I.K. Dairo & His Blue Spots
The only African musician to have been awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth, I.K. Dairo is fondly remembered as the father of Juju music. After working as a singer and guitarist for other groups, he formed the Morning Star Orchestra in 1956, later changing the name to Blue Spots. At the time Juju music was centered around call-and-response vocals and the talking drum and incorporated diverse African and Latin rhythms. Dairo is credited with expanding its repertoire to include more elements of Yoruba folklore and oral history. Dairo also introduced the button accordion and the slide guitar, transforming Juju into a more sophisticated popular music. His skills as a composer and lyricist are universally respected by Nigerians (not just Yorubas), and musicians are forever in his debt for founding Nigeria's first performing rights society. He remained an innovator and a gracious ambassador of African music until passing in 1996.