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Highlife
Hear an audio clip from Rex Lawson's 'Bere Bote'
Hear an audio clip from Rex Lawson’s “Bere Bote”
Highlife music originated in Ghana and became Western Africa's first popular music trend. The palm wine guitar tradition of Nigeria's Ibo musicians evolved easily into the guitar-based highlife sound. The moniker “highlife” is a nod to African high society, the early adopters and patrons of the sound, which Africanized the European-influenced music of society bands and military marching bands.

Bobby Benson was one of the first Nigerian highlife stars, forming his band in Lagos in 1947. Other popular highlife artists include "Cardinal" Rex Lawson, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe and The Oriental Brothers.

Highlife suffered a decline in the late 1960s and '70s. As the Nigerian civil war raged, the predominantly Ibo highlife musicians left the city of Lagos. While highlife music has never regained the popularity it once had, contemporary musicians like Solex Band International are attempting to put it back on the map.
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