Babatunde Olatunji is "Master of Drums," a virtuoso of West African percussion. Born and raised in Nigeria, Olatunji was educated at Morehouse College in Atlanta and the New York University Graduate School. At Morehouse, he began performing informally, entertaining fellow students. As the demand for his music increased, he entered the professional music field.
In 1959, Columbia Records released Olatunji's first album, Drums of Passion, which was the first album to bring genuine African music to Western ears. Olatunji has traveled the world for forty years spreading his music and African culture. He founded the Olatunji Center of African Culture in the heart of Harlem and served as a faculty member at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York for almost 15 years. At these institutions, as well as at innumerable workshops and festivals, Olatunji demonstrated his strong commitment to spreading knowledge of African culture through the teaching of traditional drumming, dancing, and chanting in classes for adults and young people.
Olatunji received a Grammy Award in 1991 for his collaboration with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart on their Planet Drum album. In addition, his composition "Jingo Lo Ba" has become a signature song for the rock group Santana. Olatunji has also written scores for Broadway and Hollywood productions, including the music for She's Gotta Have It, a film by Spike Lee.
In 1997, his album Love Drum Talk was released on Chesky Records. It would go on to be nominated for the 1998 Grammy for Best World Music Album.