Free Tickets to Great Shows! Ise Lyfe; Omar Sosa; Average White Band; Tank; David Grisman Quintet; Leela James; Rachelle Ferrell; Hot 8 Brass Band; Fela!, Produced by Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith; Amiri Baraka, Roscoe Mitchell and Ishmael Reed

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    Dr. Kenya Numan and her organization “Stepping Together as well as Abdul-Jalil al-Hakim and the Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation were recently honored in Miami, Florida and Port Au Prince, Haiti last month for the Relief Missions that they have sent to Haiti since the earthquake.
Abdul-Jalil and crew are currently up for an EMMY with “OUT. The Glenn Burke Story”, and have already won several honors for it and expect more.
Special “Thanks” to all that have supported our efforts over the years! FREE tickets to:
Ise Lyfe, Thurs., 11/3 @8 pm,
Yoshi’s- Oakland, 510 Embarcadero W, Oakland Ca 94607;
Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet, Fri. and Sat., November 4-5, 2011, 10:00 pm, Yoshi’s- Oakland, 510 Embarcadero W, Oakland Ca 94607;
Leela James,
Sat & Sun., 10/28-29 @10 pm, Yoshi’s- San Francisco,1330 Fillmore Street, San Francisco;
Average White Band (AWB) Wen., 11/9 @10 pm, Yoshi’s- Oakland, 510 Embarcadero W, Oakland Ca 94607;
David Grisman Quintet, Sat., 11/12 @10 pm,
Yoshi’s- Oakland, 510 Embarcadero W, Oakland Ca 94607;
David Grisman / Frank Vignola
Duo, Sun, 11/13 @6 pm Yoshi’s- Oakland, 510 Embarcadero W, Oakland Ca 94607;
Rachelle Ferrell, Sun. 11/6 @7pm, The Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA, 94102;
Hot 8 Brass Band, Mon. 11/7 @8 pm, ,Yoshi’s- San Francisco,1330 Fillmore Street, San Francisco;
Amiri Baraka, Roscoe Mitchell
, Genny Lim and Ishmael Reed Band, Mon. 11/14, @8 pm, ,Yoshi’s- San Francisco,1330 Fillmore Street, San Francisco;
Tank, Fri. 11/18 @10 pm, Yoshi’s-
San Francisco,1330 Fillmore Street, San Francisco;
The Velveteen Rabbit, Choreographed and directed by KT Nelson, Sat., 11/26 @2 p.m., Novellus Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street (at 3rd Street), San Francisco, CA
Fela!, Produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, 11/15 – 12/11 @8pm, Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102 The tickets will be awarded via our Text, Twitter or website, so DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL, and if you haven’t already, you should join us on:
Text “I Want Tickets to (show)” with your name and email address to: (510) 394-4501; Twitter at: http://twitter.com/xzwhy , http://twitter.com/ajalil , http://twitter.com/nowtruth , http://twitter.com/amwft
http://twitter.com/win2012elect , or go to the websites at: http://Superstarmanagement.com , http://Ex-Why.com/  , http://AMWFTRUST.Org/  or http://NowTruth.Org/  and make your request on the “I WANT TICKETS” page.

