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Biography Of Fela Sowande


Olufela (Fela) Obafunmilayo Sowande was a Nigerian musician and composer. Considered the father of modern Nigerian art music, Sowande is perhaps the most internationally known African composer of works in the European “classical” idiom.

NAME: Olufela (Fela) Obafunmilayo Sowande

DATE OF BIRTH: 29 May 1905

DIED: 13 March 1987

PLACE OF BIRTH: Lagos state

OCCUPATION: Musician and composer

CARRIER AND PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES: Sowande was born in Abeokuta, near Lagos, the son of Emmanuel Sowande, a priest and pioneer of Nigerian church music. As a child he sang in the Choir of the Cathedral Church of Christ. He studied at the C.M.S. Grammar School and at King’s College, Lagos. The influence of his father and Dr T. K. Ekundayo Phillips (composer, organist and choirmaster) was an important factor in his early years. At that time, Sowande was a chorister and was introduced to new Yoruba works being introduced into the churches. During that period, he studied organ under Phillips (including works by Bach and European classical masters), and earned the Fellowship Diploma (FRCO) from the Royal College of Organists. At that time, he was also a bandleader, playing jazz and popular highlife music. All of these had considerable influence on his work.

PULICATIONS: (1964). Ifa: Guide, Counsellor, and Friend of Our Forefathers. Ibadan.
(1966). The Mind of a Nation: The Yoruba Child. Ibadan: Ibadan University.
(1968). Come Now Nigeria, Part 1: Nationalism and essays on relevant subjects. Ibadan: Sketch Pub. Co.; sole distributors: Nigerian Book Suppliers. (All the material presented in this book first appeared in the form of articles in the pages of the Daily Sketch, Ibadan.)
(1975). The Africanization of Black Studies. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Institute for African American Affairs. African American Affairs Monograph Series, v. 2, no. 1.
(1971). “Black Folklore”, Black Lines: A Journal of Black Studies (special issue: Black Folklore), v. 2, no. 1 (Fall 1971), pp. 5–21.


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