Bola Abimbola
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Bola Abimbola


Band World Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Spin the Globe - KAOS 89.3 FM - WA"

Rich in groove, Bola Abimbola's Ara Kenge is a fresh blast of danceable rhythms. The Nigerian singer was born and raised in Lagos, and blends the music of his roots (fuji, juju,Highlife, apala, and Afrobeat) with a diversity of instruments (mandolin, vibes, timbales, ukulele) and other musical influences. Rich harmonies soothe while the beat makes you wanna get up and dance. Abimbola appears to be based in Denver, though much of the production took place in Seattle. With too little new music from Nigeria hitting the international market, the positive grooves of Ara Kenge are a welcome addition. - Scott Stevens - DJ

"All Music Guide"

Nigerian singer Bola Abimbola has a long solo career under his belt, but he's best known to American audiences for his occasional work with King Sunny Ade. Abimbola's first album for the nascent American label Fast Horse sounds like an attempt to Westernize his Afrobeat sound for more mainstream tastes, adding producer Sean Dugaw's drum kit and a few more synthesizers to a mix that needed little embellishment in the first place. Luckily, the emendations are relatively minor, so they're only distracting to real Nigerian music purists. For everyone else, Ara Kenge is an appealing mix of Abimbola's clear, soulful vocals and relaxed, unhurried African pop beats, highlighted by the hypnotic elongated rhythm workout "Orin." - Stewart Mason


This disc is really a pleasant surprise for me. I'm a big fan and student of African music and I have quite an extensive collection of recordings by African artists. I find that the CDs I enjoy the most are the ones that are both unique and stylistically diverse. This disc, Bola Abimbola's first release in the United States, certainly falls into that category. I've purchased CDs in the past that have been so stylistically similar from track to track that without understanding the language the whole disc just blends together in my mind. Bola music however is full of surprises and there are no two tracks on this disc that could be confused for one another.

"Ara Kenge" jumps around stylistically enough to keep the listener interested and yet Bola's voice singing in both Yoruba and English is so distinctive that it ties the whole thing together. Rich vocal harmonies and Nigerian percussion are featured throughout. Nigerian talking drums have such a unique sound.

While Bola is Nigerian, the first track on this disc, "Ise Aje", doesn't sound particularly Nigerian to me. It actually reminds me a lot of something off Angelique Kidjo's "Fifa" album. When tracks two hits, it leaves you with no doubt about Bola's Nigerian heritage. "ABD" is clearly Afro-beat but with Bola's own unique spin on it. Track three, "Olowo" seems to blend Highlife and Juju. It's followed by "Ayaba" which is probably the most accessible track on the disc. Even non-world music fans are likely to be caught up by its bouncy feel and strong chorus hook. Track five, "Ajo" is simply amazing. It's composed of layers of ukulele and voice. "Friends" features a guest appearance by King Sunny Ade and quite a few other artists that are better known in Nigeria than in the US. Regardless of guest appearances this is just a strong track that keeps the energy going throughout. The title track, "Ara Kenge" has a very rich traditional sound reminiscent of Haruna Ishola. "Adura" while obviously not Bola's best track is still very interesting. I really can't put my finger on how to describe it stylistically. It feels dark and mellow and yet it moves along at a fairly quick tempo. "Ojo Ngori Ojo" is has a relaxing almost lullaby feel to it. The melody is certainly highlife influenced but rhythmically it almost feels Brazilian. "Orin" seems more like a medley of Fuji/Juju compositions than on single song. In fact the ending seems almost Reggae. "More Than What You See" wraps up "Ara Kenge" with just percussion and vocals. The percussion fades out leaving the listener with just an acapella version of the rich African vocal harmonies that are so prevalent through all Bola's music.

Bola Abimbola's music is neither overly produced slick Afro-pop nor is so traditional as to be only of interest to ethnomusicologists. I'd recommend this CD to any with even a little interest in African music. It's one of the best discs I've purchased in a long time. - Nando Malheiros

"Nigerian Afro Soul"

Like most popular African music these days, Nigerian singer Bola Abimbola's US debut is as much world fusion as it is West African. Abimbola has worked with King Sunny Ade, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Sikiru Adepoju, among others. If you had to characterize Ara Kenge with one term, it might be Afro Soul. Ayaba, for instance, is almost RB, while other songs are more clearly Nigerian. Orin seems to be an interesting hybridization of fuji and juju. On first impression ABD seems like Afrobeat in the classic Fela vein, but keep listening and you start to notice just how much the rhythm section feels like Sunny Ades recent work. That's not surprising when you consider that most of the percussion was done by Nojeem Lasisi, another veteran of Sunny Ades African Beats. In fact talking drum, perhaps the quintessential Nigerian instrument, is featured throughout many of the tracks. Instruments like mandolin and ukulele, more common in the early days of juju and highlife than today, and a nice touch to Ise Aje and Ajo respectively. Overall, the production is rich and varied, and Abimbolas passionate leads ride nicely over a warm bed of backing vocals. - MSN Music - Alex B.


Title: Ara Kenge (2006) - Fast Horse Recordings (USA)
• Digital distribution via iTunes, Rhapsody, Yahoo Music, Sony Connect and more; available world-wide through the websites
• Crossover World/African album that contains a synthesis of traditional and contemporary West African styles and rhythms

Title: Crisis (2001) – Kennis Music (West Africa)
• Includes a hit single collaboration with Sunny Nneji and Wasiu Alabi Pasuma on “Crisis” track
• Co-produced the album

Title: Buyanga (1998) – Ola King Records (West Africa)
• Self-produced effort including the award-winning single “Friends” which features the legendary King Sunny Ade, Wasiu Alabi Pasuma and Daddy Showkey
• Two Nigerian “Fame” awards received (comparable to an American Grammy): “Best Video” and “Artist of the Year”

Title: Silifa Bamijo (1987) – EMI Records (world-wide)
• Included a hit single duet with Linda Ronstadt, a Yoruba/English adaptation of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough”



A native of Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa, Bola’s 22-year career in music began at the age of 19 when he released his first hit single in the UK and Nigeria. His first solo effort, “Silifa Bamijo,” launched him into the music industry in the roles of vocalist, producer, lyricist, and composer. Bola’s award-winning music has been featured in film, television and radio in addition to the wide release of his projects in Africa.

Bola moved to the United States after touring the world with King Sunny Ade and the African Beats in 1998. Since that time, he has toured and recorded with the Bay Area’s “Afrika Heartbeat” (Master Talking Drummer Sikiru Adepoju, Giovanni Hidalgo) and released his debut US, UK and European solo album, “Ara Kenge.” Currently residing in Denver, Bola performs regularly with his band “Wazobia” and continues to sing, produce, compose and arrange music.