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Kuku

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A native of Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria, KUKU grew up in Lagos, Nigeria listening to the assorted sounds of American soul, folk, and jazz music, as well as the sweet African rhythms of artists like King Sunny Ade, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Mariam Makeba and Aruna Ishola. KUKU moved to the US in 1993. After years of odd jobs, college, serving in the US Army and working as a graphic designer, in 2002 he found Bar Nun, a weekly open mic in Washington, DC’s U Street. It was there that he picked up a guitar for the first time, taught himself to play and began building a following singing in the U Street music/poetry open mic scene. As his reputation grew, he rapidly worked his way into the club, schools and café scene. Busking and touring while maintaining a full-time job, he released his 2005 home recording EP, “Love Sessions,” which has sold more than 4,000 copies. KUKU recalls, “I remember calling off sick from work several times while I was on a bus or in an airport heading to the next gig.” His captivating performances, featuring an effortless blend of his Yoruba tongue and a uniquely soulful acoustic rhythm coupled with his tireless off-stage work ethic, led to an invitation to perform at the Kennedy Center in 2004. This would not be the last time.

2006 saw KUKU release his first full-length recording, “Unexpected Pleasures,” featuring the enchanting “Ife” and “Perfect Reality,” which continue to be favorites among fans. Produced by friend Alexei Tsybine Jendayi, “Unexpected Pleasures,” as KUKU would describe in an Atlanta radio interview, is an album that marries the sound of the likes of Bill Withers with King Sunny Ade with KUKU being the officiating priest. He labeled his minimalist acoustic guitar driven sound “The Afro-soul Acoustic Experience.”

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