Photos

Fela Kuti's Queens Re-imagined by Photographer Dexter Jones

Stunning images of the Fela queens shot by photographer Dexter Jones for the exhibit "DEAD PRESIDENT: Headmistresses of State"

With the incredible and successful FELA! on Broadway, alongside Knitting Factory's re-release of the Fela Kuti catalog, it seems like NYC is Fela-crazed these days. Our friend Dexter Jones hit us up with these beautiful images of the Fela Queens (*not the original Queens, but his imaginings of them), which are currently being featured at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) through Labor Day. If you're in New York, definitely catch the exhibit, "DEAD PRESIDENT: Headmistresses of State," while it's still up. About his work,  Jones says "One For All. Anikulapo sang and danced in the face of his persecuters. He was willing to sacrifice his life for the livelihood of his wives and his community. In return 'Head Mistresses' is a literal depiction of All For One. Fela Kuti was a king among queens. Mourning his death, we see here how love and loyalty can transcend lifetimes. Mr. President we salute you. Ashe."


All photos courtesy of Dexter Jones.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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