2 August 1965 (age 52)
Sola Akingbola is percussionist and band member of Jamiroquai, the UK's multi-million album selling Acid-Jazz Funk band. Sola is integral to the Jamiroquai sound - along with drummer, Derrick Mckenzie, he produced the groove chemistry that has rocked the last five albums.
It was Derrick McKenzie who first got Sola the Jamiroquai gig: Derrick had been given the task of finding a new percussionist, and he had three names on his short list. Which one to call first? Intrigued by Sola’s unique name, and needing someone who could immediately step up and fill the percussionist post for a TV show in Paris called Taratata, Derrick picked up the phone and dialled.
When Derrick made that call, Sola had just completed an intense eight-month world tour with the then up-and-coming Jazz guitarist, Ronny Jordan. Sola recorded two albums with (the late) Ronny Jordan – ‘A Quiet Storm’ and ‘Light to Dark’ - and contributed two compositions to the latter. Sola thought he was looking forward to a well-earned rest and instead, was caught up for the next ten years in the whirlwind global success of Jamiroquai.
Now taking centre-stage as lead singer, Sola is currently working towards completing a second recording of his own original compositions - a new live project called CRITICAL MASS. A funky roots project with a hard, futuristic edge, CRITICAL MASS combines tastefully layered percussion with funky grooves drawn from the creative use of the Yoruba language. Laced with a healthy dose of synths and twisted guitars, Sola has concocted a funky roots sound that drives forward a contemporary Afro-UK perspective.
The band will be launched in April 2014 with the first single and video entitled ‘Generation Vex’, which is a response to the revolutionary undercurrents and moments of defiance that have characterized the beginning of the 21st Century. From the Arab spring and the Occupy movement, to the riots in Paris and London, GENERATION VEX is a funky roots response to the angry voice of a new generation of global youth.
Sola brings a synthesis of his Nigerian - Yoruba ancestry to all his work, as well as his London experience and immersion in Afro-Beat, Latin Jazz and the grooves of Black American music. He is inspired by a diverse group of artists such as Afro –Beat and Apala artists (Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Haruna Isola); Afro –Cuban bands (Irakere; Los Van Van); singer songwriters (everything from David Bowie and Cat Stevens to Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder) and US funk big bands (Earth, Wind and Fire; Funkadelic), to name but a few.
A self-taught musician, Sola was deeply inspired by London’s 80’s underground rare groove scene; he danced and was a DJ in his formative years, before developing his drumming skills with London-based Nigerian percussionist, Gasper Lawal. Advancing his career as a founding member of the eclectic Joji Hirota percussion trio – Ubiquity, Sola began to develop what he is renowned for, which is a percussion-based compositional style.
In between touring, writing and working on his own solo projects (Sola’s first solo album ‘Routes to Roots’ was released on ARC Music, 2007), Sola continues to work on several other collaborations, including recording with the likes of Damon Albarn, Lokua Kanza, Fatoumata Diawara and Newton Faulkner.
Ever the performer, Sola found time between 2010 and 2013, to tread the boards at the National Theatre (‘Death and The King’s Horseman’ - 2010) and the Young Vic (‘The Feast’ - 2013) in which he featured as a singer, performer and co-arranger, for a production, directed by Rufus Norris, which explored the influence of Yoruba culture throughout the diaspora.
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