*****

Ise Lyfe

0unknownname

Yoshi’s Oakland

510 Embarcadero W
Oakland Ca 94607

Hometown spoken word and hip-hop artist One night only – Live Band

“Yes No Maybe” by: Ise Lyfe
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9WJgKe6jGk?wmode=transparent]
One of the nation’s greatest young performers and writers performing live at the legendary Yoshi’s Jazz Club. Paying homage and adding his twist to the classic and powerful music of Fela Kuti, Nina Simone, Gil Scott Heron, Tupac Shakur, and Billie Holiday.
“Essentially, these five artist best represent the core of my artistic inspiration and embody a standard of both content and    skill that I am always aspiring for. I’m excited to be performing back in myhometown at such a great venue to honor these giants.”
Ise Lyfe
Recently appointed Commissioner of Arts and Cultural Affairs in his hometown of Oakland, CA, Ise Lyfe is one of the nation’s premier Spoken Word Artist and Emcee’s. His 2006 debut album, ”spreadtheWord” allowed him to mettle with a national audience, and the release of his second LP, “Prince Cometh” received rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Unaffected by the sophomore jinx theory, it’s safe to say the response across the board was nearly 100% positive…
Ise first gained national recognition competing in national poetry slam competitions in his late teens. In 2001 he won the National Poetry Slam Competition, skyrocketing his popularity amongst the ever growing Spoken Word/Hip-Hop Theatre audience.  He has been featured on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on HBO. He has also shared the stage with Gil Scott-Heron, Dave Chappelle, Lauryn Hill, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, E-40, Harry Belafonte, Mos Def, Malcolm Jamaal Werner, KRS-One, Martin Luther, Saul Williams, Ben Harper, Erykah Badu, Zion I, and The Coup to name a few.
However, Ise Lyfe is simply different than anyone else in his genre or league of peers. Period.
Just in his twenties with nearly ten years of national and international stage performing and recording experience, he transcends the common narrative on and off stage. An award winning poet, emcee, performer, and educator, this young man is sure to be the impact we all speak of wanting, but rarely see realized….

********

Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet

1unknownname

Yoshi’s Oakland

Yoshi’s Oakland
510 Embarcadero W
Oakland Ca 94607

, 2011
10:00 pm

Omar Sosa Quartet

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJsu3pCVkVc?wmode=transparent]
Five-time GRAMMY-nominated composer and pianist Omar Sosa returns to Yoshi’s Oakland with his regular rhythm section of Childo Tomas from Mozambique on electric bass, and Marque Gilmore, now from Stockholm, on drums and electronics, plus special guest saxophone and flute player from Cuba, Leandro Saint-Hill.  Leandro was part of the groundbreaking recording sessions at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City in 2008 that resulted in two GRAMMY nominations for Omar’s genre-bending CD release, Across The Divide.
At Yoshi’s Oakland, Omar will be featuring new material from his current recording-in-progress, entitled Afri-Lectric.  This CD project is loosely inspired by the music of Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue recording, and evolved from a commission Omar received from the Barcelona Jazz Festival to prepare a tribute to the famous CD on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

*********

Leela James

Soulful Female Vocalist

Oct 28-Oct 29, 2011

Friday: 9pm

Saturday: 10pm

YOSHI’S SAN FRANCISCO
1330 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

Since her childhood in L.A.’s eclectic urban culture, singer Leela James has woven the soul tradition into and around every corner of her creative identity. Deep within her rich and powerful voice are the echoes of Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, Gladys Knight and other iconic divas of generations past.

And yet, James’ brand of soul is very much her own – a music inspired by past masters but galvanized by her own life experience and highly focused artistic vision. She brings it all home to the place where modern soul was born, Stax Records (a division of Concord Music Group) with the release of her new album, My Soul, on June 1, 2010.

“I called this album My Soul because the music is a more accurate reflection of who I am than anything else I’ve ever recorded,” says James. “I did more of the writing, and I was involved with more of the creative process in general. When you listen to the individual tracks, one song may not necessarily sound like the other, but each is soulful in its own way, because each one comes from my soul. I’m the thread that connects all the songs.” Following on the heels of an album of covers released in 2009, My Soul is a current portrait of an artist who has matured over the past decade, found her own voice and made her own way. “After my first two records, I knew I had to find a way to have more control over what was happening with my career,” says James. “When I was younger, I was just excited to be making records, and I wasn’t aware of some of the fine print that’s a part of this business. I had to learn how to take charge of where my music was going, and how to get there.”

She made her recording debut with A Change Is Gonna Come, released on the Warner label in 2005. The album title alone – taken from the title of a 1964 posthumous hit by Sam Cooke and an anthem for the civil rights movement – speaks to James’ deep-rooted belief in the soul tradition and its ever-present potential to influence history. In the midst of a change in management and label over the next four years, James kept busy with an aggressive tour schedule that introduced her to festival audiences in the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa and elsewhere around the world. Along the way, she was nominated for 2006’s Outstanding New Artist by the NAACP Image Awards and Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist of 2008 by the Soul Train Music Awards.

In 2009, she recorded Let’s Do It Again for the Shanachie label. The album was a series of covers – mostly soul, R&B and funk tunes by the likes of Bootsy Collins, The Staples Singers, Al Green, James Brown and Bobby Womack. Also in the mix were songs originally recorded by lesser known artists like Betty Wright and Phyllis Hyman. Let’s Do It Again prompted readers of soultracks.com – the respected website for all things soul, R&B and gospel – to tap James as Female Vocalist of the Year in the site’s 2009 Readers Choice Poll in December 2009.

