With the Support of...
Lagos State Government
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The year 1997 saw the birth of what has become an annual commemoration of an icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
The one day celebration evolved into a week of festivity of not just music but dance, talks and art. It has become a major force to be reckoned with in affirmation of the historical, cultural, and educational heritage of the motherland Africa.
5 years later the festival has grown to attract the interest of Lagos State Government into partnering and endorsing the festival as part of Lagos State Event Calendar.
(born October 15, 1938 – August 2, 1997) as a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick. Kuti was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria into a middle-class family. His mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement and his father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, a Protestant minister and school principal, was the first president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers.
Kuti was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine but decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music. While there he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a fusion of jazz and highlife. In 1963, Kuti moved back to Nigeria, re-formed Koola Lobitos and trained as a radio producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation.
In 1967 he went to Ghana and developed a new musical direction. What resulted was what a musical style Kuti called Afrobeat. Afrobeat is a complex fusion of Jazz, Funk, Ghanaian/Nigerian High-life, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms. Afrobeat also borrows heavily from the native "tinker pan" African-style percussion that Kuti acquired while studying in Ghana with Hugh Masekela, under the uncanny Hedzoleh Soundz. The importance of the input of Tony Allen (Kuti's drummer of twenty years) in the creation of Afrobeat cannot be overstated.
Some elements often present in Kuti's music are the call-and-response within the chorus and figurative but simple lyrics. Kuti's songs were also very long, at least 10–15 minutes in length, and many reaching the 20 or even 30 minutes, while some unreleased tracks would last up to 45 minutes when performed live. Kuti was known for his showmanship, and his concerts were often quite outlandish and wild. He referred to his stage act as the Underground Spiritual Game.
In 1969, Kuti took the band to the United States. Soon, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was tipped off by a promoter that Kuti and his band were in the U.S. without work permits. The band then performed a quick recording session in Los Angeles that would later be released as “The '69 Los Angeles Sessions.”
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