Thursday, October 14, 2004

Big Celebration - Fela Kuti Day - Liemert Park Village: SAT 16 Oct 2004

Los Angeles, California

A Celebration of the Life, Lyrics, and Legacy of Fela Kuti:
Live Music, Food, Arts Fair, and Mural Dedication

A Festival Honoring Africa's Celebrated Musician and Activist

Exit South off the 10 freeway at Crenshaw Blvd, Left at W. 43rd Street.

WHEN: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2004 from 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM

FELA KUTI DAY, a tribute to the late father of Afrobeat music and one of Africa's pre-eminent political activists, is coming again to LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE. This year's theme, "Power to the People," will honor the message of political empowerment FELA promoted in his music. Former Los Angeles Police Chief BERNARD PARKS will give the opening speech at the event. The day will feature performances by local artists paying tribute to both FELA and the spirit of Afrobeat's high-energy rhythms. Booths will also be set up throughout the village, offering African cuisine and arts and crafts to the public. The day will end with the dedication of a FELA KUTI MURAL to the VILLAGE, ensuring his legacy is known for generations to come.

Guests of note this year include ROCK THE VOTE, which will register voters and hand out information on the upcoming November elections. Also appearing is the HIP-HOP SUMMIT, presented by RUSSELL SIMMONS, performing on-stage to promote the causes of civil rights and the fight against poverty and injustice (Performance List to Be Announced).

DJ NNAMDI and RADIO AFRODICIA will be broadcasting live from the heart of LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE from 2:00 – 4:00 PM, playing classic FELA tracks and Afrobeat music. RADIO AFRODICIA airs on KPFK, 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, or on the Web at

........::::- ABOUT FELA -::::...........

Fela Anikulapo Kuti, born on October 15, 1938 in Abeokuta, Nigeria, was way ahead of his time in almost every way possible. Fela was a singer-composer, trumpet, sax and keyboard player, bandleader, politician, and marijuana rights activist. He was one of Africa's most controversial musicians and throughout his life he continued to fight for the rights of the common man and woman despite vilification, harassment, and even imprisonment by the government of Nigeria. Born to Yoruban parents, Kuti was strongly influenced by both parents, his mother being Funmilayo, a leading figure in the nationalist struggle. Practically all of his records are dominated by political events and discussions from the approach of Pan-Africanism.

In 1954, Kuti joined the Cool Cats as a singer in that highlife band (highlife being the rage of the Lagos music scene at the time). During this period Kuti developed his own unusual sound which he described as highlife-jazz. In 1968 Kuti announced the arrival of Afro-beat, within the year was promoting his sound all over the USA on a 10-month tour where he became influenced by American jazz. When he returned to his homeland he opened a nightclub, the Shrine, and changed the name of his band to Africa 70 (and later to Egypt 80). His bands traditionally included the typical huge line-up consisting of many singers and dancers, numerous saxophonists, trumpeteers, drummers, percussionists, and of course, many guitarists blending African rhythms and jazz horn lines with politicized song lyrics.

Fela's music was intricate, rather than calling it Afro-Beat as did Kuti, you might more arguably consider it Afro-jazz. Entire recordings often consisted of just a few long songs and this propensity for jamming set up a roadblock for Fela to attain commercial acceptance in the United States. He also abhored performing a song after recording it, and this led to audience disinterest in the U.S. where the people wanted their music to be recognizable hits. Again his musical vision was way ahead of his time as evidenced by the growing popularity of jam bands and their similiar propensity for jamming and not repeating songs played in concert.

Throughout most of his life Fela continued his outspoken attacks on the Nigerian government. When the people returned to power in 1979, Kuti began his own political party - MOP (Movement of the People). The military returned to power in 1983 and within the year Kuti was sentenced to five years in prison on a spurious currency smuggling charge. He was released in 1986 after yet another change of government. Were Fela alive today he, of course, would be treated with even worse disdain by the government now that Nigeria is quickly becoming predominately Muslim.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti died on Saturday, August 2, 1997, at 4pm (local time) in Lagos, Nigeria. It had been rumoured for some time that Fela had a serious illness he was refusing treatment for, many said he was suffering from prostate cancer. But as it turns out, Fela died from complications due to AIDS. As Fela's brother, Olikoye Ransome Kuti, said at a news conference:

"The immediate cause of death of Fela was heart failure, but there were many complications arising from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome".

Today Fela's impact can be seen, especially during the month of October, when many celebrations commemorating the date of his birth (October 15, 1938) take place around the world. Fela was a man of great influence in the African music world, he is irreplaceable and his presence is sorely misssed.

--courtesy of The African Music Encyclopedia


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Out of Town Until Monday

The African Beat travels to Las Vegas for a high school reunion this weekend.

Added Google Add Sense today

Having solely supported - since their inception in 1995 - both The African Music Encyclopedia - and the two entities that began as listserves and now exist as the largest online group devoted to the African music and Drum and Dance communities...

  1. The African Music Digest - has a global focus of what's the haps in African music and Drum & Dance, both traditional and contemporary. To join send a blank email to

  2. The African Beat Digest - focuses specifically on Southern California happenings in African music and Drum & Dance, both traditional and contemporary. To join send a blank email to

...I am finally making an effort to earn a little money from this long-term labor of love to pay for the sites, the Digests, and all the time and work, not to mention money, that goes into it all.

So I hope that if you support our work, you might support the targeted ads you'll see here from google. Click on one or two please.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The African Beat

Day 1 of the new AfricanBeat Blog

The African Beat is both a website at - and a high membership, yet low inbox-footprint listserve (The African Beat Digest) that's been around since 1995. The African Beat focuses on what's the haps in African Music and Drum & Dance all over Southern California, from San Louis Obispo in the north down through Santa Barbara & Los Angeles all the way to San Diego in the South and out east into the desert.

This blog is yet another effort to bing the various tentacles of the Southern California African music community together as one.