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FELA! Joins With NABJ For TELLING OUR STORIES With Terry McMillan

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The award-winning Broadway musical Fela!, Harlem's Hue Man Bookstore and the Arts and Entertainment Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) have joined forces to bring a unique promotion to Broadway audiences.

Following the 2pm matinee performance of Fela! this Saturday, December 4, best-selling author Terry McMillan (Disappearing Acts, Mama, Waiting to Exhale) will join the cast for a discussion about the importance of telling stories from the Africa Diaspora. Special emphasis will be placed on how stories of black communities are told and who tells them. Additionally, they will talk about how and why the arts are used as vital agents of social, cultural and political change. Independent producer, personality and writer Patrick L. Riley who also serves as NABJ A & E Task Force Co-Chair, will moderate the talk back. Immediately following the discussion, Ms. McMillan will sign copies of her latest book, Getting to Happy, the sequel to her blockbuster novel Waiting to Exhale. The book signing will take place at Serafina Restaurant in The Time Hotel, 224 W. 49th Street.

The cost for this very special books and Broadway event is $85 with promotional code FEHAP1111. The price includes orchestra seating for the matinee of Fela! on December 4! and a signed copy of McMillan's Getting to Happy. Tickets can be purchased online at www.broadwayoffers.com, by calling Telecharge at 212.947.8844, or at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Box Office, 230 W. 49th Street.

Fela!, the true story of the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti whose soulful Afrobeat rhythms ignited a generation, is a triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, featuring Kuti's captivating music and the visionary direction and choreography of Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones. Inspired by his mother, a civil rights champion, Kuti defied a corrupt and oppressive military government and devoted his life and music to the struggle for freedom and human dignity.

From Mama to Disappearing Acts to Waiting to Exhale and its sequel Getting to Happy, Terry McMillian has forever altered the way the world sees the lives of African-American women and how they see themselves. She enables readers to enter black communities that are vital, vibrant and filled with multifaceted complex people with a wide range of experiences. She is a supreme storyteller who takes what is culturally specific and makes it universal. To find the universal in the specific is no easy task. And because Ms. McMillian can do that, she has set the literary and film worlds on fire, proving beyond a doubt that there is an authentic thirst and huge market for well-told stories about women of color.
NABJ A & E Co-Chair Patrick L. Riley has been an more than a decade, Patrick's clients include HARPO PRODUCTIONS, NBC, BET, AT&T, ESPN, HURRICANE PRODUCTIONS, I-STYLE TV.COM, CROSSWALKS TV, LEVI'S, REMY MARTIN, 'ESSENCE', COMCAST, and HBO. In front of the camera and behind-the-scenes, the multi-media journalist --- with a concentration on entertainment and pop culture --- has had the opportunity to interview and produce stories on a number of high-profile celebrities and newsmakers --- including Diana Ross; PRESIDENTS Bill Clinton AND Barack Obama; BEYONCE; Mary Tyler Moore; Quincy Jones; Tyler Perry; Jennifer Hudson; etc. His BLOG 'A DAY IN THE LIFE OF RILEY: POP CULTURE & POSSIBILITIES' (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/) gives a front-row seat into Patrick's life and his musings and observations within his world. He is currently writing his first book, a collection of narratives called 'BIG WILLIES & AMAZING GRACES: Gay men and their best girlfriends.

Founded in August 2002, Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe (2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd) is a privately held company, specializing in niche market book sales and café delights. Since opening its doors, the bookstore quickly established itself as a cornerstone in the revival of Harlem. Hue-Man is one of the largest and best known African-American bookstores in the country, and enjoys the reputation of a top-flight organization nationwide.

With a stream of events and appearances by well-known guests and authors, Hue-Man has hosted such literary figures as Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Alicia Keys, Walter Mosley, LeRoy Neiman, George Wein, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee - just to name of few. Hue-Man enjoys a prestigious reputation in the book industry and literary world, attracting top-rate authors and entertainment personalities. The bookstore is considered a must on any author's book tour.

Since its infancy, Hue-Man quickly emerged as a major player in the cultural life of Harlem, becoming a community hub for local New Yorkers as well as a national mecca for intellectual pursuits. Informative, enlightening, and enriching, the bookstore boasts 23 to 25 calendar events per month (www.huemanbookstore.com).

Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Edward Tyler Nahem, Slava Smolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Douglas G. Smith, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Susan Dietz/Mort Swinsky and Knitting Factory Entertainment, in association with Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson present Fela!, a new musical, based on the life of groundbreaking African composer, performer and activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue).