The first single off the album, “Tell Me You Love Me,” is a track that James co-wrote with Andrea Martin and Gordon Williams. Gerrard Baker loops in a sample of James riffing on a line from “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” the classic ballad made popular among soul audiences by the Manhattans in 1978. “The title says it all,” says James. “A lot times, people – especially men – let their egos and their pride stop them from really expressing their feelings. Even when a woman knows her man loves her, she still needs to hear him say it.” Other high points include the defiant opening track “Ain’t New To This,” wherein James stakes her claim as an artist to be reckoned with, balanced by the more light-hearted “Party All Night” and “Let It Roll.” The latter, says James, was inspired by the optimistic sound from the heyday of Motown in the 1960s: “The message in this song is ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff.’ You have to just keep your head when you’re faced with difficult situations and difficult people, no matter how bad the energy might get.”

Clearly, Leela James’s musical soul embraces an infinite range of emotions and human struggles. As an artist and as a person, making tough choices and doing the right thing – even if it’s the hard thing – is what she’s been all about for more than a decade. In the process, she has never lost sight of the core values of the soul tradition – passion, perseverance and a strong sense of identity. All of these and more are at the foundation of My Soul.

“In the past, people tried to put me in a box, based on what they thought soul should sound like,” she says. “But soul is whatever comes out of you when you bring your deepest and most honest emotions to the forefront. All these songs are a representation of my soul.”

Tell Me You Love Me | Leela James

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnYZDapj1tQ

*****


RACHELLE FERRELL

Up Close and Personal!

The Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko

• 222 Mason Street • San Francisco, CA  94102

Sunday, November 6, 2011  • 7pm

“a stylized but often uncategorizable jazz/ R&B singer-songwriter” – yahoo.com
http://www.RachelleFerrell.com

  • As a singer, RACHELLE FERRELL is a quintuple threat: Besides having success as a jazz singer, she is also well respected in the R&B, pop, gospel, and classical music genres as well. Known for her six octave range, Ferrell is also an accomplished pianist who has worked with Lou Rawls, Patti LaBelle, Vanessa Williams, and George Duke.

Rachelle Ferrell – “I Can Explain” live au théâtre antique de Vienne le 12 juillet 2001.

Rachelle Ferrell – ‘Til You Come Back To Me

*****

HOT 8 BRASS BAND

November 7, 2011
8 PM

Yoshi’s San Francisco
1330 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

New Orleans’ own Hot 8 Brass Band has epitomized New Orleans street music for over a decade!

“…the sound was as hot as the day…” – All About Jazz

“…defiant swing…” – The New Yorker

Hot 8 Brass Band feat. Mos Def performing ‘Big Chief’

The band plays the traditional Second Line parades, hosted each Sunday afternoon by Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, infusing their performances with the funk and energy that makes New Orleans music loved around the world.  The members of the Hot 8 Brass Band were born and raised in New Orleans and many began playing together in high school. What makes the Hot 8 so special are the sounds they coax from their well-loved, well-worn horns. An evening with the Hot 8 is like no other…

Members of the Hot 8 Brass Band have toured in Japan, Italy, France, Spain, Finland, England and Sardinia. The band performs annually at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, world and jazz festivals across the US and Europe, and were featured in both Spike Lee documentaries When the Levees Broke and If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise.  The Hot 8 has released three critically acclaimed recordings and is featured on the latest Blind Boys of Alabama recording on Time-Life Records.

The Hot 8 Brass Band has been part of an important relief project following Hurricane Katrina SAVE OUR BRASS! is a local grass-roots project that has brought music and instruments to shelters, temporary trailer parks, and communities across the Gulf Coast.

