Celestine Ukwu

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Biography / Profile

Celestine Ukwu was born in 1940 in Enugu, Enugu state, Nigeria. He was an Igbo highlife musician born to music-oriented parents. His father was a local performer of the Ikpa, Igede and Ode genres of Igbo music, while his mother was a lead singer in a women’s musical group. His grand mother was equally a folk musician and dancer. He is best known for his hit songs, “Money Palava’, ‘Igede’ and ‘Ije Enu’.
Celestine Ukwu would have been 82 years old, if he were alive today. May his soul rest in peace.

At a young age, with the help of his uncle, he learnt how to read music and play the harmonium and after his primary education, he went on to the Teacher Training College but later dropped out in order to pursue a career in Music.
At a young age, with the help of his uncle, he learnt how to read music and play the harmonium and after his primary education, he went on to the Teacher Training College but later dropped out in order to pursue a career in Music.
He started out with Mike Ejeagha’s group in Enugu in the year 1962 and later joined Mr Picolo’s band in touring the Democratic Republic of Congo. He later returned after four years to form his own band called ‘Celestine Ukwu and The Music Royals’ in 1966, before the Nigerian Civil War broke out in 1967. After the civil war, his band re-emerged with a new name, ‘Celestine Ukwu and His Philosophers National’ in 1970, distinguishing themselves with a relaxed and sensuous form of highlife such as the ‘Igede Fantasia’, which was released in 1970 and is recorded to have done well commercially. After Ukwu's death in 1977, the group continued for two years as the Celestine Ukwu Memorial Dance Band, led by vocalist 'Buzuzu' Mogbo. His songs were mainly composed in Igbo language with a blend of Efik language.
Ukwu died in an automobile accident on May 8, 1977. He was aged 37.
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