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Trumpeter And Highlife Luminary Dr. Victor Olaiya Dies At 89

Portrait of Dr. Victor Olaiya at Ojuelegba in Lagos

Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images

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Trumpeter And Highlife Luminary Dr. Victor Olaiya Dies At 89

The musician reportedly passed around noon on Wednesday, (Feb. 12) in Lagos, Nigeria

GRAMMYs/Feb 14, 2020 - 05:35 am

According to a Wednesday (Feb. 12) report from Nigeria's Punch newspaper, the legendary trumpeter and highlife musician Victor Olaiya, has died.

Frequently referred to as the "evil genius of highlife," or Dr. Victor Abimbola Olaiya OOON, Olaiya was 89 years old.

The news was confirmed by Managing Director of the Evergreen Music Company, Bimbo Esho.

Olaiya was at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria when he passed, reportedly due to a brief illness that has not been specified.

Highlife is originally a Ghanian style of music that rose to prominence in the early 20th century by using the rhythms, melodies and sensibility of traditional Akan music played on popular western instruments.

Olaiya is often credited with contributing to the structure of Nigeria’s music industry, having become one of the country's first widely successful artists during the 1960s within the genre.

As a boy, Olaiaya learned how to play the French Horn and Bombardon, which eventually lead to his exploration of various other instruments including the trumpet and the saxophone. After rejecting the chance to pursue an education in Civil Engineering at Howard University, Olaiya went the route of music and played alongside the Sammy Akpabot Band while also leading the Old Lagos City Orchestra with his trumpet. In 1954, he broke away from the Bobby Benson Jam Orchestra in order to start his own troupe called the Cool Cats, which was later renamed as the All-Star.

Throughout the '60s his discography grew tremendously as the artist began to explore his own musicality, much of his material having been reissued for his fans for years to come. Throughout his career, the "Taxi Driver" and "Baby Mi Da (Baby Jowo)" singer performed alongside Louis Armstrong, performed for Queen Elizabeth II at a Lagos state ball, and he even once served as the President of the Nigerian Union of Musicians.

Olaiya's life and work are still prominently celebrated by Nigerian music fans and beyond. His legacy of excellence in music and worldwide impact through instrumentation will live imminently.

Details regarding a memorial service for Olaiya have yet to be announced.

Melvin Edmonds Of R&B Vocal Group After 7 Dies At 65

Melvin Edmonds

Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

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Melvin Edmonds Of R&B Vocal Group After 7 Dies At 65

Edmonds was the "soul" and "signature element" of the group said member Keith Mitchell

GRAMMYs/May 21, 2019 - 03:05 am

Melvin Edmonds of GRAMMY-nominated late-80s R&B vocal group After 7, known for hits like "Ready Or Not," has died at the age of 65. 

His death was confirmed by After 7 group member Keith Mitchell via Facebook. The cause of death has not been officially released. Essence reports Edmonds died Saturday after battling a short illness. The singer had a stroke in 2011 among other health issues, according to CNN.  

"I will miss you; I love you, and Melvin, your legacy will live on through the music we created together!!" Mitchell said in the post.

Edmonds was the "soul" and "signature element" of the group, wrote Mitchell, which the two co-founded along with one of Edmonds' brothers Kevon. After 7 had three singles land on the Billboard Hot 100 in the '90s. The singles, "Can't Stop," "Ready Or Not" and "Heat Of The Moment" all hit the top 20. The group was nominated for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "Can't Stop" at the 33rd GRAMMY Awards

Beyond a musician, Edmonds was a father of four and brother to five, including Kenny "Babyface," Marvin Jr., Michael, Kevon and Derek.

"Melvin's love for audiences and fans everywhere who supported our music is what drove him on stage and in life. He is and will be missed by my family, fans, and friends," Mitchell said. 

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Keith Wilder, Heatwave Lead Singer, Dies

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Keith Wilder, Heatwave Lead Singer, Dies

The GRAMMY-nominated "Boogie Nights" and "Always And Forever" singer dies at age 65

GRAMMYs/Nov 1, 2017 - 04:10 am

Keith Wilder, the lead singer of GRAMMY-nominated '70s R&B/funk hitmakers Heatwave, died Oct. 29 at the age of 65. Wilder's death was confirmed by the group's manager, Les Spaine, via Rolling Stone. No specific cause of death has been confirmed, although fellow Heatwave band member Billy Jones told Dayton.com that Wilder died in his sleep.

