Afrodreamfest has come and gone but the glorious aftermath still linger in the hearts and souls of the attendees . Afrodreamfest, a touring concert to celebrate African Liberation Day ( #AfricaDay May 25) and promote upcoming talented neo~afro fusion artists in the diaspora took place this year (May 22 at Meridian 23 and May 23 at Silvana Harlem) in the vibrant city that never sleeps – New York City. It featured an eclectic line up of artists including myself (Afrosoul), Ayanbinrin – the female talking drummer (Afrofolk), Ogasilachi (AfroRnB), Eli Fola (AfroJazz), Laolu and The Afromysterics (Afrobeat), Aduke (Afrosoul) and bonus features Afro pop artistes – Ayo In Motion and Na!ra. To promote the event, you can also watch my Sahara radio interview with the Humble Prince here
Below is a heartfelt review by International Journalist Adanma Odefa in the selfie below 🙂
Afrodreamfest Experience in New York City
When a friend of mine told me about the Afrodreamfest in New York City, my first reaction was, ‘I might as well have an adventure, I’ve got nothing else to do!’. So I packed up and went to New York City from Washington DC not really expecting much. Although I had been in New York previously, the city didn’t fail in keeping me on my toes. Finally, we made it to Chelsea where the concert was holding.
My first thought was, ‘wow! What strong vocals! What powerful lyrics! What artistic sincerity!‘. This was the reaction the young lady Aduke evoked when she sang. Reeling from that, I sailed through several other performances including the beautiful ‘Naira’ who struck me as sleek, chic and distinct with her rap style. Naira effortlessly executed a marriage of American rap culture and African uniqueness.
The icing on cake for me was Ayanbirin. She has such a presence on stage that depicts Africanism in a way that was almost tangible. I gawked in awe as she dominated every single person in the room. Her power was all the more enchanting with her backup drummer and sidekick. Day one ended with dancing and exhaustion. I went back to my lodgings wondering what day two would bring.
By the end of day two, I was glad it was a two-day event. I had missed some of the performances from day one so I got the experience of fresh excitement. It was on this day that I got the opportunity of falling under the musical enchantress’s spell. Tosinger endeared me with her beautiful all African costume and her lively stage presence. Day two icing on the cake for me was AyoInMotion. I am not trustful of my capacity to put into words the powerful emotions this artist invoked in me. He reached deep into my soul and pulled out all things African within me and left me feeling sad for those who are unable to claim African roots.
Altogether, Afrodreamfest was precisely a dreamy artistic romance with Africa. I look forward to the next one with a barely contained feverish excitement.
Adanma Odefa International Journalist, Voice of America.
Nobel Prize Winner, Wole Soyinka of Nigeria, makes the role of women like Funmilayo clear when he states, “I have always insisted that American or European feminism has little to teach most other societies —- here is proof [For Women and The Nation: Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti] in this portrait of a remarkable woman in remarkable times, brought vividly to life in a work that explores the often neglected crevices of history.”
Fela Remembers Being Introduced To His Excellency Kwame Nkrumah By His Mother
There are many who see Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti as not only the mother of Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Afrobeat Musical Movement but also as the mother of the modern African women’s resistance movements in the 20th century. Scholarship on the crucial roles played by women in their independence movements and in anti-colonial movements in Africa is still underexplored. What do we know about the relationship of a Nigerian leader like Mme. Ransome-Kuti…
Ongoing for three years now, AfroDreamFest is an annual touring concert that celebrates and promotes neo afro-fusion artists/genres of music from the African continent in the diaspora to commemorate African Liberation Day. (May 25) . Previous ones were held in Atlanta and Houston and it is coming to NYC this year. For more about Afrodreamfest see – www.afrodreamfest.com
As the convener, I wanted to see a platform for afro-indie artists in the diaspora who make meaningful good music to come together and share a stage, it has been a journey and an ongoing one as the event continues to brand itself in the afro~diaspora traveling across select cities across America. As years go by, the hope is to have interested sponsors push it to a wider reach on a bigger stage with larger audiences who appreciate the afro fusion music these talented artists are putting out. Performing in New York on May 22 at world music venues Meridian 23 on Friday May 22 and on Saturday May 23 at Silvana respectively are Brooklyn based Afrobeat band ‘Laolu and The Afromysterics’, myself, Afrosoul/folk/acoustic music ‘Tosinger’, AfroRnB artist ‘Ogasilachi‘ , Afro Jazz Artist ‘Eli Fola’ and from Nigeria, Ayanbinrin- Africa’s foremost female Talking Drummer and a guest artist from Nigeria, afrosoul artist Aduke. Tickets are available online at $10 and will be $15 at the door. Doors open at 7.30pm and show starts 8pm till 11ish on both days. See you there if you are in New York, great way to spend the memorial day weekend holiday and enjoy/support good music. ~https://afrodreamfestnyc2015.eventbrite.com ~
Here’s a glimpse of what you will experience live.
