Nigerian musician and band leader Fela Kuti was one of the most influential African musicians in the past decades. He has become a legendary figure and his legacy continues through dozens of Afrobeat bands throughout the world, including groups led by some of his sons, Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti. A new book, titled Fela – Kalakuta Notes (Kit Publishers, ISBN 9789068327489) provides captivating details and photography about the life of Fela Kuti. The mesmerizing photographs are by Jak Kilby, Rico d’Rozario and Thierry Secretan.
The multifaceted author, John Collins, knew Fela Kuti well. He constructs a captivating picture of Fela thanks to testimonies by musicians that played in Fela Kuti’s bands (as well as personal accounts, essays, diary notes and a 1975 interview with Fela Kuti. Collins provides juicy details about the birth of the Kalakuta Republic. While in prison for marihuana charges, Fela became a leader among inmates, who called the jail cell Kalakuta (rascal in Swahili). After his release, Fela renamed his home the Kalakuta Republic, a haven for musicians and artists in the thriving Lagos scene that also the scene of numerous confrontations with the local authorities.
Throughout out the book, John Collins explains how and when the term Afrobeat was coined, in the early 1970s (we’ll let you read the book to find out). Readers will also learn about Fela Kuti’s travels and his long stays in Ghana, a country where he found considerable support during hard times.
Kalakuta Notes includes an extensive discography by Ronnie Graham, originally published in 2002. If you are interested in all of Fela’s CDs, this is your opportunity to get the complete list.
The author of Kalakuta Notes, Dr John Collins, has been actively involved in the Ghanaian and West African music scene since 1969, as a musician, band leader, recording producer and engineer, music union executive, writer and music journalist. He has published numerous articles on West African music and over the past 30 years has influenced and inspired countless others. His previous books include African Pop Roots (1985), and Highlife Time (1996).
The extraordinary Fela: Kalakuta Notes is a must read for all who are interested in one of the most influential contemporary musicians that came out of Africa.
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