Beautiful Nubia and the Roots Renaissance Band are Nigeria’s foremost contemporary folk and roots music group.
Formed and fronted by songwriter and poet Segun Akinlolu (aka Beautiful Nubia), the group’s songs and albums have achieved cult status among their loyal and growing fans spread across the world. Beautiful Nubia’s songs are built on rich folkloric traditions and native wisdom but his message is universal in thrust and theme: to value life, respect nature and learn to live in peace with others. The music speaks for the voiceless and champions the dream of a balanced society where individuals are truly free and equal. It preaches love and tolerance but also urges people to stand and defend their rights when trampled upon anywhere in the world.
Born in Ibadan in 1968, Segun started writing songs at a very young age. He drew his early influence from the traditional culture which was prevalent in the form of oral poetry, theatre, music and folklore. In 1994, with enough resources to produce a demo, his timing unfortunately coincided with the final departure of major record labels from Nigeria for economic reasons. In response, he established EniObanke, a music production and marketing company under which his first album was released in 1997. 100% independent, he has never looked back. All subsequent recordings have been released on this label and the company recently commenced the first ever folk and roots music festival in Nigeria, the EniObanke Music Festival (EMUfest).
In 1998, the artist invited several young musicians in Lagos to form a backing band to which he gave the name ‘The Roots Renaissance Band’. Throughout the years, Beautiful Nubia has remained the songwriter, arranger and bandleader contributing acoustic/rhythm guitar, lead vocals and percussion. The band, still mostly made up the original members, includes:
• Ayodele Idowu – Congas/Percussion
• Segun Olabiyi – Drumset
• Ettete Blessing Williams Enobong – Bass guitar
• Benjamin Adetoye (aka Ben Audu Johnson) – Saxophone/Trumpet
• Segun Osunmo – Saxophone
• Muyiwa Kunnuji – Trumpet
• Ayansola Lawal – Gangan (Talking Drum)
• Olaoluwa Soluade – Keyboards
• Tunde Aroyewun – Electric Guitar
Reward came in 2002 with the release of the ground-breaking third album Jangbalajugbu. It is estimated that more than 50 million Nigerians wake up each day to “Owuro L’Ojo (How D’You Do?)”, one of the hit tracks in the album. To date, Jangbalajugbu has sold in excess of a million copies (not including the large numbers sold in the open market by pirates). Since then, the band has released five other albums, all of which, except the most recent, were recorded with vintage analog equipment at the historic Afrodisia (Decca) Studios in Lagos. Awilele (2004) is a no-holds-barred celebration of the artist's political views; Fere (2006) earned BN the sobriquet "Nigeria's King of Melody" and Kilòkilò (2007) and Irinajo (2009) both confirm what can be described as the Beautiful Nubia style and his stubborn refusal to be pigeon-holed. Sun No Dey Sleep (2011) continues in that tradition. The albums, deeply political, have cemented his reputation in Nigeria and beyond as an advocate for social justice. It is the combination of enjoyable entertainment and provocative thoughtfulness that has come to define BN’s style.
The music has garnered excellent reviews in leading African/world music publications. It has been nominated for music awards and topped international/world charts on community, grassroots and campus radio stations in Canada, the US, across Europe and Africa.