Google is celebrating Nigerian musician Oliver De Coque on his 74th post-humous birthday.
The doodle, illustrated by Nigerian visual artist and illustrator Ohab TBJ, celebrates one of Africa’s most prolific recording artists who is considered one of the prime exemplars of and chief innovators in contemporary Igbo popular music.
Born Oliver Sunday Akanite on this day in 1947 in the small town of Ezinifite in southeastern Nigeria, De Coque first took up the guitar at the age of 11. He was taught to play the guitar by Piccolo, a Congolese guitarist living in Nigeria. As a teenager, studied the traditional Igbo music of the region and Congolese soukous.
In 1970, at a performance by the popular Sunny Agaga and his Lucky Star Band, De Coque convinced Sunny to let him stand in as their guitarist; he was hired on the spot, providing a massive boost to his young career. Also a skilled player of the Nigerian board game okwe, he became known as “Oliver de ka Okwe,” which he later adapted into his stage name, Oliver de Coque.
De Coque famously infused the modern West African highlife genre with a Congolese-influenced guitar style and the energetic dance elements of Igbo music he grew up with, crafting a unique musical style, which he called Ogene. Beginning with his first solo release in 1976, de Coque’s music only grew in popularity at home and abroad, as he put out album after album featuring his masterful guitar work and fresh take on African pop–over 70 throughout his lifetime.
In 1994, in recognition of his prodigious music achievement, de Coque was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by the University of New Orleans.
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