The man whom former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart calls "the Mozart of the talking drum," Sikiru Adepoju (Seek-ee-roo Ah-deh-poh-joo), first came to the focus of the American music scene through his involvement with Hart in the Grammy Award winning Planet Drum project. His technical mastery of the talking drum and various indigenous percussion instruments (dundun, gudugudu, gome, omele, sekere, etc.) have gained acceptance and respect among music listeners of all tastes. Yet, it is his unique spirit, discipline, and commitment to the moment that have gained him respect among his musical peers, and have contributed to his ability to engage and draw in audiences, body & mind, all the over globe.
Born in Eruwa, Western Nigeria, Sikiru grew up in a "talking drum family" where he began his tutelage of the instrument at his father's side, at the age of six years old. He quickly won himself appreciation as a leading force on the talking drum throughout his homeland and, in 1985, Sikiru and several other musicians from Nigeria came to the United States to record and tour.
After he moved to the Bay Area in 1985, Sikiru soon met world-renowned percussionist and leading African music artist Babatunde Olatunji. Shortly after meeting Olatunji, Sikiru joined his Drums of Passion ensemble and began a 17 year period of productivity with the group, recording & touring extensively throughout the world, until a year before Olatunji's death in 2003.
While a member of Olatunji's Drums of Passion, Sikiru recorded with Stevie Wonder, & Carlos Santana, and performed with the Grateful Dead, where he met Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. It was after meeting Hart that Sikiru also joined Hart's Planet Drum ensemble to record & tour. In 1991 the group's debut release "Planet Drum" hit #1 on the Billboard World Music Chart, remaining there for 26 weeks, and went on to receive a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. In 2002 Sikiru joined Mickey Hart's Bembe Orisha (party to the spirits), where he continues to tour & perform.
In 2003 Sikiru joined Trinidad born steel pan wizard Val Serrant to create Afrika Heartbeat. Afrika Heartbeat melds the musical influences of Yoruba culture across the African Diaspora with a foundation in Nigerian Juju music and Highlife.
At the time I sent Sikiru the drum Mickey Hart had commissioned me to make for him, I had never met Mr. Sikiru. About a week later, the phone rang and an excited person with an endearing accent said,"Hey, how you doing?" on the other end. I figured it was some friend of mine goofing around as we sometimes do so I responded in kind, and after a few times back and forth they finally say "Yeah, so I got the drum." At exactly that moment I realized I was talking to Mr. Sikiru who went on to say that he had come home from the studio to get lunch and was just heading back out the door when UPS showed up with a mystery package. To his surprise it was a brand new HandMade Rhythm ashiko from Mickey Hart. So he took it with him to the studio and Giovanni Hidalgo was there so next thing he starts recording with it. This is the kind of thing I love to hear.
Congratulations to Sikiru Adepojou for his most recent achievement, a 2009 Grammy for Best Comporary World Music Album by Global Drum Project.