Arts & Entertainments

In Benin, thunderous ovation for rising African voice, Aduke

It was yet another honour for Nigerian singer, songwriter, bandleader and actor, Ayobamidele ‘Aduke’ Aladekomo, popularly known as Aduke. She received a special prize for ‘Rising Africa Star in the Diaspora’ at the 14th annual SICA Awards in Cotonou, Benin Republic, last month. The award marks yet another plaudit to a resourceful artiste whose career is swinging towards being crowned one of the very best out of the continent of Africa.

Highly impressed, the SICA organisers in the search for emerging and outstanding diaspora artist of Africa origin, endorsed and presented the special prize for ‘Rising African Star in the Diaspora’ to Aduke.

The award was received on her behalf at the ceremony by the convener of the African Integration Festival, Dr. Bonny Botoku, at the SICA House in Cotonou, Republic of Benin. No doubt, if you encounter the magic of Aduke on stage in a live performance, you will be enchanted by her total artistic package. The poise, the confidence and grace with which she leads any band she shares a stage with is enthralling.

A seamless blend of soulful, cultural and urbane artistry and delivery, Aduke’s show is always a feast that leaves her audience well fed and; yearning for more. For years, Aduke graced the stage of Freedom Park Lagos as a resident artiste, with her sevenpiece band making her a favourite and regular act who visitors and ‘inmates’ (as patrons of the park are fondly called), trooped in to watch monthly. A consummate performer as described by the filmmaker Femi Odugbemi, Aduke never failed to wow her yearning fans and new audiences.

Even though well-loved at home in Nigeria, Aduke began to step into the international music scene, starting with a slot at the Afrodream Fest in New York in 2015, and in no time, she registered herself as a dynamic and outstanding act worthy of representing her country Nigeria and indeed her continent, Africa.

In 2019, having been selected by Goethe Institut, Lagos, she was shortlisted for the Chilly Gonzales’ Gonzavertory Music Residency; and spent time in Brazil presenting artiste at the Museum do Amahna.

In the same year, Aduke’s Afro-soul music continued to wow international audiences: she was in Lang Fang and Beijing, China where she performed before thousands of people at the Shenmo conference and won dual recognition as the Shenmo Shining Star of 2019 and international consultant and ambassador for the Shenmo women’s league. In 2020, the Nigerian- British perof forming artiste released her debut album and had a European tour in the works as well as residency programs in Germany and Switzerland.

However, like everyone else, these plans were abruptly put on hold due to the pandemic. But Aduke, the stage dynamite would not let anything stop her from doing what she loves best as she found a way to continue to thrill her national and international audiences via the virtual space. She staged a monthly live zoom performances of her Afro soul music night organised in the comfort perof her living room for three months consecutively to the admiration of a cross section of music lovers that not only keep turning up, but could simply not have enough of her.

She also featured at the annual Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange Festival, which held virtually across five continents and spanned three days. Here, Aduke earned the applause of the globallyreputed culture scholar and critic Prof Folabo Ajayi-Soyinka, who described her as an ‘authentic soul with a unique voice.’ In same tone, the humanist Prof Lily Cheng of the San Diego State University, USA described Aduke as a voice of reason, and praised her for using her music to spotlight the cause of humanity at such a time the world faces a collective challenge. In September 2020 during the UK lockdown, the African Voice Newspaper celebrated its 19th year anniversary which also held virtually, Aduke’s powerful voice rendition of Man is Man (one of her songs), was a delightful addition to the occasion.

The song that speaks directly to the celebration’s thematic thrust calls for the unity of humanity even as it reaffirms the strength and importance of African culture and values. Several attendees could not hide their excitement for Aduke’s art and demanded for more with positive comments and feedbacks pouring in from such eminent guests as the culture aficionado Princess Deun Solarin, actor, media personality Yemi Shodimu, and the showbiz celebrity, DJ Abass.

It came as no surprise when on the 28th of November 2020, The SICA Festival, a prestigious pan-African event that recognises outstanding talents and contributions of exceptional individuals to arts and culture in Africa, honoured the resourceful performer, Aduke. On stage or in the recording studio, Aduke always delivers with her beautiful compositions and clarity of message to the world through the instrumentality of her Afro soul music rich in melody and clinically delivered with her sensational, yet penetrating voice that leaves her audience always asking for more.




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