In 1969, twin sisters Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu released their first studio album ya Mi Jowo (“Mother, Please) through Decca records. Known professionally as the Lijadu Sisters, the duo would go on to release a series of unique and influential LPs throughout the next two decades before retiring from the commercial music industry in 1984. The sisters sing in perfect harmony over a fusion of afrobeat, soul, and psychedelic rock instrumentation, exploring a variety of social, political and emotional themes. Tracks like “Cashing In” (from Danger, 1976) feature feminist calls to action, while love songs like “Promise” lament the pain of a broken heart. The sisters’ music continues to permeate contemporary pop culture through sampling, notably Nas’ unreleased “Life’s Gone Low” which samples the Lijadu Sisters track of a similar name (Life’s Gone Down Low from Danger).
In these archival documentary excerpts, the Lijadu sisters rehearse, record and discuss album material and their experiences as women in the emergent pop music industry. “In the past, men believed that the wife should stick to the kitchen and bring kids into the world, that’s all” says Kehinde. “Women have been playing important roles in the world of politics, in music, in the hospitals…in every aspect of life you find women….” Taiwo furthers. The two agree that female representation in the music industry specifically is limited, but that overall female representation in the professional sphere will continue to increase.
Additional footage captures the sisters arguing with producer Odion Iruoje at a recording session in Decca Studios, Lagos. Says Taiwo of the label: “As far as they are concerned, you can keep owing them and paying them back until the day you die”. Taiwo and Kehinde left Decca in 1984.
The clips below offer an intimate view into the Lijadu sisters’ creative process and artistic identity. Tracks featured include “Touch Me” and an early rendition of “Gbowo-Mi”, both of which have disappeared from circulating discographies. Production credits for this docuseries could not be located.