The Lijadu Sisters: The Afrobeat Goes On
Cousins of Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti, The Lijadu Sisters have rhythm in their veins. Twins Taiwo and Kehinde emerged as the primary female voices of Nigeria in the ‘70s, writing and performing their own music and bringing women into the foreground of a largely male-dominated scene. Their 1976 LP Danger is being rereleased this week by Knitting Factory Records, the first of a four-album reissue that will unearth the out-of-print tracks and dust them off for a new generation of music lovers.
The Lijadu Sisters fuse the skeleton of Kuti’s Afrobeat with the soul of R&B and reggae and temper their scathing social commentary with soothing harmonies. Danger confronts issues like political corruption, poverty and violence, but transcends their gravity with optimism and imagined exit strategies; its soulful sound and revolutionary spirit still resonate 35 years later.
To coincide with the reissues, Taiwo and Kehinde are compiling a band and preparing for their first round of performances in decades. Although they have been based in New York since the late ‘80s, their heritage remains their biggest source of inspiration. “We have retained our culture even though we’ve lived in New York for 23 years,” explained Taiwo. “Our music reflects our African background and that is what sets us apart.”
Kristina Ensminger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure.