Last evening I attended the musical FELA! at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in NYC! And it was INCREDIBLE!
It was all breathtaking. Thank you so much Alissa for thinking of me and sharing the tickets.
For those of you who don’t know…
Fela Anikulapo Kuti or simply Fela, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick. James Brown cited him as one of the originators of Funk.
The musical was set in a club called The Shrine in Logos, Nigeria during the summer of 1978 which was Fela’s final concert there. It takes place six months after the death of Funmilayo, Fela’s mother.
All the actors and actresses could sing their FACES off! Sahr Ngaujah who played Fela during my show was SEXY and super talented! Lillias White the actress who played Funmilayo had a voice that was just out of this world. I mean this woman didn’t sing she SANG!!!! The dancers were out of control with their body movements. During Act 1 they had a segment where the audince was involved and were asked to do the “ticking of the clock” dance.. it was so much fun.
My favorite scene was in Act 2; Dance of the Orisas. The set was awesome and this gave Lillias White the opportunity to really show her talent.
FELA! was thought provoking and moving. It helped me think outside of the struggles African Americans entailed during the civil rights era and made me compare the struggles that ALL Africans whether in America or Africa, London, Haiti or the Caribbean Isles; when colonization with military force and bible thumping missionaries come into play it’s never a good thing!
Music, for Fela, Bob Marley, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Nina Simone and countless other politically charged artists, was their weapon of choice. Their voices were heard and people fought for their human rights based on the lyrics these pioneers sang. It makes me wonder if the world we currently live in is so placated that we think everything is all good and there is no need for any new political uprisings. Are we really where we want to be as a people? Really? Have any of the new artists that are so revered by our youth taking a stand on Health Care Reform, homelessness, illegall immigration, crime and incarrceration?
It just makes me wonder what we are doing in honor of our anecestors to continue the fight for our human rights.
All that said… if you are in the greater NYC area you should go see this musical it was POWERFUL! If you don’t see the musical at least do some online research or go to the library and pick up a book or two to learn about Fela Kuti.
Until next time…