys from his area and formed his own group, Haruna Ishola And His Apala Group.
In 1948 he made his first record, entitled “Orimolusi Adeboye” (English: the Oba of Ijebu-Igbo) but the record did not sell as well as Haruna had expected. In 1955 Haruna Ishola made another record for the late Orimolusi Adeboye for Decca (West Africa) Limited and this was the record that brought him fame and made him a household name. A major turning point was the release of his first LP entitled Oroki Social Club which sold over 5 million copies between 1971 and 1983.
Some of his other hit records are Ina Ran, Late Owonifari, Paluda, On My Way To London, Ogun Loni Le Aro and Apala Disco. In 1981, in recognition of his contributions to the cultural, social and economic awareness of the country, the then president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, presented him with a National Award of Member Of The Order Of Niger (M.O.N.)
In 1969, Ishola started STAR Records Ltd., in partnership with jùjú music legend I.K. Dairo. This was the first African record label owned by its artists. In 1971, he released his largest selling album to date, “Oroki Social Club” on Decca Records, which sold over five million copies. The titular track from the album was an ode to the prestigious and popular nightclub in the city of Osogbo, where Ishola and his group would perform concerts to sold-out audiences, sometimes even lasting between four and ten hours. He became one of the first Nigerian musicians to tour abroad, performing in Benin, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, West Germany, and Italy.
Haruna Ishola died on November 9th, 1983, but his large catalogue of recordings both on Decca and STAR ensure that he will not soon be forgotten. His son, Musiliu Haruna Ishola is also a musician, still performing and carrying on his father’s legacy who released a million-selling album titled Soyoyo in 2000.
Ligali Alade Adebayo Mukaiba was a popular musician between 1945 -1980. He was a native of Ajagannabe area of Epe, Lagos State. He was born on April 5th, 1924. His father’s name was Ismaila Sanni Mukaiba and his mother’s name was Sariu Mukaiba both from Epe. Because his father was a fisherman, he learnt fishing from his father before he moved to learn tailoring in the late 30s’.
Due to some downwards in tailoring work, he crossed over to music and he started Apala music as a career in 1945 and no account pointed that he learn music from anybody. Among his contemporaries in Apala music were Alhaji Alabi Elewuro and Salau Onisakara all from Epe. Ligali Mukaiba and Alabi Elewuro competition was said to divide Epe indigenes into two in which Ligali Mukaiba belongs to Ijebu Epe supporters and Alabi Elewuro belongs to Eko Epe supporters.
Ligali association with Kwara elites’ like Chief Abu Olododo makes his music famous among the Kwaras. His music was also famous among Ijebu Ode people that until his death, one of his records was promoted by Sanuolu Records at Ijebu Ode. He married four wives; Memunot from Epe, Rabiat from Epe, Halimot from Ijebu Iwopin, Ogun waterside and Rasheedat from Ode also from Ijebu, Ogun waterside. He has twenty-two children and four of them are presently musicians; Saheed Ligali Mukaiba( Apala musician), Shamsudeen Mukaiba ( Apala & Fuji musician), Hakeem Ligali Mukaiba (Apala musician) and Isa Mukaiba ( Apala&Fuji musician).
His record is over a hundred and some of them are now on CD&VCD. He died on June 22nd, 1984 at 60 years. Some of his hit songs include Bose W’oluwa, Ohun Tose Bale Ile, Ileya Special, Omi Ya Ile, Eniyan Laso Mi, Gasikiya NI
Kasumu Adio was born in Odo Yangade, Oke Agbo, Ijebu Igbo in the Western State of Nigeria in the year 1928. he started his career as a musician in 1941 and began recording song in 1948. Kasumu Adio has made a number of jit records but two records, Oloye Adekunle Fajuyi NWA 5268 and The late Owo-Ni-Fari NWA 5375 are really responsible for his fame as an outstanding Apala musician. When listening to record number NWA 5268 on the late Lieutenant Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, one is moved by the sad words in the song.
Kasumu Adio is well known for singing his songs in proverbs as is ably demonstrated in his first extended play record number WAX 132
The late Apala musician, Ayinla Waheed Yusuf, popularly known as Ayinla Omowura, is considered to be one of the most original Yoruba musicians of post-colonial Nigeria. Born in 1933, Omowura’s music was popular in South-West Nigeria in the 70s, and this gave him cult followership. Sadly, at the peak of his career, he was killed by one of his band members during a brawl in Abeokuta, Ogun State in 1980.
Popularly called EGUNMOGAJI”the late Ayinla Omowura was born in Abeokuta Ogun state Nigeria in the late ’30s. The exact date is unknown, as no record was kept. His musical career took root when he started with
a brand of music called “Olalomi” in the early ’50s. This brand of music was so popular that he became the darling of the young people both in Nigeria and the west coast of Africa. This brand faded with time.
His musical career took a new dimension when he joined EMI NIGERIA in 1970 and recorded a single titled”AJAT OF’ OJU D’EJO” in June of that year. The tremendous success attained by the single was quickly followed by three other extended play records. One was recorded in September 1970-HNEP 506 titled “EMA FOWO S’OYA SI WAMO” and the other two, HNEP 533 TITLED “DANFO O SI ERE”/”EMA TORI OWO PA’NIA and HNEP 534 titled “ANJONU ELERE” were recorded on the 20th of July 1971.
His first album HNLX 5068 which was recorded in the same year was a chartbuster, with a release of over 50,000 copies.
His success was so overwhelming that he became an idol to the masses – particularly among the public transport drivers, and the traders to mention a few.
He left for MECCA and MEDINA to perform the Muslim Holy Pilgrimage in 1975 and became Alhaji Ayinla Omowura.
In the 10 years that he was on EMI NIGERIA label, all his 20 albums sold a minimum of 50,000 copies on the first day of release. Acutely popular, Omowura’s day of release was always a carnival at garages, Beer parlours and even at parties.
He recorded two albums at the same time in 1980, unfortunately only one NEMI (LP) 0490 titled”AWA KISE OLODE WON” was released before his tragic death that year. The second one, NEMI (LP) 0515 titled”25+40″ was released posthumously in 1981.
He was married to many wives and children. K’aiye Mase Sio Soro Mi, Pansaga Ranti Ojo Ola, Ati Dariyo Kari Aiye, Late Murtala Muhammed and Ise Ile Lonbawon De’ta