Nigerian Music Legend Oliver de-Coque
Today, Google releases a Doodle in honor of Nigerian music icon and high-life maestro Oliver de Coque, who was one of Africa's most influential recording artists of all time.
The Doodle, made by Ohab TBJ, a Lagos-based graphic artist and illustrator, pays tribute to the singer, who died in June 2008 at the age of 61 after suffering a heart attack. De Coque's love of the guitar, his aggressive performance style, his distinctive music brand, and his love of tradition and culture served as artistic inspiration.
“Oliver de Coque was a popular musician from the Igbo part of Nigeria. As a kid back in the 90s, I recall my late dad playing his songs. I will never forget watching my uncles and aunts dancing to his music; their happiness was contagious”, says Ohab TBJ.
De Coque (born Oliver Sunday Akanite on this day in 1947 in the small town of Ezinifite in southern Nigeria) began playing the guitar at a young age. He learned traditional Igbo music in the area as a youth, as well as Congolese soukous. Akanite persuaded Sunny Agaga and his Lucky Star Band to let him stand in as their guitarist during a show in 1970, and was hired on the spot.
This gave his fledgling musical career a huge boost. Oliver de ka Okwe, a guitar genius who was also a talented player of the Nigerian board game okwe, became known as Oliver de ka Okwe, which he later adapted to become his stage name, Oliver de Coque.
De Coque created his own unique music style, Ogene, by mixing modern West African highlife with Congolese-influenced guitar style and the energetic dance elements of Igbo music with which he grew up.
De Couque's music rose in popularity at home and abroad after his first solo release in 1976, and he released album after album featuring his masterful guitar work and fresh take on Africa pop. His iconic songs, such as Biri ka Mbiri, People's Club of Nigeria, and Elete Aghara (Tolerance), continue to captivate millions of music fans in Nigeria and around the world.
De Coque received an honorary doctorate of music from the University of New Orleans in 1994 for his outstanding musical achievements.
“I believe that Oliver de Coque paved the way for so many African artists of this generation, and that there’s still much more we have to learn about this highlife artist. History has not done enough to honour his memory, so I hope this Doodle will help highlight his incredible story,” Ohab TBJ concludes.