10.15.2014

Happy Birthday Fela Kuti!

Happy Birthday to Fela Kuti! Felabrations are taking place worldwide to celebrate Fela Kuti’s life and musical legacy. We’re offering 15% off the entire Fela Kuti catalog (excluding the box set) Use code: HAPPYBDAYFELA at checkout.

Felabrations are the annual celebrations that commemorate the life and music of the late Fela Anikulakpo Kuti. The original Felabrations date back to the early 1970’s when Fela and his band took over The Shrine in Lagos, Nigeria and performed until the sun came up. Felabrations take place all over the world to coincide with Fela Kuti’s birthday on October 15th.

This year saw the release of the third installment of their Fela Kuti Box Set Series. The box was curated by long-time admirer Brian Eno and his album selections span the ten years in which Fela’s afrobeat progressed from its formative stage to a rich maturation of the form. It begins with 1971’s Shakara and ends with 1980’s I.T.T.(International Thief Thief). It also includes London Scene (1972), Afrodisiac, Gentleman (both 1973) and Upside Down(1976). The penultimate selection is 1976’s Zombie, which was a huge hit in Nigeria. There are only 2,000 copies of this limited edition box set: The albums are pressed on 180 gram vinyl, come with a poster reproduction from a Fela Kuti & Africa 70 show in Brussels (unknown date), and a fourteen page booklet.

Says box set curator, Brian Eno, “Before about mid-September 1973 I didn’t have much interest in polyrhythmic music. I didn’t really get it. That all changed one autumn day when I walked into Stern’s Record Shop off Tottenham Court Road. For reasons I’ve long forgotten, I left the store with an album that was to change my life dramatically. It was Afrodisiac by Fela Ransome-Kuti (as he was then known) and his band The Africa 70. I remember the first time I listened and how dazzled I was by the groove and the rhythmic complexity, and by the raw, harsh sounds of the brass, like Mack trucks hurtling across highways with their horns blaring. Everything I thought I knew about music at that point was up in the air again. The sheer force and drive of this wild Nigerian stuff blew my mind. My friend Robert Wyatt called it ‘Jazz from another planet’ – and suddenly I thought I understood the point of jazz, until then an almost alien music to me.”

This year also saw the release of Finding Fela, a documentary directed by Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney. The documentary follows the life of Fela Kuti and the creation of the Broadway musical, Fela! Many of the national and international Felabrations will be hosting screenings of Finding Fela – the full list of Felabrations are below.

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