Even for the Houston International Festival, a booking like Seun Kuti & Egypt '80 is an eyebrow-raising, once-in-a-blue-moon event. The youngest son of Nigerian icon Fela Kuti, whose distinctive hybrid of traditional folk music and horn-heavy jazz and funk became known as Afrobeat, Seun Anikulapo Kuti joined his father's band Egypt '80 at age nine. He took over as front man upon Fela's 1997 death, and now leads Egypt '80 on tenor sax and vocals. At only 29, he has now lived long enough to see his father's music made into the Broadway show Fela!, which is coming to Jones Hall in June. "I think it was a necessary next step for the growth of Fela's message," Seun says. "The show going to Broadway brought the music to a whole new, different audience." Egypt '80's latest album is last year's From Africa with Fury: Rise (Knitting Factory), a relentless funk party that dares to stand up to multinational corporations and denounce the "blood diamond" trade. "I use my music to speak about changes for my people, and to enlighten them about where we should go as Africans," Seun says. "My music is the only way I have to fight for my people."
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