Afrobeat ambassador Dele Sosimi, played keyboards in Fela Kuti’s band Egypt 80. When Fela was imprisoned in 1984, Dele co-led the band with Fela’s son, Femi. Dele and Femi went on to form their own band, Positive Force, in 1986. Keyboardist, vocalist, musical director, musical arranger and composer Dele Sosimi arrived on the London music scene in the mid-nineties. He formed his own band shortly afterwards and has not looked back since...
What led you to a career in music?
I was led to music by the life-changing experience of meeting Femi Kuti, who introduced me to Fela Kuti. For me, music is more of a passion - it is my life and not just a career.
Because it speaks to my soul! My soul expresses through music created, composed and performed. Each live performance is a fresh and true expression of the passions of the ups, downs, pains and joys of living Life. Most especially, Music gives me the added joy of being able to share my knowledge when I teach and facilitate Afrobeat workshops and masterclasses. I am also able to share my knowledge through collaborations, talks, lectures and symposia.
Is there a particular message that you seek to share through your music?
Loads of messages! But mainly messages of love for one another, love for life, peace...and most especially, a message of tolerance (for one another).
You have performed widely all over the world, which location has been the most memorable and why?
Tough one to answer! But I will say my Afrobeat Vibration performances in London at The New Empowering Church in Hackney (now closed) and later The Forge Camden (now closed). Why? because over a nine-year period, I managed to build and sustain a great following, whilst also keeping Afrobeat alive - Fela's Afrika Shrine-style...with four-hour marathon non-stop live sets until the "wee" hours of the morning! This left unforgettable experiences in the minds of our audiences, musicians and hosts!
Are musicians born or are they made?
It depends really - t's wrong to generalise in any case. My strong convictions, based on my own experience, is that many are made, many are born and many are industry manufactured!
What would you say is the difference between Afrobeat and Afrobeats? Is there a difference or are they the same thing?
Simply put, Fela originated Afrobeat with a very friendly, non-commercial attitude. His vision resulted in a very strong unapologetic "in your face" socio-political conscious body of lyrics. It grew to become more than just music - Afrobeat became Fela's way of life. It became his attitude to life and his personal cause. Twenty years after his death, Afrobeat is still being defined, re-defined, analyzed and researched within academia. Afrobeats, on the other hand, is more of an industry created Afro-pop style with a very tastily catchy, trendy, commercial-friendly flair. Afrobeat and Afrobeats are definitely not the same on numerous levels.
What was Fela Kuti like to work with or to work for?
If you knew what to expect and had no false expectations or illusions of grandeur, Fela was great to work for and with! He was a great teacher, a great groove master and wordsmith. The many stories he shared of his challenges as a young musician growing up in London, sort of prepared me for life in the UK.
What does the rest of the year hold for you?
We have the 9th anniversary of Afrobeat Vibration featuring Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra (DSAO) in London at The Jazz Cafe in London on December 15. I am also working on my next albums and collaborations for 2018 and beyond.
Dele Sosimi...thank you!
E go betta
by Dele Sosimi (at Felabration 2015, London)