*****

Average White Band

iconic funk & soul band

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
10:00 pm

Yoshi’s Oakland

510 Embarcadero W
Oakland Ca 94607

Average White Band – Pick Up The Pieces

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfAJLGFWxYo

AWB are widely regarded as one of the best soul and funk bands in the history of music. Though perhaps best known for their timeless instrumental mega-hit ‘Pick Up the Pieces’  the band’s strength actually lay in their consistently accomplished song-  writing, stretching across several gold selling albums and multi- grammy  nominations for the legendary Atlantic Records. Somewhat incongruously, given their Scottish roots, the six piece took the influences of their R&B heroes – people like Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Donny Hathaway and others – and developed their own ‘authentic’ sound which was eagerly adopted by black audiences in the US and elsewhere. Whilst a good number of cuts – ‘Cut The Cake’ and ‘Let’s Go Round Again’ to name but two – attracted chart action as hit singles, many other album tracks, like ‘Schoolboy Crush’ and ‘Stop The Rain’  became much sampled and turn tabled ‘rare’ grooves. Many more tunes, such as ‘Cloudy’, ‘A Love Of Your Own’ and ‘Nothing You Can Do’ – amongst many others- stand alongside some of the finest soul ‘album tracks’ ever recorded.

The current line-up of the band with noted US recruits Klyde Jones and Rocky Bryant augmenting founder members Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre continues to record and tour around the world to ongoing critical and audience acclaim.

As one reviewer in England last month wrote, “their storming set cemented the fact that veterans or not, AWB remain the unchallenged kings of UK Funk.”

All this and more is perfectly illustrated in the band’s latest release ‘Times Squared’ which showcases the breadth and depth of the Band’s material, all captured within the excitement of a 2009 live performance’

*****

David Grisman Quintet

Saturday, November 12, 2011

10:00 pm

Sunday, November 13, 2011

6:00 pm

Yoshi’s Oakland

510 Embarcadero W
Oakland Ca 94607

David Grisman Quintet “Acousticity”

http://vimeo.com/5682411

Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival 2008 – David Grisman Quintet “Acousticity” By WPPTV from WPPTV on Vimeo.

David Grisman: mandolin
Matt Eakle: flute
Frank Vignola: guitar
Jim Kerwin: bass
George Marsh: drums/percussion

For nearly half a century, mandolinist / composer / bandleader / producer David Grisman has been a guiding force in the evolving world of acoustic music. His musical range is wide and deep — embracing many styles, genres and traditions.

An acoustic pioneer and innovator, David forged a unique personal artistic path, skillfully combining elements of the great American music/art forms — jazz and bluegrass with many international flavors and sensibilities to create his own distinctive idiom — “Dawg” music (the nickname given him by Jerry Garcia.)  In doing so, he’s inspired new generations of acoustic string musicians, while creating his own niche in contemporary music.

Grisman discovered the mandolin as a teenager growing up in New Jersey, where he met and became a disciple of mandolinist/folklorist Ralph Rinzler. Despite warnings from his piano teacher that it wasn’t a “real” instrument, David learned to play the mandolin in the style of Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music.  He took it to Greenwich Village where he studied English at NYU, while immersed in the proliferating folk music scene of the early 1960s.

In 1963 Grisman made his first recordings both as an artist (Even Dozen Jug Band – Elektra) and producer (Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and the Kentuckians – Folkways.)  In 1966 Red Allen offered David his first job with an authentic bluegrass band, the Kentuckians. Grisman began composing original tunes and playing with other urban bluegrass contemporaries like Peter Rowan and Jerry Garcia, with whom he would later form Old & in the Way.

David’s interests spread to jazz in 1967, while playing in a folk-rock group, Earth Opera. A failed attempt at learning to play alto sax turned him into a student of jazz musicianship and theory. His burgeoning career as a session musician gave him experience playing many types of music and opportunities to stretch the boundaries of the mandolin. His discography is filled with notables including Jerry Garcia, Stephane Grappelli, the Grateful Dead, John Hartford, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Earl Scruggs, James Taylor and Doc Watson.

Dawg’s instrumental style found a home in 1974 when he formed the Great American Music Band with fiddler Richard Greene. “Nothing against singers,” said David, “but it became apparent to me that I could play 90 minutes without one. Besides, Elvis never called.” Within a year, David met guitar wizard Tony Rice, who moved to California where they started rehearsing a new group, the David Grisman Quintet (DGQ,)which also included violinist Darol Anger and bassist/mandolinist Todd Phillips. Since then the DGQ has featured such stellar notables as Svend Asmussen, Hal Blaine, Vassar Clements, Stephane Grappelli, Mike Marshall, Andy Statman and Frank Vignola.

