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Highlife musician Godwin Kabaka of Oriental Brothers dies at 77

Veteran Highlife musician and co-founder of Oriental Brothers International Band Godwin Kabaka Opara has died at age 77.

Kabaka’s record label Derda Promotions confirmed his passing in a statement to Cable LifeStyle on Friday.

Ammarachi Anyanwu, the chief operating officer of Derda Promotions, disclosed that the musician died on Thursday.

The cause of his death was, however, not revealed.

“Derda Promotions is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our esteemed artist, Godwin Kabaka Opara, an icon who pioneered and revolutionized Highlife music, on March 21st, 2024,” the statement reads in part.

Kabaka was also a songwriter and guitarist who brought joy to countless fans with his infectious highlife music.

His musical journey spanned several decades, genres, and bands. He co-founded The Oriental Brothers International Band in 1973, a Highlife powerhouse known for its socially conscious lyrics, instrumental mastery, and authentic sound that resonated with millions across Africa and beyond.

In 1976, Kabaka embarked on a solo career, forming The Kabaka International Guitar Band. He continued to produce high-quality Highlife music, releasing fourteen albums and creating hits like ‘Mangala Special’.

He also experimented with Ezebongo rhythms, showcasing his versatility and creativity. Later, he joined forces with The Imo City Band, further solidifying his status as a Highlife legend.

With the support of Derda Promotions, Kabaka made a triumphant return in September 2023 with the album The Return of Kabaka after a long hiatus.

Some of his major albums with the Oriental Brothers are ‘Uwa Atualamujo/ Ihe Chinyere,’ ‘Ihe Oma,’ ‘Ischim nyara gi,’ ‘Five Fingers,’ ‘Oriental Special,’ ‘Osa enwe akwu,’ ‘Onyaoma nmadu eji egbuya,’ ‘Anam ele chi,’ ‘Hallelujah,’ “Madu bu aja’ and ‘Abialam.’

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