Paul McCartney Wept When He Saw This Musician Live
He fought a corrupt government and his only weapon was his music
As I sat down to write down this article, I was perplexed as to how I should start. Should I begin with a brief history of prolific musicians who shaped the musical landscape of their times? Should I speak of artists such as Bob Marley who had a positive global impact? Or should I speak about my own love and appreciation for music?
However, I’ve decided that the best way to introduce this article is with an introduction to the person whom this article is written about. A man who endured the death of his mother at the hands of his government. A man who invented an entirely new genre of music to get his message across to a vast audience of Africans. A man who waged war on the government of his time with music as his only weapon.
Who was this man? Fela Anikulapo Kuti or Fela for short.
If this is the first time you’ve heard this name, I hope that by the end of this article it becomes a name you will never forget.
In my opinion, Fela is the greatest musician of the 21st century. A bold statement, but a statement I utter with no fear nor reservation.
Who was Fela? That question can only be answered by reading his story.
Fela Kuti’s Story
Fela was born in Ogun State, Nigeria, the same birthplace as my father, in 1938. At a young age, he began playing the trumpet, and in 1958 he went to London to study medicine but decided to study classical music instead at the Trinity College of Music. While in London, he formed the band Koola Lobitos. They played a fusion of Highlife, a Ghanaian style of music, and Jazz.
His music at this time doesn’t compare at all to his later music. His style would change completely over the years.
In 1963, Fela returned to Nigeria. In 1967, he traveled to Ghana in search of a new musical direction. Around this time, James Brown was very active in America and had been experimenting with the combination of African rhythms and gospel music, giving birth to Funk. The drummer of Fela’s band, Tony Allen, introduced Fela to the music of James Brown. Fela began incorporating funk…