The current lineup of the DAVID GRISMAN QUINTET  includes bassist Jim Kerwin, flutist Matt Eakle, percussionist George Marsh, and guitarist Frank Vignola.

After recording for major and independent labels, David founded Acoustic Disc in 1990 and entered the most prolific period of his career, producing 67 critically acclaimed CDs (five of which were Grammy-nominated.) In 2010 he launched <http://AcousticOasis.com/>AcousticOasis.com, the first download website devoted to acoustic music.

David Grisman has always been a revolutionary. He has deeply influenced contemporary acoustic practicioners through his own musical explorations and with the continuing success of Acoustic Disc and Acoustic Oasis, has helped make artist-owned independent labels a viable force in today’s music business.

*****

Amiri Baraka and Ishmael Reed plus Roscoe Mitchell

November 14, 2011
8 PM

Yoshi’s San Francisco
1330 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

A Fundraiser for Before Columbus Foundation
Poet. Playwright. Activist.
Featuring performances by Al Young, Genny Lim, Lorna Dee Cervantes and Danny Romero.

Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka, born in 1934, in Newark, New Jersey, USA, is the author of over 40 books of essays, poems, drama, and music history and criticism, a poet icon and revolutionary political activist who has recited poetry and lectured on cultural and political issues extensively in the USA, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe.

With influences on his work ranging from musical orishas such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and Sun Ra to the Cuban Revolution, Malcolm X and world revolutionary movements, Baraka is renowned as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s that became, though short-lived, the virtual blueprint for a new American theater aesthetics. The movement and his published and performance work, such as the signature study on African-American music, Blues People (1963) and the play Dutchman (1963) practically seeded “the cultural corollary to black nationalism” of that revolutionary American milieu.

Other titles range from Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1979), to The Music (1987), a fascinating collection of poems and monographs on Jazz and Blues authored by Baraka and his wife and poet Amina, and his boldly sortied essays, The Essence of Reparations (2003).

He has been the subject of numerous documentary films including Mario Van Peeble’s Poetic License for The Sundance Channel and St. Clair Bourne’s In Motion: Amiri Baraka. He has also appeared in dozens of films including, most recently, M.K. Asante, Jr’s award-winning documentary The Black Candle.

The Essence of Reparations is Baraka’s first published collection of essays in book form radically exploring what is sure to become a twenty-first century watershed movement of Black peoples to the interrelated issues of racism, national oppression, colonialism, neo-colonialism, self-determination and national and human liberation, which he has long been addressing creatively and critically. It has been said that Amiri Baraka is committed to social justice like no other American writer. He has taught at Yale, Columbia, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems is Baraka’s first collection of poems published in the Caribbean and includes the title poem that has headlined him in the media in ways rare to poets and authors. The recital of the poem “that mattered” engaged the poet warrior in a battle royal with the very governor of New Jersey and with a legion of detractors demanding his resignation as the state’s Poet Laureate because of Somebody Blew Up America’s provocatively poetic inquiry (in a few lines of the poem) about who knew beforehand about the New York City World Trade Center bombings in 2001. The poem’s own detonation caused the author’s photo and words to be splashed across the pages of New York’s Amsterdam News and the New York Times and to be featured on CNN–to name a few US city, state and national and international media.

Ishmael Reed
Ishmael Reed is one of the most original and controversial figures in the field of African American letters. Reed was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on 22 February 1938, but he grew up in Buffalo, New York. After graduating from high school in 1956, he enrolled as a night student at Millard Fillmore College but transferred to the University of Buffalo as a day student with the assistance of an English teacher who was impressed with a story Reed had written. For financial reasons, however, Reed eventually withdrew without taking a degree. He remained in Buffalo for some time, working as a correspondent for the Empire Star Weekly, a black community newspaper, and serving as cohost of a local radio program that was canceled after Reed conducted an interview with Malcolm X.

Moving to New York City in 1962, Reed served as editor of a Newark, New Jersey, weekly and helped establish the legendary East Village Other, one of the first and best-known of the so-called underground newspapers. Reed also was a member of the Umbra Writers Workshop, one of the organizations instrumental in the creation of the Black Arts movement and its efforts to establish a Black Aesthetic.

