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Helen Umebuani Nee Nkume was born in 1943 at Nbiabike Amekpu Ohafia. Though her father was a prominent member of the community, her family moved to the bigger city of Umuahia, capital city of Abia State, while she was still young. She received her education there and while in secondary school she met her future husband, Umebuani Onwuzulike. Their marriage was blessed with three wonderful children.
Helen started her musical career in the early 70s, forming a group known as the Young Timers. They recorded their first couple of Highlife albums for Tabansi, both of which became hits in the east side of the country. By the late 70s she self-produced and released her two best albums: “Young Timers Band” and “Vol.IV”, which were pressed in very limited editions and distributed mainly in the area where the group was active, Umuahia and its surroundings.
The music on those albums have a certain progression to them. The “Young Timers Band” LP is mostly still steeped in the highlife mood that distinguishes her earlier work but one track, “Umo Imo Special”, stands out from the rest. It’s a fusion between highlife, jazz and afrobeat and totally dance-floor friendly – what we would call “Countryside Afrobeat”.
“Vol.IV” has a more defined Afro Funk sound but the tracks “Music” and “Onye Ije” are clearly among the most loved of that Countryside Afrobeat genere. (We’d like to note here that on this last track we decided to maintain its original sound as much as possible. In fact, the production is somehow quite lo-fi, with the music relatively low and in back compared to the up front vocals, a style that we believe was intended by the group.)



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