Legend Series: Nigerian Music HIGHLIFE: Orlando Owoh

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Dr Orlando Owoh (February 14, 1932 – November 4, 2008) was a highlife musician and band leader.

Orlando Owoh was born Stephen Oladipupo Olaore Owomoyela in Osogbo, Nigeria on February 14, 1932 to Owomoyela and Mrs. Christiana Morenike Owomoyela.

His Father hailed from Ifon town Ose Local Government Ondo state while his mother was from Owo.

He later became known to his fans as Chief Dr. Orlando Owoh. As a young man Owoh initially entered into the carpentry trade until 1958, when he was hired by Nigeria’s Kola Ogunmola Theatre Group to play drums and sing.

Owoh went on to form Dr. Orlando Owoh and his Omimah Band in 1960, and over a musical career of forty years became one of the leading proponents of highlife music. With bands such as the Omimah Band and later the Young Kenneries and the African Kenneries International, Owoh remained popular in Nigeria, even as tastes moved to the newer jùjú and fuji styles. He had over 45 albums to his credit.

In his over forty years musical career, Chief Dr. Oladipupo Owoh, popularly called Orlando Owoh has without doubt proved to be one of the greatest musicians that have come out of Nigeria. The life and times of this uncelebrated musical icon clearly reveals that to this genius known as Orlando, the whole world appears to be his musical stage and he gains inspiration from everything happening in his society.

Like other legends he carefully crafted his own genre of African Highlife music to what is today referred to as the Palm Wine Highlife which is anchored on a very strong lead and base guitar rhythm. To many of his fans especially from the Ondo/Akure and Ekiti axis, Orlando appears to be a legend.

Orlando did not play music for money, but played music because saw music as his calling in life and loved what he did, perhaps this is why he hasn’t very much to show for a musical career of over forty years.

Notwithstanding, he never missed the opportunity to tantalise his fans with his ever green tunes and popular tracks such as Ajanaku Daraba, Lai Ku Egiri, Oluwa la’la Baromi, What can you tell me? /Yello Sisi Siddon Na Corner Pushy Hand Na Jaw, Aunty dey shame, Ganja 1 &2, Bori Ba Joba Lola, Kangaroo, Have you been to the State Before?, Logba Logba, Jealousy Jealousy, Ifon Omimah Ni Mo Tiwa, Iyawo Olele amongst others.

Albums released by Dr. Orlando Owoh include (not in chronological order): 1) Aiye nyi lo (medley) 2) Ajanaku Daraba 3) Apartheid, 4) Asotito Aye 5) Awa de 6) Ayo mi sese bere 7) Cain ati Abel 8) Easter special, 9) E ku iroju 10) E Get As E Be 11) Emi wa wa lowo re 12) Experience 13) Ganja I 14) Ganja II 15) Ibaje eniyan 16) Igba aye Noah 17) Ire loni 18) I say No 19) Iwa l’Oluwa nwo 20) Iyawo Olele 21) Jeka sise 22) Kangaroo 23) Kennery de ijo ya 24) Kose mani 25) Late Dele Giwa 26) Logba Logba 27) Ma wo mi roro 28) Message 29) Mo juba agba 30) Money 4 hand back 4 ground 31) Oriki Ojo 32) Orin titun 33) Thanksgiving 34) Which is which

His singles include (not in chronological order): 1) Brother ye se 2) Day by day 3) Diana 4) Ebe mo be ori mi 5) Zo Muje 6) Egi nado 7) Elese (sinner) 8) Fiba fun Eledumare 9) Ma pa mi l’oruko da 10) Ma sika Ma doro 11) Modupe (medley) 12) Oju ni face 13) Okan mi yin Oba orun 14) Olorun Oba da wa lohun (medley) 15) Oro loko laya 16) Rex Lawson 17) Wa ba mi jo 18) Yabomisa sawale 19) You be my lover.

This list of albums and singles is however not exhaustive.

Orlando Owoh died on November 4, 2008 and was laid to rest at his Agege residence in Lagos, Nigeria.

A careful study of his music reveals that Orlando was a Christian and he used some of his tunes to evangelize and tell biblical stories such as Cain Ati Abel, Oti D’Opin, King Nebuchadnezzar, King Solomon, Jonah, Mo Duro Le Christi Apata, Noah, Lord Speak- Your Servant Heareth, Angeli Ti Ko’rukomi Soke, Singing Hallelujah and Ewa Gba Jesu amongst others.

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