Reed’s first novel, The Freelance Pallbearers, was published in 1967. That same year he moved to Berkeley, California, later relocating to the adjacent city of Oakland, where he currently resides with his wife, Carla Blank, a dancer and choreographer. They have a daughter, Tennessee. Reed also has a daughter, Timothy Brett, from a previous marriage.

Reed has taught at the University of California at Berkeley since the late 1960s, even though he was denied tenure in 1977 (a circumstance he wrote about in his first collection of essays, Shrovetide in Old New Orleans (1978). He also has held visiting appointments at many other academic institutions, including Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Washington University in St. Louis, and SUNY Buffalo. In addition to winning several awards for his writing, Reed has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and was twice a finalist for the National Book Award (once in poetry and once in fiction).

Roscoe Mitchell
Through his participation in the establishment of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and as a founding member of the world-renowned Art Ensemble of Chicago, Roscoe Mitchell, composer and multi-instrumentalist was a major contributor to the creation of the body of musical literature that ushered in the post-Coltrane period. Mr. Mitchell has received numerous awards and grants including the National Endowment for the Arts, Wisconsin Arts Board, Vilas Foundation, University of Wisconsin-Madison and a research grant from Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique Musique (IRCAM) in Paris, France. He founded the Creative Arts Collective (CAC) of East Lansing, Michigan and he is the founder/leader of the Sound Ensemble and a co-founder of the trio Space.

Roscoe Mitchell’s innovations as a solo performer, his role in the resurrection of long-neglected woodwind instruments of extreme register, and his reassertion of the composer into what has traditionally been an improvisational form, have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music for over twenty years.

*****

Event Tickets

Fela

November 15, 2011 -December 11, 2011
8:00PM

Curran Theatre
445 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102

Fela! is presented by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, the first time they’ve produced a Broadway show. Fela! was created by Bill T. Jones. Jones choreographed, wrote the play book for, and directed Fela!Jones created his own dance company, has won a MacArthur Genius Award, a Harlem Renaissance Award, an Obie, and a Tony, among many other honors.

Fela! documents the incredible true story of Fela Kuti, a musician from Nigeria who pioneered Afro beat music, and who fought for civil rights and against political corruption in his native country.

Fela was initially going to be a doctor, but decided to be a musician instead, fusing many different styles and the sounds of his native country into what eventually became known as his own distinct and complex style of music, Afrobeat.

The Political Struggles of Fela

Fela first started calling his music Afrobeat in the late sixties, and as his career progressed, his music got more political, much to the chagrin of the Nigerian government, who attacked the commune where Fela lived, destroying his studio, and beating him badly (Fela’s mother was killed during the attack).

But this didn’t quiet Fela or his music, which continued to infuriate the government. Fela also tried to run for President in Nigeria’s first elections in over ten years. When Fela died in 1997, over a million people came to the funeral chanting “Fela will live forever,” and a shrine was built in his honor.

It has been said that hip-hop would not exist without Fela’s music, and he was also described as a combination of James Brown, Muhammad Ali, and Bob Dylan. Eventually Fela’s music was re-released, and several musical shows showcasing his story and life hit the stage (recently a movie from Focus Features about the life of Fela was made for release in 2010).

Fela! was first performed off-Broadway in 2008, and it was a huge success, hitting Broadway the following year, with the help of Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jay-Z, and several other producers. The music of Fela has also been provided by Antibalas, a modern nine-piece afrobeat band. Fela! of course also features the incredible legacy of music he left behind, and his musical and political legacy still live on strong.

The Triumph of Fela

The musical Fela! is an incredible explosion of music, color and culture. The website www.felaonbroadway.com notes, “Please be advised that Fela! has loud sound effects, smoke and haze effects and strobe effects. “The Broadway experience can be like sitting with blinders on,” the creator of Fela! told Billboard. “This is a show you enjoy as much with your body as with your mind. It’s free and communal.”

Fela! is presented by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, the first time they’ve produced a Broadway show. Fela! was created by Bill T. Jones. Jones choreographed, wrote the play book for, and directed Fela!Jones created his own dance company, has won a MacArthur Genius Award, a Harlem Renaissance Award, an Obie, and a Tony, among many other honors.

Fela! has been nominated for 11 Tony Awards, and has won three: Best Choreography, Best Costume Design for a Musical, and Best Sound Design for a Musical.

*****

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