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King Sunny Adé In Chicago
Nigerian music legend showcased his expertise that has made him an internationally known figure 
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   K ING Sunny Adé finally made it to Chicago––a year later––but no one seemed to mind when he exploded onto the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage in Millennium Park with a musical beat that demonstrated why he is hailed as one of the most influential musicians of all time in Nigeria.
   After his first song, the internationally recognized musician, songwriter and instrumentalist somewhat shyly acknowledged the technical snafu (not his fault) that prevented his appearance at last year’s Millennium Park Summer Music Series. The U.S. State Department blamed an extended “global computer hardware failure” for holding up visa processing around the world, forcing Adé to cancel his entire U.S. tour last year.
   That was then . . . this is now. After opening-act UGOCHI and The Afro Soul Ensemble (A.S.E.) set the tone, Adé, who first played Chicago 33 years ago as part of the last ChicagoFest, dramatically hit the stage with the nonstop energy not usually associated with an entertainer who will turn 70 on September 22. As the undisputed king of juju music––an infectious sound that blends Yoruba traditions with pop influences––Adé is known for kinetic shows that are described as “nonstop parties,” presented with the assistance of his large and engaging band, His African Beats. During his high-spirited concerts, Adé is always the focal point, but the stage is filled with perpetual motion, creating a mesmerizing display of color and rhythm.
––Walter Leavy
​   But the foundation of his presentation is the music, a dance-inspiring combination of electric guitars, synthesizers and multilayered percussion. During the 90-minute performance, Adé went deep into his repertoire with songs from his own record label that has produced more than 100 of his albums since 1974, including the groundbreaking Juju Music
   The enthusiastic and diverse crowd, including many Nigerians from throughout Chicagoland, had come to celebrate “the King,” and they were familiar with songs such as “M.K.O. Abiola,” “Sweet Banana,” “Mo Ti Mo,” “Dance Dance Dance,” “Ko Salapata,” “Merciful God,” “Surprise,” “Suku suku bam bam” and “E dide e mujo.” With each of the two-time Grammy Award-nominee’s tunes, there was sustained dancing in the aisles and loud, impressive sing-alongs.
   When it was all over, with the music still ringing in their ears, Ade’s fans walked away wishing that somehow––State Department computer snafu and all––they could have experienced the so-called “Minister of Enjoyment” a year earlier.
Nigeria's King Sunny Adé, the legendary king of juju music, was in top form during his concert at Millennium Park. After a wardrobe change (below), he continued to entertain the huge crowd, many of whom had waited a year for the show that had been postponed.