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date: 12 November 2019


  • Wolfgang Bender


A style of African popular music. The term was coined in 1967 by Fela Kuti, who was known as ‘the king of Afrobeat’. Fela played Highlife music while studying music at Trinity College of Music, London (1958–63). Upon his return to Nigeria he referred to the style as ‘highlife jazz’. Geraldo Pino from Sierra Leone visited Lagos around 1966, playing a style referred to as Afro-soul. Pino's success encouraged Fela to develop an individual style.

Fela toured the USA in 1969 and was exposed to that country's Black Power movement. He also heard free jazz and rhythm and blues. His awareness of the political power of music is reflected in his subsequent development of Afrobeat, a fusion of jazz, soul and African musics with lyrics in Pidgin and Yoruba. He consciously highlighted the Africanness of his own music, claiming that he played African music since jazz was originally an African form of music....

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