Wilder, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, formed Heatwave in 1975 in Germany with his brother, Johnnie Wilder Jr., who was serving in the Army. The duo subsequently enlisted songwriter/keyboardist Rod Temperton, drummer Ernest "Bilbo" Berger, bassist Mario Mantese, and guitarists Eric Johns and Roy Carter.

In 1976 the group released their debut album, the platinum-plus Too Hot To Handle, which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200. The album spawned the hits "Boogie Nights" (No. 2) and "Always And Forever," both of which attained platinum status. Heatwave's sophomore LP, Central Heating, hit No. 10 on the strength of the Top 20 hit "The Groove Line." The group's third album, 1980's Hot Property, was certified gold.

Moving into a new decade, Heatwave released 1980's Candles and 1982's Current. By then, the group had lost Mantese, Wilder Jr. and Temperton, who at that point was emerging as a go-to songwriter for the likes of Michael Jackson, George Benson and Michael McDonald, among others.

Keith Wilder revamped Heatwave for 1988's The Fire, and kept the band alive as a touring entity into the '90s. While Wilder continued to tour in recent years, he was forced to retire from the road after suffering a stroke in 2015.

Wilder scored two nominations with Heatwave at the 20th GRAMMY Awards: Best Arrangement For Voices for "All You Do Is Dial" and Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus for "Boogie Nights"

"Johnnie was a MONSTER singer whose harmony game is unmatched," said Questlove in an Instagram post. "No REAL singer worth their grain of salt NEVER denied his mastery."

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Mel Tillis, Legendary Country Singer/Songwriter, Dies

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

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Mel Tillis, Legendary Country Singer/Songwriter, Dies

Songwriter who wrote hits for Kenny Rogers, Tom Jones and Brenda Lee dies at age 85

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2017 - 08:59 pm

Mel Tillis, one of the more prolific singer/songwriters in country music history, died Nov. 19 following a battle with intestinal issues. He was 85 years old.

With a catalog of more than 1,000 songs, Tillis released more than 60 LPs over his six-decade-plus career. In the 1970s, Tillis hit a stride with a string of country chart smashes, including "Good Woman Blues," "Heart Healer" and "Coca Cola Cowboy." 

In addition to his successful solo career, Tillis wrote a variety of hits for artists such as Brenda Lee ("Emotions"), Webb Pierce ("I'm Tired"), Kenny Rogers ("Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town"), Charley Pride ("The Snakes Crawl At Night"), George Strait ("Thoughts Of A Fool"), Ricky Skaggs ("Honey, Open That Door"), and Tom Jones ("Detroit City"), among others.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss recorded Tillis' "Stick With Me Baby" for their T Bone Burnett-produced Raising Sand, which won Album Of The Year at the 51st GRAMMY Awards.

In 2007 he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tillis was awarded a National Medal of Arts in 2011 by President Barack Obama.

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British Composer Oliver Knussen Dies At 66

Oliver Knussen

 

Photo: Frans Schellenkens/Getty Images

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British Composer Oliver Knussen Dies At 66

The GRAMMY-nominated composer was known for his operatic adaption of "Where The Wild Things Are" and was awarded the 2015 Queen's Medal for music

GRAMMYs/Jul 10, 2018 - 10:19 pm

British renowned composer and conductor Oliver Knussen has died. The influential GRAMMY nominee worked with many great orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and most recently the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Knussen's death was announced by his publisher, Faber Music, on July 9. The publisher did not release a cause of death, but the BBC reports that the composer died "after a short illness."

"Knussen was one of the world’s most eminent and influential composer-conductors and leaves behind him a body of work of crystalline concision, complexity and richness," Faber Music said on their website. "His impact on the musical community – both in the U.K. and around the world – was extraordinary, and is a testament to his great generosity and curiosity as a musician, as well as his unfailing love and deep knowledge of the art form."

Born in Glasgow in 1952, Knussen was just 15 years old when he wrote his first symphony. The composer worked with the late children's author Maurice Sendak in the '80s to create an operatic adaptation of "Where The Wild Things Are," one of his most famous works. A year after creating the opera, Knussen once again collaborated with Sendak on an operatic adaptation for another of his books, "Higglety Pigglety Pop!"

Knussen was also the music director of the London Sinfonietta, artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival, and artist in association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, among other roles. He was nominated for a GRAMMY five times during his career and won many other awards, including the 2015 Queen's Medal for music and the Ivor Novello Award for Classical Music.

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