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FEMI KUTI, eldest son of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, began his career playing in his father’s band Egypt 80. He founded his own group Positive Force, with Egypt 80’s keyboard player Dele Sosimi, in 1986 and has never looked back. Though he has forged his own path and become a world music icon in his own right, “the baton is definitely in his hands.” (Questlove) Kuti’s relentless energy as a performer is matched by his activism–he has championed AIDS awareness and fighting disease through various projects, often in collaboration with other musicians, and has been outspoken on issues of poverty and corruption in Nigeria. While his art is inherently politicized, his shows are always joyous and fiercely celebratory occasions.
The Tuareg guitar wizard BOMBINO’s “pyrotechnic virtuosity in expressing tichumaren (desert blues) has been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix.” (NPR) Bombino, whose given name is Goumour Almoctar, was born in Tidene, Niger, an encampment of nomadic Tuaregs northeast of Agadez. His musical career has taken shape against the backdrop of his participation in various Tuareg rebellions since 1980, the year of his birth. He has, along the way, been championed by musicians ranging from the Rolling Stones to Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, who produced his Nonesuch Records debut Nomad (2013) to Dave Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, who produced his groundbreaking 2015 album Azel.