Songlines Music Awards Winner

Best Artist: Femi Kuti

Album: Africa for Africa (Wrasse Records)

Goran Bregovic Buy this issueClick to listen


Femi Kuti will be presented with his Songlines Music Award at The Big Chill Festival on August 7.

The insistent, pulsating rhythms of Afro-beat have been resonating loud and clear over the last 12 months - with the highly successful transfer of the Broadway show FELA! to London; this year's African Soul Rebels tour featuring Fela's youngest son Seun, together with support act and hybrid Afro-beat band Donso and the long-awaited release of Fela's eldest son Femi's Africa for Africa album. It's this latest studio album which has won him the Best Artist accolade in this year's Songlines Awards.

Femi KutiThe title is an apt one - and it's a subject Femi, just like his highly political and outspoken father, doesn't shy away from: ‘Africa can't wait for the West to help. We have to help ourselves,’ he said in a Songlines feature in #73.

The album has been hailed as a career highlight, and one that means he’s finally stepping out of his infamous father's shadow.

Songs like ‘Politics in Africa’, ‘Can't Buy Me’ and ‘Bad Government’ all serve to underline his utter disdain for the corrupt politicians of his native Nigeria and other African nations - a theme that continues to be pertinent today with events happening across North Africa and Ivory Coast.

Femi is a tour de force on stage - rapidly switching between keyboards and sax, all the while firing out hard-hitting lyrics and comments to his audience.

Last year he wowed crowds at Glastonbury and he's currently on tour in the US. He'll be returning to Europe in the summer and for the first time will be sharing a stage with his younger brother Seun at a special Afro-beat day at Denmark's Roskilde Festival.

© Jo Frost