I first discovered Fela Kuti’s music when I started taking guitar lessons five years ago. My instructor was a seasoned traveler and he played different types of music during our time together. He was especially fond of African musical styles because he admired the musician’s use of rhythm and storytelling.
My teacher’s favorite artist was Fela Kuti and he was on a crusade to share the Kuit’s music with anyone who would listen. I quickly became a convert.
As I learned more about Kuti, I realized that he was much more than a musician, he was also a powerful political force in his homeland of Nigeria. Fela’s influence spanned the globe as his soaring music and unstoppable spirit uplifted audiences in the Americas, Europe and, most importantly, throughout Africa. His defiantly vocal opposition to the military regimes destroying his people made him the voice of the oppressed masses—and a target of brutal government retaliation.
“He has no fear to get thrown in jail every time a single comes out” – Questlove from The Roots
Kuti’s complexity is captured in acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney’s brilliant film, Finding Fela. Set to the insistent groove of Kuti’s revolutionary Afrobeat sound, Finding Fela gives testament to the transformative power of music as a force for social and political change.