Orlando Julius Aremu Olusanya Ekemode, known professionally as Orlando Julius or Orlando Julius Ekemode was a Nigerian saxophonist, singer, bandleader, and songwriter closely associated with afrobeat music. The multi-instrumentalist – who worked with everyone from Louis Armstrong, Lijadu Sisters, Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock, Grover Washington Jr., Hugh Masekela etc – passed in his sleep on April 15, 2022, at the age of 78. His wife Latoya Ekemode was, and has always been by his side.
Julius began by playing drums or flute with juju and konkoma bands and learned saxophone to play highlife music, eventually playing with musicians Jazz Romero, Rex Williams, and Eddie Okonta. He began experimenting with combining traditional music with horns, guitar, and American genres, a fusion which came to be known as afrobeat. He had his first hits with 1965’s “Jagua Nana” and the 1966 album Super Afro Soul.
In the 1970s, Julius moved to the United States, forming a band with Hugh Masekela and later working as a session musician before returning to Nigeria in 1984. A series of reissues in the 2000s and 2010s led to international touring and a collaboration with The Heliocentrics which reached the Billboard World Albums chart.
Read more about his rich life, legacy and his contributions to adding definitions to the music genres that we know today as Afrobeat, Highlife and Afro-Soul.
Source: Oyiza Adaba. Photos: Dede Mabiaku/Africa-Related
Location: Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State Nigeria
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