Crowned the king of Afrobeat and dubbed the Black President, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was a master performer, composer and voice of the oppressed.
The Nigerian musician and activist invented an infectious new musical genre called Afrobeat, combining American funk and jazz with traditional Yoruba and highlife music to end up with a sound that doubled as a weapon for justice.
Troubled by the state of Nigerian society, he assembled and built his Kalakuta Republic and created his own political party, actions which saw him arrested, imprisoned and beaten by the police and military–but Fela was so influential in Nigerian cultural and political life that even they flocked to his funeral to pay respect to their fallen hero.
This book features a diverse range of artists who continue to be inspired by Fela’s artistic genius and dedication to justice and equality: from visual practitioners like Sanford Biggers, Barkley L. Hendricks, Alfredo Jaar, Wangechi Mutu, Odili Odita, Olu Oguibe, Senam Okudzeto, Yinka Shonibare, Kara Walker and Fred Wilson to musicians, rappers and DJs. Accompanying essays consider Fela’s influence on his musical contemporaries and on an international array of visual artists, Fela as African Blaxploitation hero, and Fela’s music in the context of the Nigerian political situation and contemporary activist art.
Also included are an updated version of a seminal 1980s article on Fela, a fiction-driven story that reconstructs the last six months of Fela’s life, and a poem that deals with Fela’s influence on the poet’s conception of Africa. Edited by Trevor Schoonmaker. Essays by Trevor Schoonmaker, Yomi Durotoye, Vivien Goldman, Olu Oguibe, Moyo Okediji and Michael E. Veal. ~Creative writing by Biyi Bandele and Sharon Strange. Paperback, 10.5 x 10.5 in./192 pgs / 64 color 40 BW0 duotone 0 ~ Item D20046.
From the Author
This book is the catalogue for the exhibition curated by Trevor Schoonmaker at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. The exhibition was on view there from July 11 – Deptember 28, 2003, before traveling to museums in London, San Francisco and Cincinnati.
This book is one of two publications edited by Schoonmaker as part of the Fela Project. The other is FELA: From West Africa to West Broadway (2003). felaproject.net/felaone.html
About the Author
Trevor Schoonmaker is the Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. He is the editor of Nasher Museum of Art exhibition catalogues The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool, and Street Level: Mark Bradford, William Cordova and Robin Rhode.
He is also the editor of Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, D Troit: The Art, Music, and Culture of the Motor City, and Fela: From West Africa to West Broadway. In 2001 he co-founded Jump n Funk with Rich Medina, New York’s first Fela-inspired club night. He was the director of the Fela Project, a multimedia project on the influence of Fela Kuti.
One of the characteristics of great men is that they deeply change the course of history. To say the least, Fela, the man and his music are an embodiment of dynamism which has affected people massively. Even in death, his music still causes a stir and; although he stood for justice, he really has a great story to tell. – zerezoya
I love it so much. It’s a very wonderful book. It’s so close to my heart. If you’re a huge Fela Kuti fan, this is a must-have. Highly recommended to all. – Ijeoma Uba
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