They released their debut album in 1967, raised a storm and retired in the 1980s. While they were at it, the Lijadu Sisters, the brave sassy ladies who represented the girl-group phenomenon in the whole of West Africa, were alone. Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu are identical twin sisters born and raised in the Western city of Ibadan in Nigeria.
The last that was heard from The Lijadu Sisters, who incidentally are the only Nigerian all-female music group in recent history, was in 2014, when in April they performed live at an all-star tribute, the Atomic Bomb Band, for Nigerian musician William Onyeabor at the Barbican Centre in London. In May, they performed with the same band on tour dates in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. That was it; 2014. That was the only time they came out of the retirement they had announced in the late 1980s.
The Lijadu Twins Had International Fame
According to a Wikipedia account, “The sisters were top stars in Nigeria during the 1970s and 1980s. During these years, they branched out to America and Europe and found modest success. They performed with drummer Ginger Baker’s band Salt at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games in Munich at the World Music Festival. The New York Times reported that the sisters were ‘smiling free spirits’ who mixed ‘sisterly banter and flirtatiousness’ in their performances, which featured positive messages such as the benefit of returning home.
A New Girl Group Is Born
Fast forward to three decades after, in 2019, a new all-girl musical group has emerged and they have more in common with the Lijadu Sisters than gender. Three very young girls, calling themselves Fah mi li, have thrown their hearts and passion in the game. They dared to walk the least-charted course to female group music glory. For their age, they never saw the Lijadu Sisters in action and they might not have heard of their exploits. How would I know what inspired their courage?
“Smiling Free Spirits”
Fah mi li is a pop group, they say, but like the Lijadu Sisters they are inspired by classic performances by Aretha Franklin and Chakakan. They love the hearty bellows of Adel. They consume the sweet gales from Demi Lovato, sing along with the internet-fix offers of Ariana Grande, and meditate on –wait for it- the thumping rhythms of Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat. Having listened to a demo of their debut single -it was a rare privilege- and present at one of their performance rehearsals, I can describe them as “smiling free spirits” too even without the benefit of remembering what New York Times wrote on the Lijadu Sister in 1974 – more than twenty years before any member of Fah mi li was born.
Show Time: Naija is Ready
Fahmili is based in Nigeria. The three charming members are set to release their debut single officially on September 30, 2019. This is one adventure by very talented and spirited girls you must watch out for. Don’t take my word for it; listen and tell me if they are not, like Lijadu sisters, a load of fun. Never mind that they sing songs expressing deep thoughts and concern for life, love and nature. I present to you the only all-female group to rep Nigeria in such a long time. Show time!
— Ayo Sistem writes for Righton Projectz (Media)