SIJI

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SIJI

The second born of twelve children to Nigerian émigrés in London, Siji spent much of his early childhood in Lagos and London before coming to the US to further pursue his musical ambitions. His own cultural heritage combined with the political and social movements of the age, exposed young Siji to the insurgent, politicized music of the Afrobeat legends Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Tony Allen as well as the soulful grooves of Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and Otis Redding. His parents, in particular, his father, loved music, but like most children of hardworking immigrants, Siji was urged by them to pursue a career in the professional fields of medicine or law. But the lure of the music was too strong. In the nineties, when London was bursting at the seams with new music and groups like Loose Ends, Soul II Soul, and D-Influence dominated the scene, Siji’s attention was captured and he began to follow his passion for making and recording his own music.

After completing a Masters degree in Engineering Product Design, the self-taught piano, percussion and acoustic bass player released an EP, "Facets" followed by the single "My Lover's Embrace" on his own label IVY Records in 1996. These releases garnered much respect and admiration on the influential London underground music scene, gave Siji credibility as an artist, and eventually led to a lucrative worldwide publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music. His youth and inexperience made him open himself up to all possibilities in his music, but it also lead him to sign a deal that he would find limiting to his creativity.

With the publishing deal under his belt, Siji relocated to New York and performed in renowned venues—SOB’s, Bam Café and Joe's Pub. He has worked with a number of producers, but it is his collaboration with Osunlade, who produced music for Musiq Soulchild, Eric Benet, and classic R&B vocalist Patti Labelle, that fostered in Siji a love of production. He has contributed songwriting and production talent to projects for Salif Keita, Cesaria Evora, Vinia Mojica and Wunmi. Along with those skills, Siji brought with him the immediate feedback and positive energy of the live performance into the studio, creating songs that would eventually make up his debut album God-Given (BBE Records, 2004).

The album gives the listener the inspired reminiscences of the soul greats as well as traditional, Yoruba instruments, rhythms, and intricate drum patterns. Siji’s distinct vocals are an organic complement to the sound. His self-titled newest work, ‘Adesiji’, was mostly recorded in Baltimore, a city Siji suggests is “trapped in time.” The songs he wrote and recorded there too are soulful, but capture the mood of a seasoned artist. Siji’s recent collaboration with New York based producer/DJ Alix Alvarez, yielded the crowd pleasing, dance floor hit, ‘Irinajo.’ Sung in its entirety in his native tongue Yoruba, ‘Irinajo’ (“Journey”), is about the eventful journey of life. The album also features collaborations with DJ/Producer’s King Britt and Rich Medina.

Siji’s father opened up his debut album, (‘Oriki’). For Siji, it is “like a stamp of approval.” Although Siji does not consider himself an activist, he does sing about love, freedom, and self-empowerment. In this way, his music does inspire us to act—to observe, to love, to sing, and most of all to dance.

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