Legends in Nigeria’s Traditional Music Genre


Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage with diverse ethnic groups, each having its traditional music genre. While contemporary music genres like Afrobeat and Afrobeats have gained international recognition, traditional Nigerian music remains a vital part of the country’s cultural identity. Here are some notable figures considered legends in Nigeria’s traditional music genres:

  1. King Sunny Ade (Juju Music):

    • Genre: Juju Music
    • Contribution: King Sunny Ade is widely regarded as one of the pioneers and masters of Juju music, a popular traditional Yoruba music genre. With his distinct guitar style and stage presence, he has been a major influence on Nigerian music since the 1960s.
  2. Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey (Juju Music):

    • Genre: Juju Music
    • Contribution: Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey is another iconic figure in Juju music. His career spans several decades, and he is known for his socially conscious lyrics, melodious compositions, and unique contribution to the evolution of Juju music.
  3. Haruna Ishola (Apala Music):

    • Genre: Apala Music
    • Contribution: Haruna Ishola was a legendary figure in Apala music, a traditional Yoruba genre known for its distinct vocal style and the use of talking drums. His influence on Apala music is immense, and he is considered one of its founding fathers.
  4. Ayinla Omowura (Sakara Music):

    • Genre: Sakara Music
    • Contribution: Ayinla Omowura was a popular Sakara musician known for his powerful vocals and socially relevant lyrics. His impact on Sakara music, a genre characterized by the use of local instruments like the sakara drum, is widely recognized.
  5. Mamman Shata (Hausa Traditional Music):

    • Genre: Hausa Traditional Music
    • Contribution: Mamman Shata was a legendary figure in Hausa traditional music. He played a significant role in popularizing traditional Hausa music and was known for his mastery of various traditional instruments.
  6. Dan Maraya Jos (Hausa Traditional Music):

    • Genre: Hausa Traditional Music
    • Contribution: Dan Maraya Jos was a blind Hausa griot and musician known for his storytelling prowess and mastery of traditional instruments. He made significant contributions to preserving and promoting Hausa cultural heritage through his music.
  7. Alo Matti (Benin Traditional Music):

    • Genre: Benin Traditional Music
    • Contribution: Alo Matti was a prominent figure in Benin traditional music, particularly in the Edo State region. His music often reflected the rich cultural heritage of the Benin people.

These musicians have left indelible marks on Nigeria’s traditional music landscape, and their contributions continue to be celebrated. 

Their work not only entertained but also served as a means of preserving and promoting Nigeria’s diverse cultural heritage through music. 

While some of these legends have passed away, their influence lives on in the traditional music forms they helped shape and popularize.