Babatunde Olatunji | Ascension (Igoke)

Babatunde Olatunji (April 7, 1927 – April 6, 2003) was a Nigerian drummer, educator, social activist and recording artist. Olatunji was born in the village of Ajido, a small town near Badagry, Lagos State, in southwestern Nigeria. A member of the Yoruba people, Olatunji was introduced to traditional African music at an early age. He read in Reader’s Digest magazine about the Rotary International Foundation’s scholarship program, and applied for it. He came to the United States of America in 1950. Olatunji won a following among jazz musicians, notably creating a strong relationship with John Coltrane and Columbia Records A&R man John Hammond who signed him to the Columbia label in 1957. With Coltrane’s help, he founded the Olatunji Center for African Culture in Harlem. This was the site of Coltrane’s final performance.

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