Sikiru Adepoju is a master of the talking drum and many other Yoruba percussion instruments. After moving to the San Fransico Bay Area in 1985, Sikiru joined the influential and pioneering Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olantunji and his Drums of Passion. This marked a lengthy period of high productivity from Sikiru which saw him recording and performing throughout the world until a year before Olantunji’s death in 2003. During this period he was introduced to Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart, who has called Sikiru “The Mozart of the talking drum,” and employed him on many of his personal projects including the Grammy award winning albums Planet Drum (1991) & Global Drum Project (2008). Sikiru has shared the stage or recorded with many of music’s finest including The Grateful Dead, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana, Ornette Coleman, Airto Moreira, Zakir Hussein, Pharaoh Sanders, Dave Schools, George Porter Jr., and many more. It is his versatility, skill, good humor, and willingness to push the limits of his drumming and his music which has gained Sikiru acceptance and respect among his peers and music listeners of all tastes. Now, in 2020 Sikiru brings us a new album titled “Ope (Gratitude)” with the group dubbed Riddim Doctors on MansMark Records.
I had the honor of spending a little time with Sikiru recently to discuss the new album. We get into the long and winding journey this music has taken, along with Sikiru, in order to make it out to the world. We talk about the incredible process and the amazing people behind the album’s sound and style. Including the role, Zakir Hussain played in the process. We also spoke about what he was able to learn, as a master when he started to talk with, work with and create with both Babatunde Olatunji and Mickey Hart. it is within this portion of the conversation that I knew Sikiru and I were connected by the bridge of the moment, finding your space within each of those moments. It’s times like this that remind me why it’s not just about the sounds, it’s about those who bring them to us just as much. While I have been close to him via his previous recordings and projects and that has helped me grow as a listener and sharer, this new music brings all that back plus, a sense of the now where this music, this sentiment is needed.