Israel Anyahuru

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Israel Anyahuru was a Nigerian musician of Igbo heritage who is celebrated as a mother musician in the traditional Igbo music style of Ukom but also known for his musical exploits in the traditional styles of mgba and ese music. Ukom is a traditional Igbo music style with a tuned drum row with about ten component mortal shell single membrane drums. Ukom style is considered an art form sang as an event music to accord full funeral rights in the funeral of an accomplished individual usually a female.

Early life

Anyahuru was born in the town of Amapu, an Umuoha village in the land of the Isiala Ngwa people of Eastern Nigeria. He was born into a polygamous family as his father had three wives with Israel's mother the middle wife. Israel had four other siblings from his birth mother's side: a total of four boys all together and the eldest a girl. After the girl got married while Anyahuru was between the ages 5 to 7, his father reidstributed the chores of the household and Anyahuru most times was given the role of filling the void of his married sister's by helping his mother with work on the farm and doing other jobs his sister did. As a child, his early experience with music was watching various musical events such as ogbom, a ritual music used for celebrating the gods and watching his uncle who was an ukom player playing with his group.

Music career

Anyahuru's early foray into music as a teenager was playing the xylophone then used as a child's musical instrument, he also belonged to a music loving group of agemates, the group played traditional ukom and mgba music especially newly introduced types while imitating the styles of adults. At the age of fifteen, a chance encounter with an ukom group led him into playing traditional adult music styles. The story of the encounter goes that Anyahuru bluffed an ukom group playing a newer version of ukom music in a event setting by challenging them that their music was below the standard set by the style's pioneer, in return the group members teased him and told him to show his expertise. However, Anyahuru utlizing his earlier experience in the children ukom group performed well and was immediately recruited into the adult group. Initially, he played in the ensemble as a receiver soloist. After the death of a member who was also an uncle of his, Anyahuru became the group's official accompanist on the drum row where he was able to learn many of the old ukom pieces. The illness and death of the group's leader led Anyahuru to take on leadership responsibilities for the group. His new found role made him earn more than before and also his prominence as a leading ukom performer in Ngwa land flourished. His performances were a mixture of ancient and new ukom music and were usually lengthy musical pieces that were infused with many proverbs and recognizable themes.

As an ukom leader, Anyahuru was also invited to participate in performances of mgba and ese music.

Personal life

Anyahuru was married with five children including one who is a university lecturer. From the age of , he grew up with his elder brother who was versed in the traditional music style of mgba, a form wrestling music with a tuned row emsemble.