The life and legacy of Sonny Okosun, The Popular Nigerian Musician?

Do you want to know about Sonny Okosun the Popular Nigerian Musician? Sonny Okosun made a huge impact on Nigerian society by using his music to promote Pan-Africanism, freedom, social justice, and political issues. Join our Content Creation Academy  If you want to learn about StorytellingContent Creation, and how to build your Online Business.

Who is Sonny Okosun?

On January 1st, 1947, Sonny Okosun was born in Esan, Benin City, Nigeria. From the late 1970s through the middle of the 1980s, he was a prominent, colossal Nigerian contemporary musician. His zodiac sign is Capricorn. He focused on funk, Afro-beat, reggae, and pop music. He had widespread success as a singer, guitarist, and composer.

He was well-known for being the Ozzidi group band leader and developed an interest in music when he started meeting prominent writers and artists. Rock musicians were his main formative influences (Elvis Presley and the Beatles). He was also a renowned singer who performed some of Africa’s most recent protest songs.

Sonny Okosun named his band Ozzidi after a renowned Ijaw River god, but according to him the brand signifies something clear and simple: “there is a message”.

His surname, “Okosun” is a word that can be broken down into two parts: Oko, meaning Son or child, and Osun which refers to the goddess of water, love, and sensuality in Esan, Edo, and Yoruba religion. Therefore, Okosun (Oko – sun) will mean the son or child of Osun.

Sonny Okosun’s Family

Sydney, Ebony, and Adesuwa, among many others, are some of Sonny Okosun’s children from his several marriages. One of his legitimate daughters received a degree from Pace University in the greater New York City area. Children who legally stayed at his adopted his last name.

Sonny Okosun was born into a Christian family, and his parents were members of the Moses Orimolade-founded Cherubim and Seraphim Church, a Pentecostal congregation.

Sonny Okosun’s Music Career

Sonny Okosun spent his early years living with his grandmother in Edo State. Later, due to the Coup d’état Biafra struggle, he relocated to live with his parents in Enugu State and then to Lagos State. Sonny attended various schools, but St. Brigid’s School in Asata, Enugu state, was the first school Sonny attended.

Sonny left St. Brigid’s training center before even completing his coursework. He also developed an interest in acting and performing and spent a few months taking theatrical classes in Surulere, Lagos. After the courses, he was given the chance to play supporting roles in a few dramatic shows.

Chris Abaga taught Sonny how to sing and play the drums when he was nine years old, which was his first exposure to music. His perseverance in the industry led him to be featured in some radio and TV skits with Eastern Nigeria Television Station, which earned him fame with Mariam Okagbue. He collaborated with Professor John Okwerri, a member of the Mbari Club.

He received a guitar from Mariam Okagbue, who also urged him to keep practicing music. In 1955, he was a member of a theatrical troupe that took first prize for its dramatic rendition of Okwerri’s masquerades and J.P. Clark’s Song of the Goat in a competition.

As a group, they represented Nigeria in the 1965 Commonwealth Art Festivals in London as the winning ensemble, and he took advantage of the opportunity to tour throughout England by going to concerts. Later, Okosun became a cast member of Ukonu’s Club, an Eastern Nigeria Television variety show, where he had the chance to demonstrate his guitar-playing abilities.

He held down a regular job as a second guitarist in Victor Uwaifo’s Maestros while also working as a stagehand for a Lagos TV station. He developed his talents by experimenting with a combination of African and rock rhythms.

Sonny Okosun was the lead vocalist for the Ozzidi band, formerly known as Paperback Limited. The group was named after an Ijaw River god, Sonny and some of his members collaborated with Fela and his group (Koola Lobitos) to play gigs in Yaba, Lagos.

He published a number of CDs after starting a band, including Ozzidi for sale and Ozzidi live music. His debut single, “Help,” created history in Nigeria by selling up to 100,000 copies.

Okosun put out a number of reggae-infused Afro-pop songs in the late 1970s, and in 1977 his song “Fire in Soweto” went gold and became a worldwide hit. He also appeared on the anti-apartheid record “Sun City,” and the 1986 hit film “Something Wild” utilized his song “Highlife” as its soundtrack.

Additionally, Sonny published his LP album, “Power to the People.” In 1984, he also issued his debut American record via Shanachie Records. He issued a further American record in 1985 under the name “Which Way Nigeria” on the EMI label in Nigeria.