My idea behind AfroDreamFest was inspired by the passion to promote and give a platform to the new wave of indie African/AfroConscious/Afropolitan artists in the diaspora who do a variation of genres of Soul – Jazz – Roots – Folk – World – Afrobeat – Acoustic music laced with African elements, merging genres of music creatively and beautifully with Afro~cultural influences,musically and lyrically on a contemporary platform.
These are true Artists of African origin around the world who are this generation’s throwback to past eras of real meaningful music, keeping alive and making soulful music that is so uniquely creative and relevant across borders, infusing language and cultural aspects that reach for the soul and spirit.
The vision is to tour the concert across different cities annually around May 25, the commemoration of African Liberation Day. It is currently independently produced and is open to partnerships and sponsorships to further expand the concept and its reach. The response to the movement has been positive and encouraging so far. Indie Afro artists need the on-ground presence to share their talents, and promote culture. I am one of them so I feel the need to step out as a visionary and make it happen.
The first edition of Afrodreamfest took place at the Southwest Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
During my stint as an Editor-at-large for Applause Africa magazine, I wrote a feature on a darling pearl of Uganda, Hasifa Meriam Kivumbi, who is a dancer and a social entrepreneur with a touching story to tell, this would be the beginning of a budding sisterhood and an eventual program partnership in the coming weekend. I am so excited about the second edition of my Afrodreamfest project- Afrodreamfest Houston 2014 which will be a benefit concert/silent auction to support Hasifa’s platform/project Clean Water for Uganda and my new NGO – Adopt – A – Guitar. See flyer. Hasifa is the current, running Miss Uganda USA 2014 aiming for the Miss Africa USA 2014 crown. She undoubtedly has the beauty .. and the brains, the passion… and the drive to give back to the community and especially her continent.
Get to know Hasifa Meriam
Hasifa Meriam Kivumbi is the creator of 180 degrees, a non-profit organization with a mission to “create doors in places where there were once walls” through motivation, inspiration and celebration of personal achievements. As a representative of Uganda, she has taken on the challenge to partner with the Global Water Partnership in their efforts to create a water secure world by 2020 as her platform. In 2012, Miss Kivumbi was crowned Miss. UNAA (Uganda North American Association) and has since been working on bridging the gap in personal achievement between continental Africans and Africans in the Diaspora through 180 Degrees.
Miss Kivumbi has been serving her community for years and has received many accolades for her passion for life and compassion towards others. In 2012, she was named the year’s Local Hometown Hero by the Modern Woodmen of America Fraternal Organization. She has been highlighted for her talents in dance, writing and modeling in the New York magazine Applause Africa and has been featured in many beauty publications including BHF Fashion and Photography magazine.
Do not be fooled however, Miss Kivumbi is more than just a pretty face; she has a passion for learning and education. In 2010, she was initiated into the National Society of ‘Who is Who’ among American Students. In her professional life, she owns an independent beauty consulting business that she uses to motivate and inspire women to feel their most beautiful both inside and out. For three years now she has served as a website weaver for Helpothers.org, an online community of over 1 million participants. The website encourages people to change the world through small and random acts of kindness. She has served as the spokesperson for the Breast Cancer Initiative of East Africa and wishes to share her journey and experiences in humanitarianism in her upcoming book. Currently her energy is directed towards improving the lives of the people of her native Uganda with the Clean Water for Uganda Project
Hear her speak:
To follow Hasifa’s journey to become the next Miss Africa USA 2014, like her Facebook page here, and to support her CWUP platform click here.
When it comes to music and general aura of the cultural creative, I am an old soul as evident in a huge section of my music taste. So it was with sparked interest and melancholy that I heard of the news of the death of Nigerian highlife, afrogroove, afrofunk musical legend ‘Bola Johnson’ who ironically, his discography included a title tagged ‘Man no die’ . I got the news of his demise, as posted on the wall of a fellow afro old-school music connoisseur who is a music historian, DJ & owner of ‘Comb & Razor’, Uchenna Ikonne. The news was broken to him this morning, however Mr Bola Johnson passed on recently, April 6, 2014 to be precise. No further info on the circumstances of his death. May his soul rest in peace. His music legacy lives on.
From the vaults of Philips in Nigeria comes this collection of mysterious trumpeter and bandleader Bola Johnson. Unmissable 60s and early 70s recordings for all highlife and Afrobeat fans. A missing jewel from a golden age of Nigerian music – Vampisoul Records
Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beat
About Bola Johnson – as culled from a VampiSoul Publication which now links to Munster Records.
