Trawl for the best protest songs of all time and chances are you’ll not find one Fela Kuti song. A search for the best political musicians of all time returns a long list of musicians not fit to brush Fela’s fur coat.
…you'll find a long list of people not fit to brush Fela’s fur coat.
I’ve been obsessed with Fela Kuti since I first saw him on The Tube back in the 1980s when I was about 14 - wearing a fur coat and probably nothing else but speedos (him - not me). Having no money - it was straight to the library the following Monday to look for some Fela music. They had one tape - Fela live with Ginger Baker (Black Man’s Cry NEVER fails)… and so began a life long obsession.
I used to play Fela Kuti LPs before we went on stage back in the 90s. I remember putting on Coffin for Head of State. A bunch of people got up and started dancing. A girl came over and asked what he was singing about. I said “he’s singing about his mother getting thrown out of her bedroom window by the army and subsequently dying” - “You’re joking - right?”.
That’s the power in his music. It uplifts, it empowers, it inspires. It never preaches.
At it’s very core the music is satirical. He poked fun and burst bubbles. He gave ordinary Nigerians a chance to laugh and sing about the corruption the lived amongst.
Poking fun and bursting bubbles in a democracy is easy.
Poking fun and bursting bubbles in a military dictatorship is about as ballsy as it gets.
We need an Ulster Afrobeat Orchestra right now - to poke fun and burst bubbles.
The list of song titles and source material is endless.
Auditions begin in Spring 2019
Fela Kuti single, Brexit Brexit