SOLDIER OF PEACE
KUKU hails from a lineage of the “Balogun” (General of the traditional Yoruba Army). The renowned KUKU family of Ijebu Ode in Ogun State, Nigeria has held this esteem title for centuries. KUKU himself served a number of years in United States Army; hence, the title “Soldier” is quite befitting. On the contrary, this soldier partakes in no violence, his mission is peace, and he spreads it with a unique sonic vibration.
On “Soldier of Peace”, KUKU uncompromisingly bridges the gap between his African Yoruba roots and the western world with an effortless blend of mindful Yoruba, English and Pidgin English lyricism, percussive guitar progression, infectious Udu drum rhythms, topped with the South African Township guitar inflections of co-producer Mongezi Ntaka (Lucky Dube, Vusi Mahlasela).
KUKU was born to immigrant parents in Miami Florida as Abdulzatar, Adebola, Abisoye, … Kuku. At the tender age of two he returned to Lagos Nigeria where he was nourished on high doses of traditional Yoruba classics such as Apala, Fuji, Juju, and Waka music, along with his parent’s extensive imported vinyl collections of American soul music, Reggae, Country Western and other world sounds. Though music was far from a future profession, KUKU had an affinity for the arts. He excelled in school with exceptional prowess in the Fine Arts. By the time he was in high school, he had a flourishing graphic business he ran from his bedroom where he hand designed and printed personalized greeting cards. In 1993, he returned to United States to further his education. While attending college in Maryland, he dabbled in part time jobs then he later joined the United States Army in order to finance his rising tuition costs. After graduation KUKU worked as a graphic designer for different government agencies until one day in May of 2002 he recalls paying an impromptu visit to a guitar store in Virginia. He bought a ninety-nine dollar acoustic guitar that day, and Soldier of Peace began his musical journey. “It’s Alright to Sing so Blue” a song that appears on his debut 2006 release, “Unexpected Pleasures,” was one of the first compositions. With each chord he taught himself, he wrote a new song.
In 2004, he was playing at The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. He also began to travel and perform across the United States as a soloist while copies of his EP “Love Session” quickly circulated across the US and abroad. A year following his first Kennedy Center performance, he was invited back for a second performance. His heartfelt lyrics and honest voice brought him to the attention of documentary movie producer, Casey Callister who commissioned him to write a song for his movie, Ballou, a documentary film about the Ballou Senior High School Marching Band from South East Washington, DC. KUKU’s “Ballou Ballou Ballou” led the sound track of the movie which featured Rev. Jesse Jackson, Gen. (ret) Colin Powell, Congressman John Lewis, Marion Barry, Denyce Graves, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Chuck Brown. KUKU’s voice was heard at several of the movies notable film festival screenings and even at the United States White House.
In a two hour session in July 2007, KUKU recorded “The Absence of Cool”, a solo guitar and vocal album. The album’s concept asked listeners to stop enslaving themselves to the concept of “cool,” – with cool being the absence of emotion – and instead join him on a musical journey to the raw emotions deep in their souls. He launched the release of “The Absence of Cool” at his third Kennedy Center performance that same year. As KUKU’s legend grew, he earned the name “The African Music Medicine Man” perhaps, because of the perceived healing power of his voice. KUKU quietly honors this “title” with as much humility as responsibility that comes with such an acclamation. Part of this responsibility is what continues to move him to share his music with people he says might normally not have access to his world sound in places like correctional facilities, homeless shelters and often on a street corner.
A meeting in December 2008 brought about KUKU first collaboration album with Banjoist Joe “Sticky Mulligan” Smith. The two, under the name “The Savory Papas,” released a collection of nine songs titled “Love in Time of Hope ad Recession”. The album was released and distributed by Believe Digital, France in May 2009.
2012 saw the release of KUKU’s latest album Soldier of Peace (BÁLÓGUN ÌRÒRÙN). The album has garnered critical acclaim with the French Press and a rapidly growing legion of supporters throughout the world. In early 2013, KUKU’s recorded a reprise of the legendary Liverpool Football Club anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as heard on the 2013 African Cup sponsored ORANGE commercial.