King Sunny Ade Biography, Family and Music Career Achievements

Best described as the king of Juju music and a major inspiration to younger Nigerian artists such as Lagbaja, King Sunny Ade (KSA) has come a long way in the Nigerian music industry and beyond. The iconic singer holds many impressive records, titles, and awards, some of which are yet to be surpassed by any Nigerian singer or entertainer. For instance, King Sunny Ade is the first Nigerian to have received a Grammy nomination.

He has also been recognized severally both within and outside his home country for his contribution to the world of music, including being dubbed as “One of the World’s Great Band Leader” by The New York Times; he was inducted into the Afropop and Hard Rock Cafe Hall of Fame. Dubbed ‘The Chairman,’ the Afropop legend, to date, is considered as one of Africa’s most influential artists and West Africa’s number one juju king.

As someone who boasts an impressive stint in the music industry, King Sunny Ade’s personal life and career have always been a subject of interest to his fans across the world; hence, the reason for this article. Read on to know more about him.

Profile Summary of King Sunny Ade

  • Full Name: Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye
  • Age: 75 years old
  • Date of Birth: 22 September 1946
  • Place of Birth: Osogbo, Osun State
  • State of Origin: Ondo State
  • Profession: Musician
  • Popular Works: Synchro System, Ja Funmi, Merciful God, Baba Mo Tunde
  • Active Since: 1960s

King Sunny Ade is Currently 75 Years Old

The veteran music star was welcomed into the world as Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye on the 22nd day of September 1946, in Osogbo, Osun State but originally hails from Ondo State. He was born to a mother who was a trader and a father who was a church organist. His parents both hail from royal families, with his maternal grandfather being a King in Akure in Ondo State.

At the age of 8, King Sunny Ade lost his father, Samuel Adeniyi Adegeye, to death. As such, he was left with his mother, Princess Maria Adegeye, who raised him. His mother, who died in 2010 at the age of 112, was a major force in molding the man KSA grew up to become. Although the veteran singer has many siblings, with a number of them being strict while growing and wanted him to act like royalty, other details about them remain unknown.

Growing up, King Sunny Ade had already developed his interest in music at age 5 and would dance to music even in public. This love was nurtured till he finally found a footing to turn his interest into a profession. He attended a grammar school in Ondo but later dropped out after a few years to join the Lagos-based highlife band Federal Rhythm Dandies in 1963 at the age of 17.

Is Sunny Ade A Real King? – How He Got His Name

His birth name Adeniyi Adegeye already suggests royalty as ‘Ade’ in Yoruba means ‘crown.’ Although he was not made a traditional king, Sunny grew in royalty with both of his parents coming from royalty homes which made him a prince.

Sunny Ade got his stage name by shortening his real name when the Green Sports band was formed. He adopted the name because he didn’t want his family, who thought he was in Lagos in school, to find out he had started his own band. Nevertheless, KSA fast rose to become the king of Juju music and remains in the position for decades.

He Began His Professional Music Career in 1963

King Sunny Adé’s musical career began in Lagos in 1963 when he joined singer Moses Olaiya’s highlife band called Federal Rhythm Dandies. Seven years later, the singer launched his own band called The Green Spots, which he later renamed African Beats and then to Golden Mercury. Famed for his classic guitar touches and dancing steps, Adé has embarked on several tours within Africa, Europe, and America.

He released his debut album titled “Juju Music” in 1982 under Island Records, while his second album titled: “Syncro System” was released a year later. The latter earned him his first Grammy Award nomination, while “Odu,” which he released in 1988, earned him his second Grammy Award nomination. As it is common with a few Yoruba artists, the Afropop star’s music is characterized by instruments like the guitar, vibraphone, clavinet, the talking drum, tenor guitar,  and praises of dignitaries, which most times, records the oral tradition of the Yoruba tribe.

He collaborated with notable stars like Stevie Wonder, Bola Abimbola, Wasiu Alabi Pasuma, and Manu Dibango. Besides his illustrious musical career, King Sunny Ade has a nightclub, a studio for budding musicians, a performing arts center, and a foundation. He is also a visiting lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife. A recipient of the national honor of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic, King Sunny Ade was rewarded for his immense contribution to the world industry at the International Reggae and World Music Awards in 2008.

