Video

The Music Of William Onyeabor Live On The Tonight Show

The 'Atomic Bomb' band with David Byrne, Sinkane, the Lijadu Sisters and more perform William Onyeabor classic 'Fantastic Man' live on The Tonight Show.


Three decades after the fact, the music of William Onyeabor has officially reached late night television audiences. Last night the Atomic Bomb band hit The Tonight Show to perform their rendition of Onyeabor's funky-synth anthem "Fantastic Man." Decked in Onyeabor's signature cowboy hat look, the live tribute supergroup ensemble brought the sort of bubbly spirit we've grown to expect from Who Is William Onyeabor mania. Luaka Bop founder and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne led the non-egotistical ego trip along with the Lijadu Sisters on the mics up front, musical director Sinkane and a bouncy Money Mark on keys, and LCD Soundsystem's Pat Mahoney on drums. The Tonight Show performance comes in the lead-up to the stateside premiere of ATOMIC BOMB! The Music Of William Onyeabor, a two-night live spectacle in tribute to the music of the Nigerian synth-funk "mystery man." If you're in NYC, catch the Atomic Bomb band at BAM this weekend as a part of Red Bull Music Academy New York or head to Luaka Bop for details on the San Francisco (5/6) and L.A. (5/8) shows.

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.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.