The legendary Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey made his name as a pioneer of modern jùjú music through his intense rivalry with King Sunny Ade. The prolonged competition between the two fueled a golden age in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, though both masters had to confront a waning interest in jùjú in the west and the rise of Yo-Pop at home in the ‘80s. The Chief Commander did so by pivoting away from commercial to praise and spiritual music, retiring into the Nigerian gospel music ministry.
Now, hoping to bring his message to a broader audience, the Commander has left the ministry and returned to the international stage. Complete with a full electric band, talking drum ensemble, and the King Sunny Ade dancers, The Chief Commander has returned to the U.S. after many, many years and is still in top form. A few Afropop correspondents caught the band at SOBs last week and were blown away by their powerhouse performance (in fact, check out Afropop founder Sean Barlow hanging out with the Commander after the concert in the picture below!). Though his age certainly showed as he climbed the stage for his performance, Obey perked up the instant he began singing, almost instantaneously becoming animated and full of life. The band tore it down, the crowd ate it up, and the everyone from the stage to the bar was dancing with great abandon.
It’s a short tour for the ensemble, though they have several remaining dates on their itinerary. Catch the legendary Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey at The Atrium in Atlanta, Georgia, 8/16/13, and check in with Obey’s facebook page for more information on a concert in Newark, New Jersey, 8/18/13.