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Babatunde | Olatunji Arts Center | Baba’s Proteges

Baba's Time Line

1927 – Born in the small village of Ajido, Nigeria, about forty miles from Lagos, the capital of the country. As a child, Olatunji accompanied
his great aunt Toyin to hear the drums - hollowed out from trees and covered with the skin of goats - punctuate the lives of his people.

1950 – Olatunji and his cousin were each awarded a scholarship and were on their way to America to attend school in Atlanta, Georgia

1954 – After graduating from Atlanta’s Morehouse College with a degree in Diplomacy, Olatunji moved to New York City to begin a Political Science
postgraduate program in Public Administration at New York University. To cover his expenses started a small drumming and dance group Insights
on the cultural divides between black and white Americans were the motivating factor that brought Olatunji to begin performing the drumming of
his Yoruba ancestors.

1957 – Columbia Records producer John Hammond heard Olatunji performing at Radio City Music Hall with a 66-piece orchestra. This meeting led
directly to a recording contract and the recording of Drums of Passion

1959 – Olatunji’s first album Drums of Passion, first album to bring genuine African music to Western ears, released by Columbia Records.
It became an unprecedented, worldwide smash hit, selling over five million copies and 50 million copies to date.

1963 – Join Martin Luther King for his March on Washington

1964 – Olatunji performed at the African Pavilion at the New York World Fair where he was able to raise enough money to open the Olatunji Center
for African Culture (OCAC) in Harlem, offering classes in African dance, music, language, folklore, and history. The NEA help to fund Olatuni’s OCAC
teacher and student training programs which went to all over the schools in the New York tri-state area, all the way to Long Island. He drummed
at civil rights rallies along side Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X and Nelson Mandela, but his musical activism also crossed racial identities

1993 – Awarded the All One Tribe Drumming Education Award for his commitment to children, interracial harmony and education.

1996 – Cultural ambassador Baba Olatunji manifested another of his goals by inviting thousands of drummers to congregate at the Washington Monument, prior to Clinton’s Presidential Election to participate in Drum Dance and Prayer for Peace.

1997 – Love Drum Talk, is last CD released was nominated for a Grammy Award.

2003 (6 April) – Passed over to Ancestors.