Barrister

Emerged in the mid-'70s as one of Nigeria’s leading fuji vocalists and band leaders.
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Artist Biography

b. 30 October 1948, Lagos, Nigeria. Barrister - or to give him his full name, Alhaji Chief Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister - emerged in the mid-70s as one of Nigeria’s leading fuji vocalists and band leaders (fuji being a Muslim-dominated relation of juju music, retaining that style’s vocal and percussion elements but eschewing its use of electric guitars to achieve a more traditional, roots sound). From his early teens, Barrister was widely known throughout Nigeria’s Muslim community for his regular participation at the nationwide ‘were’ music and culture festivals, held to celebrate the end of the annual fast of Ramadan. He became a professional performer in 1970, on leaving the Nigerian army at the end of the 1967-70 civil war. Forming the Supreme Fuji Commanders (a 25-piece group of vocalists and percussionists), he toured Nigeria’s Muslim areas almost continuously through the 70s, and began regularly recording in the early 80s, as fuji began to rival juju among non-Muslim, mainstream, Nigerian record buyers. Barrister’s leading rival for the fuji throne has, since the mid-70s, been Alhaji Chief Kollington Ayinla. Relations between the two men took a particularly bitter turn in 1982, when Kollington alleged on an album lyric that Barrister had been responsible for fellow band leader Ayinla Omowura’s death during a fight in a bar. A more recent rival has been Wasiu Barrister, a vocalist with his namesake’s Supreme Fuji Commanders from 1978-84, who left to form the Talazo Fuji Commanders Organisation. Barrister would comment: ‘It’s not a threat. I am there as the father, he is there as the son.’ In 1988 Barrister was awarded a PhD from City University, Los Angeles, USA, and the following year was voted musician of the year in Nigeria. Concerts in London, England, followed in 1990, performing what had been dubbed internationally as ‘Fuji Garbage’. While there, sessions for a first international album for Globestyle Records were completed, furthering Barrister’s international audience and reputation. His 1993 UK tour saw the full 34-piece aggregation of his fuji percussion orchestra playing incredible shows, with musicians spilling over into enthused audiences.