15 September 2018

Nigeria: Femi Kuti... Afrobeat Prince Goes Live in Lagos

Lovers of Afrobeat music are in for an exciting moment, as Sheraton Lagos Hotel has teamed up with Chocolate City Group to stage a special live concert with Femi Kuti in Lagos.

Billed for September 22, the gig will see the critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and four-time Grammy Award nominee, thrill music lovers and members of Marriott International's award-winning loyalty programs - Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), with an exclusive live performance of his seventh studio album, One People One World.

Over the years, Marriott International has been focused on stepping up its experiences game, creating exclusive moments that help connect with members through their passions, be it culinary, music or sport.

From Masterclasses with renowned chefs, mixologists, DJs and photographers to behind the scenes access to concerts, to experiences around your favorite sport or an immersive experience of the local cuisine or culture, there is a lot to explore and discover what makes travel more enriching.

"We are committed to creating unforgettable moments for our loyal members, and what better way to do that than to connect with them through their passions," said Neal Jones Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.

"This is an opportunity for us to engage with our loyal members and build a strong emotional connection with them by creating a once-in-a lifetime experience while amplifying the benefits of our Loyalty Programs.

Read More: Sheraton Lagos set to enthrall afrobeat enthusiasts with 'Femi Kuti Live Concert'

Through this very special experience created by Sheraton Lagos Hotel, we want our members to carry back a memory that ties back to the destination and our brand."

On his part, Senior Marketing Manager Chocolate City Group, Edward Israel-Ayide said the organisation is happy to collaborate with Marriot International and Sheraton Lagos to give its guests and Marriott International loyalty members an exclusive live music experience with its artist and Afrobeat legend Femi Kuti.

"His music and brand embody Africa's rich culture and we have tried to replicate that in the set up, management and curation of the event.

We expect guests to remember the event for the energy and excitement that Femi's music brings," he said.

Ahead of the concert, members can redeem their points for an experience package on the Moments platform, which includes front row seats and access to special viewing area at concert at Sheraton Lagos; complimentary cocktails and hors d'oeuvres during the concert; VIP backstage passes; exclusive breakfast with Femi Kuti at the Club Lounge on 23rd September, 2018 with a photo opportunity with the artiste; a one-night stay in the Sheraton Club Room for two people at the iconic Sheraton Lagos; airport transfers and a goody bag with a bounce-back F&B voucher.

"As a city landmark hotel and a hotspot for the local community as well as the international traveler to Nigeria, we are excited to bring this concert to the hotel and create transformative moments for our guests and loyalty program members, through the reverberating rhythm of Afrobeat" said Barry Curran General Manager Sheraton Lagos Hotel.

In addition to Femi Kuti there will be performances from five other popular artists. Invited guests and loyalty members will be treated to an eclectic selection of expertly crafted cocktails and finger favorites.

Perhaps, if there's an award for the most touring Nigerian artiste, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti would pocket that category permanently.

From January to December every year, Femi and his Positive Force Band are touring Europe, America and other parts of the world; his schedule is usually fully booked. You hardly see him in the country, less granting interviews.

Born in London and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Femi, the first son of the late Afrobeat legend Fela, began his musical career playing in his father's band, The Egypt 80.

In 1986, he started his own band, Positive Force and began establishing himself as an artiste independent of his father's legacy.

In the mid-'90s, Motown offered him a record deal with its boutique label Tabu; Femi's eponymous debut album resulted.

Released in 1995, the record won praise throughout Europe and Africa for offering a more streamlined and accessible version of his father's music.

He then embarked on an extended promotional tour, crossing first Africa, then Europe in 1996 and 1997.

Practicing a similar style of Afrobeat as his father, Femi helped introduce the percussive blend of jazz and funk music to the international masses, along with his father's same sense of political activism.

But after Fela's death in 1997, Femi suddenly found himself the subject of immense attention.

To the multi instrumentalist, being Fela's child is both positive and negative, depending on the side of the divide.

"If you were with the poor people, you are great, but if you were with the snubs, it wasn't really great.

Even my wife, the family rejected me because I'm Fela's son; the mother said, 'the leopard would never change its spots," he said in one of his interviews with The Guardian.

To marry Femi, his former wife, Funke, had to run away from her parents.

"My sister too had that problem; when their boyfriend's parents found out that they are Fela's children, they too asked them not to bring them to the house again."

But on the streets, "everybody loved us. In school, too, we had problems; the rich children didn't like us because their parents were anti-Fela, but the poor children loved us because their parents were pro-Fela.

The same with teachers; some were for while some were against Fela."

Asked if was ever punished in school for being Fela's child, he said, "Well, I have this belief that some teachers over-punished me because they didn't like Fela.

However, there were some, who loved me because of Fela, but they didn't give me any favour academically.

They would call me, 'ah, Femi, how's your father?' So, you could tell that they liked my father," he recalled.

However, in areas like Mushin and Ajegunle, which were considered Fela's territory, Femi was at home.

"I used to go to the poor people's cinema houses like Rainbow and Jebako Cinema; we used to go to Plaza Cinema and others, which were for rich people; I preferred to jump school and go watch Indian movies at Rainbow Cinema.

They loved us so much; I could walk on any bad streets then and people would shout, 'ah, omo Fela, omo Fela ... ' that was very interesting," he enthused.

Meanwhile, at the age of 12, Femi was already riding his father's cars to school, to the admiration of other kids.

"When I started to ride my father's Volvo and Range Rover to the Baptist Academy, I used to have a lot of problem with the police. I was very popular then; I was notoriously popular," he noted.

To Femi, the death of Fela was not as heartbreaking as the cause of his death.

"It was difficult, but I knew he was loved. To defend him because he died of AIDS, that was really a difficult thing.

For me, I didn't see it as a big deal because I understood death; he could have died of cancer or anything.

However, it was a new topic of death and people were talking about it. I had a feeling that probably, the government was trying to use it to blacklist him," he said.

Even at that, Femi was confident that no matter how the story went, people would appreciate Fela in death; he was confident that millions of people would come for his burial.

"Fela's death didn't disturb me that much because he had a fulfilling life; sexually, materially, he had achieved everything. He was more than a great man; he was like a demi-god.

So, I didn't feel any kind of dejection. I was even kind of proud because of positive reports about him; journalists loved him.

In fact, the Commissioner of Police then came out to say that there was no robbery for three days; he said robbers signed a pact that they won't rob for three days in honour of Fela."

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