The present Doodle, delineated by Lagos-based guest artist Ohab TBJ, honors Nigerian musician Oliver de Coque on his 74th birthday. Delegated the “Highlife King of Africa,” he is broadly revered as one of the continent’s most prolific recording artists.
Born on this day in 1947 in the small town of Ezinifite in southeastern Nigeria, Oliver Sunday Akanite previously took up the guitar at a youthful age, and as a teenager, contemplated the traditional Igbo music of the region and Congolese soukous.
In 1970, at an exhibition by the popular Sunny Agaga and his Lucky Star Band, Akanite persuaded Sunny to allow him to remain in as their guitarist; he was recruited on the spot, providing a massive boost to his young career. Likewise a talented player of the Nigerian table game okwe, Akanite got known as “Oliver de ka Okwe,” which he later adjusted into his stage name, Oliver de Coque.
De Coque broadly injected the modern West African highlife genre with a Congolese-influenced guitar style and the energetic dance elements of Igbo music he grew up with, crafting a unique musical, which he called Ogene.
Starting with his first solo release in 1976, de Coque’s music just grew in popularity at home and abroad, as he put out many album after album his mind masterful guitar work and new interpretation of African pop–over 70 throughout his lifetime.
In 1994, in acknowledgment of his prodigious music achievement, de Coque was awarded a honorary doctorate in music by the University of New Orleans.
Thank you, Oliver de Coque, for strumming your way into the hearts of listeners around the world!