At seventy years old, Bongos Ikwue is still going strong. Ikwue made a big impact on the thriving music scene in Nigeria during the 1970s. Shops and bars pumped out a diverse range of styles including: highlife, juju, funk, Afrobeat, R&B, country, Indian film music, Congolese music and reggae. Ikwue’s band The Groovies tapped into American funk and soul music, playing hits from James Brown’s JB’s, Mandrill, Kool & The Gang and others while mixing in their own compositions influenced by traditional and popular African music. Few groups in Nigeria could claim to have the same sort of musical range that The Groovies had at that time.
“Sadly, the Nigerian music scene has lost the Nigerian flavor in it. I know who I am, where I have been and where I will always love to return to.” – Bongos Ikwue
The warm, soulful voice of Bongos Ikwue resonates with passion on his new record Wulu Wulu, which is available now on Bik Records. While Ikwue’s been a recording artist for more than forty years, this is his first release outside of Nigeria. On this recording he is joined by his new band Double X. The name describes the intersecting nature of his music – traditional and contemporary, local and international. Growing up in Nigeria, Ikwue was influenced by Sam Cooke and Brook Benton as much as the Idoma traditional music he was raised with. Those influences are easy to hear on Wulu Wulu, which is a rewarding listen from start to finish. Ikwue sounds energized by his talented band and Double X can turn on a dime. One minute they’re playing country, the next minute they’re on to reggae before digging into a killer Afro-Caribbean groove. If you’re unfamiliar with Ikwue’s music, Wulu Wulu is a great starting place as he re-imagines some of his classic material and pens some new gems. He is currently planning a U.S. tour, but in the meantime, you can watch Bongos Ikwue in the studio working on Wulu Wulu.