He was inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame at the Brooklyn African Festival in the U.S in July 2009. His music has featured in a handful of Hollywood movies. In 1983, his song played in the film “Breathless” and the 1986 comedy series “One More Saturday Night.” He was appointed a ‘change’ ambassador in March 2017 by Nigerian minister Lai Mohammed.

King Sunny Ade Songs and His Position in Modern Day Music Scene

The legendary music act is one of the few musicians across the globe to have lasted over 5 decades and still maintain their relevance. The singer at present has over 100 songs to his name and about 20 albums. All of his songs are hits as each sold nothing below 150,000 copies, with a number of them winning his prestigious awards. KSA in the past made songs with artists that include Stevie Wonder, Wasiu Alabi, Ebenezer Obey, and Onyeka Onwenu, among others

King Sunny Ade transitions himself from old-school music to a modern one. However, his lyrical content, strong vocalization, and traditional great music have not lost their touch. He has shared stages with modern music acts that include Wizkid, Asa, D’banj, and TuFace. At his current age of 75, KSA, who has composed about 3,000 songs, does not see himself retiring from music but intends to sing till he dies.

Top Songs Of KSA

  • Baba Mo Tunde (2010)
  • Ota Mi Ma Yo Mi (2002)
  • Suku Suku Bam Bam (2000)
  • Congratulations a (Happy Birthday) (2000)
  • Appreciation (2000)
  • Eri Okan (1998)
  • Orisun Iye (1995)
  • My Mother (1995)
  • Merciful God (1987)
  • Arya (1986)
  • Synchro System (1983)
  • Ase (1983)
  • Mo Ti Mo (1983)
  • Iyi To Odidere Ni (1983)
  • Ja Funmi (1982)
  • Aye Nreti Eleya (1978)

Some Notable Albums Of King Sunny Ade

  • Bábá Mo Túnde (2010)
  • Dr. Sehindemi (2003)
  • Omo Wunmi (2003)
  • Odu  (1998)
  • Ogun (1997)
  • E Dide (Get Up) (1995)
  • Live Live Ju Ju  (1988)
  • Gratitude (1985
  • Vintage King Sunny Ade (1984)
  • Aura  (1984)
  • Synchro System (1983)
  • Juju Music  (1982)
  • Live at Montreux (1982)

Awards Won by The Juju Musician

  • The Headies Hall of Fame Award (2020)
  • AFRIMA Awards for (2016)
  • An inductee into the Hard Rock Cafe Hall of Fame (2016)
  • City People Movie Lifetime Achievement Award (2014)
  • An inductee into the Afro-pop Hall of Fame, Brooklyn African Festival (2009)
  • He was appointed a visiting professor of music at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (2009).
  • International Reggae and World Music Awards for outstanding contribution to world music. He was named King of World Music (2008)
  • He was the first Nigerian to earn a Grammy Award nomination for his Synchro System  for Best World Music/Ethnic Sound (1984)
  • Grammy Award nominations for Best World Music/Ethnic Sound for his Odu album (1999).

The Singer Has 7 Wives and Over 15 Children

The chairman’s marital relationship has always been a subject of interest in Nigeria. Considering that he is successful and handsome, many believe he has all it takes to win ladies’ hearts. Currently, the Juju maestro is believed to have seven wives. Nonetheless, there are also claims that he may have more than these women in his life.

The time Sunny Ade got married to each of the women is not detailed online. However, the singer left many tongues wagging on social media in January 2018 when he shared a photo of his seven wives, causing many online users to believe he is still in the age-long culture of polygamy. Also attached to the picture was a short message that read: “My Women Crush Wednesday,” a photo of himself looking very excited.

King Sunny Ade
His wives (Image Source)

Talking about his children, the singer has over 15 fifteen children from his relationships with his wives. As of 1989, when he released his controversial song Wait for Me, King Sunny was already a father of 12. The identity of his children remains unknown to the public. But one of his daughters, Ruth, became married in a private ceremony in 2011.

Also, at that time, the music legend made it known that he cherishes education, and since he could not get a University education, he works hard towards making sure that his children get it. In this regard, he said none of his daughters will ever get married without obtaining a university degree. King Sunny Ade is also a grandfather. Some of the grandchildren are adults, but other details about the private life of the music legend and details about them remain concealed.

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