Fela arrived in 1958 to study composition and trumpet
performance at Trinity College of Music, having been sent to
London to study medicine by his parents. Influenced by James Brown,
Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra, he formed his first band the Koola
Lobitos in 1961 and became a regular feature on the London music
scene before travelling to America.
In the US, Fela was introduced to the Black Power movement
which deeply affected his music and political motivation. His songs
began to describe racial and economic disenfranchisement, and
focused on prominent social issues. He then moved back to Africa
and formed a commune called Kalakuta Republic, complete with music
venue 'Africa Shrine', which he declared independent from Nigeria.
After releasing a song which heavily criticised the government, the
commune experienced a military attack in which Fela witnessed the
brutal murder of his mother.
Following arrests and military onslaughts, Fela's album output
slowed and he died of AIDS in 1997. More than a million people
attended his funeral in Nigeria. His son, Femi Kuti, now oversees a
restored 'Africa Shrine' in his memory.
Fela was an unforgettable figure in African history who
vehemently opposed the military government in Nigeria and inspired
the world with his music. Leaving behind an incredible seventy
albums, Trinity Laban is proud to have graduate who left such a
lasting impression, both musically and politically, across the
The National Theatre is now presenting the award-winning
Broadway musical FELA! documenting his larger than life story. The
triumphant tale, choreographed by Bill T. Jones, tells of Fela's
relentless fight against oppressive regimes and his devotion to
music in the struggle for freedom. The production will also be
broadcast live from the National Theatre on 13 January 2011 at
more Trinity Laban graduates