Knitting Factory Records is about to undergo a massive reissue campaign, re-releasing the entire Fela catalogue. There are Fela-related celebrations – DJ nights, really, as best as I can tell – but none of them are here. We’ll have to make due with a free mp3 download of “Zombie” and wait for the reissues.
Felabrations 2009 – Celebrating The Life & Music Of Fela Kuti
In support of the Knitting Factory Records re-launch of Fela Kuti’s music catalogue, as well as the debut of the FELA! show on Broadway, Giant Step has organized official Felabration events in more than 15 cities across North America throughout the month of October; this outstanding schedule of Felabrations will bring together some of the best DJs, musicians, and promoters around to celebrate the life, music, and birthday of Fela Anikulapo Kuti (October 15, 1938 – August 2, 1997). These events will unite the diverse communities and Tastemakers across the country that are instrumental in keeping Fela’s music alive.
The original Felabrations date back to the early 1970s when Fela and his band took over the courtyard of the Empire Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, and performed several nights a week to thousands of worshipping fans. “The Shrine,” as the courtyard came to be known, became a very popular nightspot and the audience was made up of everyone from the youths of Lagos to professors, civil servants, government officials and even soldiers. And of course, the Shrine was a center for much more than music. To quote Michael E. Veal in his book, Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon, “more than a mere entertainment club, Fela considered it an actual shrine to his ideological heroes – a space in which his political inclinations fused with musical incantations to assume spiritual dimensions.”
Now, Felabration is an annual festival dedicated to the promotion of Afrobeat and African culture and to the preservation of Fela’s legend and artistry. Fela would have been 71 on October 15.