Lekan Babalola


Olalekan Babalola is a Nigerian Jazz percussionist and musician. At the age of six, he started playing the conga at his father's Aladura church and later formed a patchwork band with his peers.

In 1980, he left Nigeria for the United Kingdom to study Automobile Engineering at the Chelsea College of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering after he won a Lagos State Scholarship. However, he dropped the engineering programme for music and later enrolled at the Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design where he studied filmmaking. He proceeded to the Northern Film School where he completed his Master's degree.

He began his professional career after joining a band called Samba Samba Band and later the New York City-based Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers band, where he perfected playing the Bongo drums and performing jazz music.

Upon his return to the U.K, Babalola later went on to work with notable acts including Prince, Ernest Ranglin, Branford Marsalis, African Jazz All Stars, Roy Ayers, David Byrne, Damon Albarn, Tony Allen amongst others.

In 2006, he became Nigeria's first Grammy Award winner for his work on Ali Farka Toure's In the Heart of the Moon, receiving credit on three songs. He won a second Grammy in 2009 for his work on Cassandra Wilson’s album, Loverly.

In 2017, he released a new single called "Mr. Lakaye" and went on the Ebo Tour through the UK, promoting his Sacred Funk movement.