Dele Sosimi and his Afrobeat Orchestra
23/11/2017, 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra Nigerian musician Sosimi was enculturated into Afrobeat through years of working with the progenitor of the form, Fela Kuti. Fela and Afrobeat is best-known as a political form of popular music which integrated Anglophone West Africa’s Highlife music with the protest funk and jazz genres of the 1960s civil rights and black power movements in the U.S.A. The spiritual components that shaped Afrobeat are lesser known.
Sosimi and Kuti are from the large Yorùbá ethnic group in Nigeria, numbering around forty million. The vast majority of Yorùbás are Muslim or Christian, and both musicians were born into an educated Christian elite in Lagos. Fela was from a prominent Anglican family, partly famed by his grandfather, the Reverend Josiah Jesse Ransome-Kuti (1855-1930), a musician who was among the first to translate hymns into Yorùbá. He is said to be the first African musician to record outside of the continent in Bath in the 1920s. Fela inherited this deep history of church music, which largely shaped the harmonies and song forms of twentieth-century Yorùbá popular music such as highlife and jùjú. In his private idiosyncratic spiritual practice, however, Fela reclaimed aspects of the Yorùbás’ marginalised pre- Christian and Muslim spiritual devotion for the deities called orishas. As an insider during Fela’s life, Sosimi will open the audience’s ears to the less obvious texts and musical structures that emerged from Fela’s little-known relationship to the orishas.
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