Orlando Julius Aremu Olusanya Ekemode, born 1943, professionally known as Orlando Julius or Orlando Julius Ekemode, was a Nigerian saxophonist, singer, bandleader, and songwriter known for afrobeat music.
Orlando Julius was in Ikole, Nigeria during British colonialism to a merchant family with roots in Ijebu-Jesa, Osun. his first musical teacher was his mother, who would sing and dance while he played drums.
Julius got his start playing drums or flute with juju and konkoma bands and learned saxophone to play highlife music, eventually playing with musicians Jazz Romero, Rex Williams, and Eddie Okonta.
Early Life and Education
Orlando Julius was born Ikole, Nigeria during British colonialism to a merchant family with roots in Ijebu-Jesa, Osun. He attended St. Peter’s Anglican School in Ikole and played in the school band.
In 1957 he dropped out of school due to the death of his father and he left for Ibadan to pursue his music career. His mother was supportive of her career and became her first musical teacher. The mother would sing and dance while he played drums.
The legendary singer previously worked at a bakery while playing the drums or flute with juju and konkoma bands to entertain customers.
Orlando Julius began his career while he was at a tender age with massive support of his mother who served as his music teacher, singer and dancing while he play drum.
He tried to connect with highlife musician, Jazz Romero and he was finally invited by Romero to play with his band at a hotel in Ondo which gave him recognition.
Orlando Julius became the bandleader after Romero got into a conflict with a nightclub owner and walked out on a gig. He later joined Rex Williams’s highlife band.
Eddie Okonta invited Julius to join his band in 1960.
In 1960, Eddie Okonta who was one of the most popular highlife acts in Nigeria, invited Julius to join his band and they recorded several songs together, performing many gigs, and even opened for Louis Armstrong. His first single, “Igbehin Adara”, was recording with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation the same year.
They played regularly at the Independence Hotel in Ibadan. The combination of traditional music with American genres came to be known as afrobeat, a term coined by Fela Kuti. Kuti would attend Modern Aces performances, and Julius would sometimes bring him on stage to play. According to Julius, it was because of him that Kuti learned to play saxophone.
Orlando Julius Net Worth
Orlando Julius had an estimated net worth of $1million. He was a talented and legendary highlife musician who created impact with his music and will be always remembered.
Orlando Julius Ekemode
Orlando Julius was married to his wife Lotoya Ekemode. in 2019, he moved with his wife to Ijebu-Jesa. The Elegboro of Ijebu-Jesa, Oba Moses Ogunsoye, gave him an honorary title, “Gbeluniyi” and considered him an “honorary chief”.
On April 15, 2022, Orlando Julius’s wife Latoya reported that the singer died in his sleep, at the age of 79. The Elegboro praised Julius as “a very good ambassador of Ijebu-Jesa town, Oriade as a local government, and Nigeria as a whole”
The Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture issued a statement that “his passion for music was unparalleled” and crediting him with helping to bring afrobeat music to a global audience.
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