Top 10 greatest Igbo highlife musicians of all time: where are they now?

Top 10 greatest Igbo highlife musicians of all time: where are they now?

Igbo highlife music is a modern music genre that combines highlife and Igbo traditional music. It is unique because it blends the guitar with horns and vocal rhythms. Most Igbo highlife musicians infuse their songs with Pidgin English.

igbo highlife musicians
A guitar next to a brow leather bag with musical notes. Photo:, @Pixabay (modified by author)
Source: UGC

There are many Igbo highlife musicians in the country. This genre of music started in Lagos in the 1920s. Discover the greatest Igbo highlife musicians of all time today.

Greatest Igbo highlife musicians of all time

It takes talent and hard work to become a great musician. Below is a list of the top 10 Igbo highlife musicians in 2022.

10. Ayaka Ozubulu

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  • Full name: Chief Prince Chigozie Obunike
  • Popular hits: Mgbiligba Ego, Ozubulu Massacre, Akachukwu Somu Aga, and Mama Ebezina

Ayaka Ozubulu's real name is Chief Prince Chigozie Obunike. He ranks 10th on the list of Igbo highlife musicians of all time. He is best known for his thick melodious voice.

His Igbo music is educative. He combines folklore stories with a modern live band sound to date. Ayaka Ozubulu's net worth is about $30 million.

9. Chief Onyenze Nwa Amobi

  • Full name: Chief Onyenze Nwa Amobi Richard
  • Age: 43 years (as of 2022)
  • Birthday: 13th January 1979
  • Popular hits: One One Billion, Elibe Agwu Agwu, Omeka Agu, and Onye Elili Eligo Ya

The Igbo music scene would not be as vibrant as it is without Chief Onyenze Nwa Amobi. He released his first track in the year 2000/2001. Besides music, he is an actor. Chief Onyenze Nwa Amobi's net worth is about $3 million as of 2022.

8. Prince Chijioke Mbanefo

  • Full name: Prince Chijioke Mbanefo
  • Popular hits: Unu Egbunam, A Chake Gom, Ndi ji egbe agba ego, and Igwe Ten Ten

Prince Chijioke Mbanefo's net worth remains unknown in the public domain. Mbanefo is one of the top Igbo highlife musicians today. In 2013, he received an award of excellence in music. In 2016, he received an honorary degree. He is still actively involved in the music industry.

7. Bright Chimezie

  • Full name: Bright Chimezie
  • Age: 62 years (as of 2022)
  • Birthday: 1st October 1960
  • Popular hits: Ube Nwanne, Nne Oma, Achorom Zigima Sound, and African Style

Among the names of Igbo highlife musicians is Bright Chimezie. He is a legendary musician with a deep love for African music and traditions. He has received numerous awards for his work in the music industry. Bright Chimezie's net worth is about $1 million.

6. Prince Nico Mbarga

  • Full name: Prince Nico Mbarga
  • Age at death: 47 years
  • Birthday: 1st January 1950
  • Date of death: 24th June 1997
  • Popular hits: Sweet Mother, Happy Birthday, Good Father, and Na My Choice

Prince Nico Mbarga's name cannot miss on the list of old Igbo highlife musicians. He passed away on 24th June 1997 after a successful run in the music industry. He played the conga, xylophone, drums, and electric guitar. Prince Nico Mbarga's net worth at his demise was about $1.5 million.

5. Celestine Ukwu

  • Full name: Celestine Ukwu
  • Age at death: 37 years
  • Birthday: 1940
  • Date of demise: 7th May 1977
  • Popular hits: Ije Enu, Onwunwa, Uso Ndu, Money Palava, and Ife Si Na Chi

Celestine Ukwu released some of the best tracks in the history of Igbo highlife music. He was among the top artists in the 1960s and 1970s. His legacy lives through his music many years after his demise. Celestine Ukwu's net worth at death remains unknown.

4. Cardinal Rex

  • Full name: Jim Rex Lawson
  • Age at death: 33 years
  • Birthday: 4th March 1938
  • Demise: January 1971
  • Popular hits: Love Mu Adure, Jolly Papa, So Ala Temen, and Sawale

Jim Rex Lawson, alias Cardinal Rex, was a singer, trumpeter, and bandleader from Buguma. He was one of the best-known highlife musicians of the 1960s. Cardinal and his band dominated Nigeria's highlife scene. Cardinal Rex's net worth was undisclosed at the time of his passing.

3. Dr. Sir Warrior

  • Full name: Christogonus Ezebuiro Obinna
  • Age at death: 52 years
  • Year of birth: 1947
  • Date of demise: 2nd June 1999
  • Popular hits: Akaraka, Na Kwa Echeki, Madu Mezie Nduya, and Chi Awu Out

Dr. Sir Warrior was 52 years old when he died. His real name was Christogonus Ezebuiro Obinna. He was the leader of the Oriental Brothers International Band, a well-known Nigerian Igbo highlife band. Dr. Sir Warrior's net worth was unknown when he died.

2. Oliver De Coque

  • Full name: Oliver Sunday Akanite
  • Age at death: 61 years
  • Birthday: 14th April 1947
  • Date of demise: 20th June 2008
  • Popular hits: People's club, Father Father, People's Club of Nigeria, and Nwanne Di Na Mba

Oliver Sunday Akanite, alias Oliver De Coque, was a guitarist and one of the most prolific recording artists on the continent. He started playing music at 11 and was taught to play the guitar by a Congolese guitarist. Oliver De Coque's net worth was estimated to be between $1 million and $7 million dollars when he passed away.

1. Osita Osadebe

  • Full name: Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe
  • Age at death: 71 years
  • Birthday: 17th March 1936
  • Date of demise: 11th May 2007
  • Popular hits: Nwanem Ebezina, Agbalu a.k.a. Na Azo Ani, Onuigbo, and Ka-Anyi Jikota

Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, commonly known as Osita Osadebe, died in St. Mary's Hospital Waterbury in Connecticut in May 2007 due to severe respiratory difficulties. He was the king of highlife in Igboland. Osita Osadebe's net worth was unknown when he took his last breath.

Who is the king of highlife music in Igboland?

Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe was the kind of this genre in Igboland. His career spanned over four decades before his demise in May 2007.

Who is the richest Igbo highlife musician?

It is challenging to pinpoint the wealthiest artist because some musicians prefer to keep details of their earnings away from the media. Even so, some of the wealthiest artists are Ayaka Ozubulu, Chief Onyenze Nwa Amobi, Bright Chimezie, and Prince Nico Mbarga.

What is Igbo highlife music?

Igbo highlife music is a genre that combines the highlife style with Igbo traditional music. Usually, it blends the guitar with horns and vocal rhythms.

Who is the best Igbo singer?

Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe is arguably the best Igbo highlife singer. He was crowned the King of Igbo Highlife when he was still alive.

Who is the founder of highlife music in Nigeria?

The founder of highlife music is not known. However, the genre can be traced back to the 1920s in Igboland.

Igbo highlife musicians have made a significant contribution to the Nigerian music industry. This genre is unique because it blends traditional Igbo tunes with modern ones.

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