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An Interview with Solá Akingbolá

Interview by Deesha Dyer

I've thought a few times of how to do this interview and introduction. Do I approach it from a fan, journalist or friend viewpoint? I can't decide, so I'll just freestyle and hope it vibes just right. The last time Sola and I did an interview (March 2006), it was about his feeling on HIV and AIDS. If interested, you can read of copy of that here:

#54693. In defining what GeoClan stands for, which is creating a World family and uploading change, I am pleased to present musician Solá Akingbolá. Solá is a native of Nigeria, but has made a home in Europe the past few decades, where he has had the privilege of recording and performing percussion as part of the multi-genred collective/band known as Jamiroquai. While that is quite impressive, we are happy to speak with Solá about his solo debut, Routes to Roots (Arc Music), which channels his Yoruba heritage through various percussion instruments. The album takes listeners on a journey of his traditional childhood, lessons passed down from percussion greats, and influential styles that have shaped his passion of playing music. Open your ears to hear the sound and perhaps you'll catch a rhythm that exposes the emotion and experience of musician, Mr. Solá Akingbolá.


1. Can you tell us a little bit about your heritage and why it was so important to reflect that in this solo project?


My cultural heritage has been a constant source of inspiration to me for as long as I can remember. I never consciously set out to become a drummer/percussionist. The sound of my language (Yoruba) is so melodic and rhythmic, I always new that one day I would try to express this relationship to myself and any one else who was interested. The drummers of Yorubaland    have been the constant seductive sound in my head. To have completed an album with four players from Yorubaland has been a dream come true and an honor.


Sola doing his thing.

2. Besides African, there is a tinge of Latin flavor, where does that come from?


The Latin influence you can hear is the reflections of Africa from a different point of view. The drummers of Latin America have been incredible guardians/torchbearers of the African spirit. When I was trying to improve my skills as a percussionist, I had the pleasure of meeting some incredible players from Cuba ( Irakere's the late great Miguel "Anga" Diaz, Tata Guines,    Los Van Vans -Luis "Changuito" Quintana) who were very kind in showing me the musical and cultural umbilical cord!


3. Who are some of your percussion influences and inspirations? Have you ever met any of them? If so, how was that or describe that feeling?


My influences are all the guys mentioned in question 2. Plus Giovanni Hidalgo, arguably the greatest living conguero. Fela Anikulapo Kuti, his cousin the Nigerian intellectual Wole Soyinka, Yusuf Olatunji one of the beautiful exponents of the Yoruba drum called sakara. The last artist mentioned died a long time before I was born, so I have not had the pleasure of meeting him! As for the others, it was a life changing experience.


4. My physical album is still enroute from Amazon, so can tell me if there are any guest collaborators?


Sola's Album Routes to Roots

There are no collaborations on this project. I felt I needed to establish the concept on my own first. Hopefully for the next Routes to Roots we will feature some interesting artists.


5. Although all the tracks are personal to you, can you tell me which is the one or two that you feel particularly close to?

The track I feel particularly close to is track 5 called Ori Ni Kan. Which means Ori is the One. Ori is that beautiful creative powerful force that we all have, that enables us to achieve amazing things. The poem speaks of personal responsibility. The only power that can follow you to the deepest, furthest place is you. I love this poem.


6. Besides the obvious of the style and solo element, how does this vastly differ from your Jamiroquaicontributions?


The main difference is that I could make this project my own.



Sola using his hands

7. Can fans expect any gigs to support the album? You did say you were rehearsing for a live gig..any details?


Yes, I'm working on some live dates in the New Year. At the moment I'm trying to find some younger players to get involved with. Particularly young Nigerians who are interested in contemporizing the rhythms of old.


8. What is next on your plate?



I would like to finish building the studio /rehearsal space at the back of my house, which is proving to be a rather tricky affair!



To hear samples of Routes to Roots, check here:

drumsfromnigeria-p-768.html (scroll down).


TO BUY Routes to Roots, use that same ARC link or try Amazon, HMV, or your local Itunes.


To learn more about Solá, see


Want to win the new CD? Click here for The Routes To Roots Contest


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Discuss this interview with Sola on GeoBoards

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