New book on Fela Anikulapo-Kuti released

Fela AnikulapoIt’s a 160 -page large print, coffee-table format book with black and white photos by John Collins, and glossy colour ones by the professional photographers Thierry Secretan/Cosmos, Jack Mushin Kilby and  Rico D’Rozario. A comprehensive discography is supplied by Ronnie Graham.

The book is based on the experiences of the British/Ghanaian musician and musicologist John Collins who met and worked  with Fela in Ghana and Nigeria on many occasions in the 1970’s. It includes a diary that Collins kept in 1977  when he acted in Fela’s auto-biographical film the Black President.

It also includes   interviews by Collins with Fela as well as some of the musicians who belonged to his bands  and  Fela’s many friends and colleagues who were connected with  his  Afrika  Shrine and Kalakuta (‘Rascals’) Republic.

Fela, died in  1997 aged fifty-eight, but did two remarkable and unique things in his life.  First of all, he was the main force behind Afro-beat, a major genre of African popular music which is adored by fans throughout Africa, has influenced numerous African musicians and is now going international.

Secondly, and with his unsurpassed militancy, he took African music into the arena of direct political action, a fighting spirit reflected in his own contrary life-style and his catalogue of anti-establishment songs dedicated to Pan-Africanism and the down-trodden Nigerian masses or ‘sufferheads’.

His songs he went much further than protest singers such as Bob Dylan, James Brown or Bob Marley.  Whereas their confrontations with established authority were couched in generalised terms of ‘the times they are a-changing’, ‘say it loud I’m black and proud’ and the evils of ‘Babylon’.

Fela’s songs  not only protested against injustice, but often fiercely attacked specific agencies and members of the Nigerian government.  ‘Coffin for Head of State’ was directed against Nigeria’s then Army ruler (now retired civilian President), General Obasanjo. ‘International Thief Thief  (ITT)’ criticised the American multi-national company, International Telephones and Tele-Communications, ran in Nigeria by the late politician Chief Moshood Abiola.

‘Alagbon Close’ mocked the police CID headquarters in Lagos where Fela was imprisoned in 1974,  whilst ‘Zombie’, caricatured the Nigerian Army mentality. When the dust has settled over Fela’s fiery, creative, promiscuous and rascally life-style, his Afrobeat groove will live on.

Eros on the break

Each day seems to break with at least one person realising his potential and music appears to be a very common gifting these days. One of such kids on the music block is Chukwuka Chukwuemelie aka Eros.

Placing third in a family of nine siblings, Eros is born to a medical doctor dad and an educationist mum. He hails from Enugu state and brandishes an Accounting degree from Madonna university.

He started writing songs eight years ago and as soon as his lyrics tightened, he dropped his debut album titled Preamble last year. It boasts of tracks like Groove, Shake and On My Own among others. His self produced premiere also enjoyed production input from producer/singer J-Martins and Serghio.

With a role model like American pop star Nelly, one need be on the look out for Eros’ break.

Lagbaja goes bling bling

Just before you think the masked one has ditched his masked identity for blings or that he’s added blings to his costume or range of accessories, this isn’t so.

Afrocalypso singer and saxophonist Bisade Ologunde aka Lagbaja has broken his three year musical silence and released to the air waves two singles. Titled Bling bling and Sobolation, the singer appears back in contention for the title of most relevant singer in the Nigerian music industry.

The 39-year old singer, had gone into hiatus since his last album release which signed out Ego Iheanacho as his lead vocalist. Singer Ego started on a solo career path after a record-breaking vocal rendition of the Lagbaja’s popular hit song- ‘Never far away’.

While many perceived Ego as the wing beneath his wings, the multi-talented saxophonist may be out to prove critics and pundits wrong. Welcome aboard once again, Lagbaja.

By Vanguard