Late in the 1980s, his career in popular music began to wane. However, he recovered by launching a solo gospel music career as Evangelist Sonny Okosuns. His family name had previously been “Okosun,” but he later modified it on his own by adding the letter “S,” making it “Okosuns.” His 1993 gospel CD Songs of Praise and subsequent gospel song titled “Revival” propelled his fame in the gospel genre.

In 1998, Sony founded the House of Prayer ministry, a Christian congregation in Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos state. Without a doubt, Sonny’s development and success show that, with the right motivation and goals, you can become anything you set your mind to.

Sonny Okosun’s net worth

Being one of the most popular music icons in Nigeria, Sonny has an estimated net worth of about $400,000.

Sonny Okosun’s Discography

Among other musical genres, Sonny Okosun performed gospel, highlife, reggae, and other genres. Let’s explore his music collection.

  • Ozzidi(1976)
  • Ozzidi For Sale(1976)
  • Living Music(NCC, 1977)
  • Papa’s Land(NCC, 1977)
  • Fire in Soweto(OTI, 1978)
  • Holy Wars(NEMI, 1978)
  • 3rd World(NEMI, 1981)
  • Mother and Child(OTI, 1982)
  • Live in Veradora, EMI Nigeria (1982)
  • Which Way Nigeria?(Jive Afrika, 1983)
  • Liberation(Shanachie, 1984)
  • Revolution II(HMV, 1985)
  • Africa Now or Never(HMV, 1986)
  • Ozzidi/Ozone(1989)
  • Togetherness, celluloid (1990)
  • African Soldier(Profile, 1991)
  • Song of Praise, Ivory Music (1994)
  • The Ultimte Collection, AVC Music (1996)
  • Celebrate! & Worship in Caribbean Rhythms, God’s Glory Records (2000)
  • Be Glorified, God’s Glory Records (2001)
  • The Glory of God, Ivory Music (2002).

No homage to Okosun would be complete without a mention of the thrilling “Fire in Soweto.” The song largely discussed the future, extreme poverty, and political turmoil. His revolutionary songs promote black South Africans’ liberation and justice as well as their equality and dignity.

In the New York Times, Douglas Martin referred to Okosuns style as a “catchy, rock-inflected mix of funk, reggae, Afrobeat, and more. “Who could ever forget the impact of Sonny Okosuns powerful, life-touching, and emotional song? Nobody.

Some noble qualities Sonny Okosuns possessed

Sonny Okosuns is regarded as a charming and gifted vocalist who possessed the skill to speak and sing in various languages, giving his songs a distinctive vibe. He is recognized as a man of vigor, bravery, intelligence, creativity, and eloquence.

He inspires salvation and divine redemption through his ability to preach unity, independence, majority rule, justice, and moral standards among nations and the general public. He held a unique perspective and lived by the motto, “No Jesus, No Life!”

Sonny Okosuns was a kind, caring, and devout man who believed and trusted in God. In contrast to others who knew how to successfully live the lives they desired to live, he had no interest in living a wealthy lifestyle. He is still regarded as a liberation warrior and hero.

Sonny Okosuns’ Awards and Achievement

Sonny Okosun is one of the greatest contemporary artists in Nigeria. He won over 30 awards during his lifetime.

  • In 1974, he became the first Nigerian to receive an EMI Award.
  • He was the sole musician from Nigeria to support the late M.K.O Abiola throughout his statewide political campaign.
  • A colon cancer operation was raised in his favor by his sister in 2009, Lagos & Abuja, after his demise in 2008.
  • He released a total of about 40 albums.
  • In his lifetime, he had performed for great world leaders like Muammar Ghadaffi of Libya, Joseph Momoh of Sierra Leone, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Maj.- Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ahmed Ahidjo of Cameroon, Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo and many others who also attended his live performance.
  • He collaborated with many legendary musicians like Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Eddy Grant, Sunny Ade, Victor Uwaifo, Harry Bellafonte, and others.

Sonny Okosun’s death

Sonny was 61 years old before he passed on to be with the Lord. He died of colon cancer on May 24th, 2008 at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC. He was diagnosed with colon cancer on one of his trips to America, where he went for a medical check-up after he started experiencing difficulties in his feeding habit.

Sonny Okosun’s death came as a shock to everyone, but God knows best.

On this day, we honor a renowned musical figure who made a significant contribution to the Nigerian music scene in the 1970s and 1980s and subsequently changed the course of history all across the globe. Sonny is an artist who paved the way for sociopolitical justice in Africa.

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