Hollywood big-guns Will Smith, Jada Pinkett and Jay Z have joined forces to produce a fantastic Broadway musical about Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti . The show which opened on November 23 was the first by top Hollywood guns to enter into the African beat scene. The musical is based on the life of Fela Anikulap-Kuti, who is known as one of the founders of afrobeat and who died in 1997. Jay Z, whose artistic involvement is thought to be minimal have not revealed publicly how much money he invested in this production.
The three stars made an appearance on the red carpet at the opening of the show at Eugene O’Neil Theatre, in New York,. ‘Fela!’ is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winning star Bill T.Jones and music for the show has been arranged by the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra.
Afrobeat is a fusion of jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms. Fela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria, to a middle-class family. His mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement and his father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, a Protestant minister and school principal, was the first president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers. His brothers, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti and Olikoye Ransome-Kuti both medical doctors, are well known in Nigeria.
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