FELA! Performance Schedule

Now through November 28: Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday at 2pm & 8pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 3pm. (No Performance on Thursday, November 25.)

November 30 - December 19: Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday - Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 2pm & 7:30pm.

December 21 - December 26: Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday at 2pm & 8pm; Thursday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 2pm & 7:30pm. (No Performance on Friday, December 24.)

December 28 - January 2: Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday at 2pm & 8pm; Thursday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 2pm & 7:30pm. (No Performance on Friday, December 31.)

Tickets range from $27 - $127 (prices include a $2 Jujamcyn Theatre facility fee) and can be purchased online at www.Telecharge.com, by phone (212) 239-6200 or in-person at The Eugene O'Neill Box Office, located at 230 West 49th Street. A limited number of student rush tickets are available from the box office two hours before each performance. $27 each, cash and limit to one ticket per valid student ID. For more information about Fela! please visit www.FelaOnBroadway.com.

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti
Fela Ransome Kuti was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, north of Lagos in 1938. His father was a Christian schoolmaster, minister and master pianist and his mother was a world-recognized feminist leader, who was very active in the anti-colonial Nigerian women's movement during the struggle for independence.

Fela was educated in Nigeria amongst the indigenous elite. Ironically, many of his classmates in his Nigerian school would become the very military leaders he so vociferously opposed.

With medical aspirations for their offspring (Fela's older brother, Koye, was to become a Deputy Director of the World Health Organization and his younger brother, Beko, President of the Nigerian Medical Association) in 1958 Fela's parents sent him to London for a medical education. Instead, he registered at Trinity College's school of music where he studied composition and chose the trumpet as his instrument. Quickly tiring of European composers, Fela, struck by MiLes Davis and Frank Sinatra, formed the Koola Lobitos in 1961, and his band became a fixture in London's club scene. Two years later, Fela returned to Nigeria, restarted the Koola Lobitos, and became influenced by JAmes Brown. Trying to find an authentic musical voice, he added elements of traditional Yoruba, high life and jazz, and "Afrobeat" was born. In 1969, Fela's Koola Lobitos traveled to Los Angeles to tour and record. During his eight months in the US, with LA as a home base, Fela befriended Sandra Isidore, who introduced him to the writings and politics of Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver and other proponents of Black nationalism and Afrocentrism.

With this new politically explicit and critical worldview, Fela reformed the Koola Lobitos as Nigeria 70 and returned to Lagos. He founded a commune/recording studio called the Kalakuta Republic, complete with his own private nightclub, The Shrine, and Fela dropped his given middle name "Ransome," and replaced it with a Yoruba name "Anikulapo" (meaning "he who carries death in his pouch"). Playing constantly and recording at a ferocious pace, Fela and band (who were now called Africa 70) became huge stars in West Africa and beyond. His music served as a rallying cry for the disenfranchised, critiquing the military government, and made Fela not only a pop star but thrust him into political life. People took to the streets singing his songs and the military responded by viciously harassing Fela, jailing him and nearly killing him on several occasions.

In 1977, during a government-sanctioned attack on his Kalakuta Republic commune, Fela and other members of his commune were arrested; Fela himself suffered a fractured skull as well as other broKen Bones; a number of women living at Kalakuta were beaten and raped; and his 82-year old mother was thrown from an upstairs window, inflicting injuries that would later prove fatal. The soldiers set fire to the compound and prevented fire fighters from reaching the area. Fela's recording studio, all his master tapes and musical instruments and the only known copy of his self-financed film Black President were destroyed.

After the Kalakuta tragedy, Fela briefly lived in exile in Ghana, returning to Nigeria in 1978. A year later, he formed his own political party, MOP (Movement of the People) and ran for president in two elections, although his campaigning was consistently blocked by the military. As the '80s ended, Fela recorded blistering attacks against Nigeria's corrupt military government.

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was arrested more than two hundred times in his life, and charged with almost every conceivable crime, although only serving one eighteen month sentence in jail for a currency violation. Despite this constant harassment he continued to live in Nigeria even though, as an icon in the international world of rock and roll, soul, jazz and hip-hop, he could have at any point abandoned Nigeria and led the life of an international music superstar. His death on August 3, 1997 of complications from AIDS deeply affected musicians and fans internationally, as a unique and ineffable musical and sociopolitical voice was lost. In Nigeria one million people attended his funeral. His incredible body of work, almost 70 albums, is now available, through public demand, all over the world.

 


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