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. His music is satirical.
He poked fun and burst bubbles. He gave ordinary Nigerians a chance to laugh and sing about the corruption the lived among.
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 2020
Fela Kuti single, Brexit Brexit