Profile: Femi Anikulapo-Kuti
Femi Anikulapo-Kuti of Nigeria is an international star of Afro-beat music that combines African rhythms with jazz, hip-hop and funk. Both a saxophonist and a singer, Femi is the son of the legendary Nigerian bandleader, saxophonist and political activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who is credited with originating the Afro-beat in the early 1970s by blending African music with American jazz and soul music. When Fela died of AIDS in 1997, Femi decided to speak out about the disease to help protect others from it. In Femi's view, "AIDS will wipe out the future generations of Africa. If I can use my music to stop that, I should. I see this as a very important, vital issue." Now, during his concerts, he talks to audiences about the dangers of AIDS.
Femi says that the impetus for his latest album, Shoki Shoki, is "Letting the world know exactly what is going on in Africa, with my people, with my culture, who I am." His politically charged themes include love, empowerment and consciousness-raising in songs such as 'Blackman Know Thyself'. (All videos and audios are in Real format. To view these you will need the RealPlayer, available from Real Networks.)
Born in London in 1962, Femi spent most of his childhood in Lagos. Beginning at the age of 16, he played with his father's 40-piece orchestra, Egypt '80, for many years. He first rose to prominence in 1985, when in his father's absence he led the band at the Hollywood Bowl and gave a rousing performance that thrilled the audience. Two years later, Femi formed his own 16-member band, The Positive Force. His wife, Funke, now sings with the group, which has had several highly successful tours in Europe, the United States and within Africa.
In 1999, Femi received top honors at the Kora All Africa Music Awards, including Best Male Artist in Africa and Best Song for 'Beng, Beng, Beng'. In May 2000, Femi received a World Music Award as the Best-Selling African Artist for 'Beng, Beng, Beng'.
Femi Anikulapo-Kuti answers questions on what he is doing against AIDS. Click on a question to view the video answer. You will need the RealPlayer, available from Real Networks.