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Tunji Oyelana and The Benders

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But he also later burst out on his own as an ethnomusicologist, producing folk music which ruled the airwaves in the 70s and 80s with a group famously known as Tunji Oyelana and The Benders. Many of his albums would qualify as classics in their genre, deploying native wisdom, folklore and wit, mixed with sparse syncopation and antiphony, relying heavily on the human voice and its inflections to lift the spirit. Radio stations loved to play his music and listeners derived much pleasure from them. In the 80s, Tunji Oyelana also acted on television (NTA Ibadan particularly), perhaps the most famous of his engagements in this regard is a sitcom titled Sura de Tailor in which he played the lead role. Many would recall the theme song of that programme which soon caught on with viewers: “Sura de tailor, oko Adunni, the friend of Major, expert in Toro, danshiki, and buba, also English coat and trouser o… Sura de Tailor is your frie-n-d.”

As an actor on stage and on the screen, Tunji Oyelana took his art seriously and he enjoyed his choice. In the 80s at the University of Ibadan, he was an artist in residence in music at the Department of Theatre Arts. Mr Nelson Oyesiku was in charge of classical music, Mr Oyelana, folk and comtemporary music, and Dr Esi Kinni-Olusanyin (formerly E. S. Kinney) taught the theory of music. Professor Adelugba handled Performance Theory as part of a course at the graduate level titled Theatre Arts Theory and Criticism.

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