Seun Kuti is the youngest son of the famous Nigerian afro-beat musician Fela Kuti. Seun started learning to play saxophone when he was eight, which is also when he started taking piano lessons. Seun Kuti has been performing on stage since he was nine years old. He started his career as opening act with his father’s band, Egypt 80. And he still performs today with the same band. Apart from the new young bass player Kayode, Seun is probably the youngest person on stage. Most of the band members performed with Fela, and some look to now be in their fifties and sixties. Performing on stage with as many as twenty singers and musicians in regular sessions that sometimes go on all night was such an effective practical education that when Fela died in 1997, Seun, then just fifteen, was ready to take over.
Since then, he has led Egypt 80 as lead vocalist and saxophonist, the focal point of a band that his father had forged into one of Africa’s most legendary ensembles. While Seun is the front man, a star in his own right who is routinely recognized by fans on the streets of Lagos, in many ways Egypt 80 is still his father’s band. In performance, Seun comes across as a perfect stand-in for his famous Father but also stays very personal. His singing voice is deep like Fela’s, and his alto saxophone hits the lines and hooks his father composed with the same muscular style, although he tries to bring his own flavor to the obligatory solos on saxophone and synthesizer. And like Fela, on stage Seun lives up to a reputation as a sex symbol, shimmying, winding his hips and often discarding his shirt, to the delight of ladies fans.
Fela’s Afrobeat was a pungent blend of funk and jazz with an African sensibility, reminiscent of James Brown but grittier, nastier and vaguely unsettling, like fermenting fruit. With Seun, Egypt 80 is as explosive as they were under Fela, combining horns, keyboards, percussion, guitars and vocals in a sophisticated and overpowering blend that is always insistent. In the 70s the band performed almost nightly at The Shrine, a club Fela established, but these days they rehearse once a week and play three or four times a month at various venues around Lagos, sometimes in huge stadiums alongside other artists. The band also tours regularly in Europe, they alreadu hit France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, UK, Belgium, but also South Africa, Ghana…