Up till now, Bola Johnson only seems to figure in the margins of the high octane Lagos music scene of the late 60s and early 70s. He may have never had the focus, the career longevity or the catalogue of titans like Afrobeat’s Fela Kuti, juju’s King Sunny Ade or highlife’s Victor Olaiya, but his music took its own magnificent route through the popular music of the time. His joyful treasure of a voice embellished every style in his repertoire, from the sweetly melodic heights of highlife and palm wine to the soulful skanking of Afro-blues/funk and Afrobeat; his red hot trumpet scorches its way to your yearning soul; his tunes vibrate with infectious hooks and undulating rhythms; he seems equally at home composing across the stylistic range… Funk? Calypso? Highlife? You got it!
Bola Johnson was born in 1947 into a musical family. He attended Livingstone Academy in Lagos and, after that, the prestigious Eko Boys High School. In 1962 he dropped out of school to follow his musical destiny. His trumpet dreams were inflamed by his time playing with Nigerian trumpet-playing legend and highlife maestro Eddy Okonta, but he joined Eric Akeaze’s highlife band as a singer and maracas player in that same year, then resident at the Easy Life Hotel, in Mokola, Ibadan, which was the hub of the music scene in Nigeria in the 60s. When Eric Akeaze and his band left the Easy Life Hotel, Bola was asked to stay and set up the Easy Life Top Beats. They also toured the northern part of Nigeria. When Bola returned south, this time to Lagos later in 1968, he and his musicians were match fit and ready to make their funkiest tracks.
In 1964, while still only 17 years old, Bola had been signed to the Philips West African record label, and he recorded many of the rootsier tracks you can hear on this album as 7-inch singles. In 1968, in Lagos, he recorded the funkier material on his “Papa Rebecca Special” LP and later a rootsier album entitled “Ashewo Ajegunle Yakare”. Given how great he sounds, you’ve just got to ask exactly why more material wasn’t recorded. According to Bola, the A&R people at Philips in those days allowed sentiment for the past to override their judgment in promoting new artists, because they had highlife giants on their label such as Osita Osadebe, Rex Lawson, Victor Olaiya and Bobby Benson, and so it was hard for younger artists to get their attention, backing and consequent exposure.
Additionally, it was always difficult for him to own musical instruments, and bandleaders were the people who owned and supplied their musicians with musical hardware. Of course, you must factor in the civil war and the consequent decrease in popularity of highlife. Then the rise of juju, Afrobeat and the briefly fashionable Afro-rock. Classic and unique as Bola’s approach was, it didn’t seem to light the same kind of fuse for young Lagos. As his musical opportunities began to go off the boil, Bola went into broadcasting, firstly at Radio Nigeria Ibadan in 1970 and then he moved to the FRCN (Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria) in 1973. Sometimes he played at the Cool Cat in Ebute Metta, Lagos.
Bola Johnson 1947 -2014
Listen to his “Lagos sisi” track
Boomkat product review of ‘Man No Die’ CD
The irrepressible Vampisoul label presents a wonderful overview of Nigerian legend, Bola Johnson. With all the attention afforded to Fela Kuti, Victor Olaiya and King Sunny Ade, Bola seems to have slipped by all but the most ardent collectors and Nigerian natives, that is until Kayode Samuel painstakingly researched and dug deep in the crates to collect these twenty two track, spread over two discs. As you’ll discover when dipping in, Bola was a charming personality who could adapt his charming vocals and trumpet playing to a range of styles, from Calypso to Funk, Highlife and Afrobeat. Disc 1 contains the Afrobeat spiced palm wine styles of ‘Asewo Ajegunle Yakare’, the frisky merengue-like rhythms of his house band Easy Life Top Beats on ‘Oro Aiye’, and the swinging highlife of ‘Iyawo Kokoro Mi Da’ with its charming soap opera intro. Disc 2 opens with the killer drums of ‘Mimo Mimo Loluwo’ (sample hunters beware), before firing up the deadly James Brown-debted Yoruba Funk of ‘Ezuku Bozo’ and ‘Lagos Sisi’, plus the infectious blues licks and conga shake of ‘Lagos Special’, and heartwarming rootsy Highlife in ‘Edumare Soro’. Once word gets out about this album, there’s gonna be a stampede from the Afrobeat lovers!
Whatever happens to music royalties of legendary Afro musicians? What is the structure in place for African musicians to get what they rightfully and legally deserve when they are long retired or gone? or after foreign music tastemakers see the treasure in their work and take over representation/distribution, do they get what they rightfully deserve? This will be a great “look into” for future and I’ll be checking with my friend, Uchenna Ikonne, on his thoughts on that soon.
Talking about mysterious legends, this video documentary about William Onyeabor,the man and his music, intrigued me so much, to say the least. It is interesting how the relevance of ‘old music’ is now catching and riding on the waves of the ‘modern age’. Watch this.
Keeping the legacy of afro music alive, and promoting and supporting talented indie afro~artists today, who make contemporary afrofusion music on the continent and in the diaspora, is a passion/project of mine tagged ‘Afrodreamfest’. Check on it and be in the know and kindly spread the word. Thank you!