Little is known about William Onyeabor, and that’s the way he likes it.
Sure, you might hear something about him if you go to Enugu, a rural and isolated town in Eastern Nigeria, where he lives in a hidden palace in the woods. As a crowned High Chief of his Igbo village, he is arbiter of his community. He also rejoices in expanding Nigeria’s energetic Christian music scene. The man is not in hiding. But he has turned his back on the music that made him a star to Enugu youth in the turbulent 1980s.
What makes a man turn his back on his past? William Onyeabor is a powerful man and yet he chooses to remain a mystery. It is as if Onyeabor, in the prime of his force, has chosen to forget the work of his youth…the stinging Afro-funk; tickly wah-wah; searing jazz synth keyboard; runs suggesting spaceships leading into helium-voiced choruses singing in a jingle-jangle; tuning from the faraway stars; and that particular nostalgic sound found when the first electronic drum machines arrived to tantalize drummers everywhere.