Photo: Getty Images for Sonos
I get amazed every time whenever I mention Fela Kuti or Afrobeat and whoever is around me has no clue about either. When the U.S. was raging with funk and jazz ’60s, Nigeria was having its beginnings with this music phenomena that would change that course of history. Sonos Studio, per usual hosting provoking audiovisual experiences, featured Alex Gibney’s film “Finding Fela” which chronicles the life of Fela Kuti, the pioneer of Afrobeat music who with 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. The film, plus the dynamic sound of Sonos Studio made this exclusive screening a spectacular experience.
Fela Kuti was born in Nigeria in 1938. Son of a Christian schoolmaster, minister and pianist and a recognized feminist leader active in the anti-colonial Nigerian women’s movement. “Finding Fela” displays the evolution for his interest in music accompanied by old film clips and images of the creation of the Broadway production “Fela!” (check out our photos). Fela studied music in Europe and heavily influenced by jazz he formed his first band the Koola Lobitos. When returning to Nigeria he integrated beats of highlife, yoruba and jazz coming with a new sound, “Afrobeat”. James Brown, the black Panther movement, and literature all had great effects on Kuti when visiting the U.S. He took this and transferred them to powerful lyrics in music for “the people”. Narrated by his Sandra Izadore, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti and more, “Finding Fela” tells a magnetic story of music history. Fela’s life was filled with tragedies, strength, controversy and more … and music was his weapon.
Whether a musician, activist or just a person that loves a very well told story, “Finding Fela” is film not to be missed. “Finding Fela” opens in Los Angeles on August 15 at the Nuart Theater.
Words: Farah Sosa
Photos: Getty Images for Sonos