I am going to an owambe in Brooklyn on Friday. Okay, it is a concert, but it will feel like an outdoor party reminiscent of Nigeria. There is no doubt that the Nigerian pop music scene is alive and well with a strong showing in urban nightclubs all over the continent and the publicity generated by Kanye West’s signing of D’Banj to his label. However it is the traditional Afrobeat produced in the country over the past few decades that has received the most critical acclaim.
Fela, the legendary musician/activist was resurrected in a Tony Award winning play currently on tour in London, his son Seun, who took over his Egypt 80 band after he died recently released a new album, but it is Faaji Agba who will be sharing the stage with Seun during a performance
This veteran group of legendary musicians has been described as Nigeria’s answer to Buena Vista Social Club. Faaji Agba includes some superstars in the world of Afrobeat like Sina Ayinde Bakare (son of the late Yoruba composer/guitarist Ayinde Bakare), Fatai Rolling Dollar (palm-wine vocalist and master of the agidigbo/finger piano), Alaba Pedro (high-life master guitarist and composer), Prince Eji Oyewole (afro-funk saxophone great) and S.F. Olowokere (master of juju/owambe guitar style). They are bringing back some old school Nigerian beats like juju, agidigbo blues, Faaji (which literally means enjoyment) grooves and more. Iconic musicians such as Salif Keita and Asa have stopped by to visit them in Lagos and there is a documentary being made about the group.
The concert appears to be a bridge between the old and the new. For those of us in the middle, perhaps it will be the best of both worlds. So, on Friday the 22nd of July, 2011, I will be carrying my load and going to the owambe party cum concert in Brooklyn to celebrate Nigerian music at its finest with my compatriots.