NEARLY 24 years after the exit of the Afrobeat legend and progenitor, Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Kuti (1938-1997), best known as Fela Anikulapo Kuti musically, the world has continued to acknowledge his sterling contributions as a prodigy and pioneer.
The late maverick musician was on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, nominated for induction in the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside 15 other international artistes or bands comprising Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, Jay-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage, Against The Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner and Dionne Warwick.
This is the first time Fela is being nominated to the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Usually, fans will vote for up to five nominees daily from the day of announcement, February 10 till April 30, 2021 via the Rock Halls website. Winners of the nomination will be inducted in May 2021 at the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio.
To be considered eligible for nomination, artistes or bands must have released their first commercial recording at least 25 years ago. As at Fela’s death on August 2, 1997, it had been 28 years since he released “The ’69 Los Angeles Sessions” on the Wrasse Records label. It was a re-issued album recorded in 1969 while Fela Kuti was living in Hollywood performing six nights a week at the Citadel de Haiti on Sunset Boulevard which was run by Bernie Hamilton.
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We wonder why Fela was not nominated during his lifetime and for 24 years after his death, given that the Abami Eda (the strange being) had met and even surpassed the criteria for this nomination before and long after his death.
A multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, composer, political activist, philosopher and pan-Africanist, Fela was the pioneer of Afrobeat, an African music genre combining traditional Yoruba and Afro-Cuban music with funk and jazz. He bestrides other nominees like a colossus and, therefore, more than deserves to be inducted.
Fela is also currently rated the sixth most worthy 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee after Todd Rundgren, Carole King, The Go Go’s, Tina Turner, and Mary J. Blige.
Apart from being the only African to be nominated, which is unique, Fela convincingly fulfills the two main objectives of the award – a demonstration of unquestionable musical excellence, talent and significant impact on the development, evolution, and preservation of Rock & Roll through Afrobeat.
There are other significant senses in which Fela is unique. All Fela’s music were created by him; he never remixed anyone’s music, including his own, and he never repeated themes.