The life and music of the mega-talented Nigerian song writer and freedom fighter Fela Kuti land in New York City Off-Broadway.
The musical style performed by Fela Kuti is called Afrobeat, which is essentially a fusion of jazz, funk and Traditional African Chant. It is characterized by having African style percussion, vocals, and musical structure, along with jazzy, funky horn sections. The “endless groove” is also used, in which a base rhythm of drums, muted guitar, and bass guitar are repeated throughout the song. This is a common technique in African and African-influenced musical styles, and can be seen in funk and hip-hop. Some elements often present in Fela’s music are the call-and-response with the chorus and figurative but simple lyrics. Fela’s songs were almost always over ten minutes in length, some reaching the twenty or even thirty minute marks. This was one of many reasons that his music never reached a substantial degree of popularity outside of Africa. His songs were mostly sung in Nigerian pidgin, although he also performed a few songs in the Yoruba language. Fela’s main instruments were the saxophone and the keyboards but he also played the trumpet, guitar and made the occasional drum solo. Fela refused to perform songs again after he had already recorded them, which also hindered his popularity outside Africa. Fela was known for his showmanship, and his concerts were often quite outlandish and wild. He referred to his stage act as his “underground spiritual game”.