VIDEO: Watch Oneika Phillips, Lillias White and More Come Together to Spread Joy with FELA!

By: May. 26, 2020
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It's been over a decade since Fela! first took Broadway by storm, and still, in 2020, its cast is united and making a difference. Oneika Phillips, who starred in the original Broadway cast, put out a call to her cast mates to come together for the #DontRush Challenge. "It evolved into an even more meaningful project with layers of celebration such as aligning with the ten-year anniversary of the show's 11 Tony nominations, including Sahr as Fela and Lillias White as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. A decade ago, we were at the height of breaking ceilings and blowing minds on Broadway," writes Phillips.

"Now we are educators, business owners, performers, activists, leaders, and Mothers. Several of these beautiful women included their children who are extensions of Fela's legacy through their parents teaching them about his music and powerful messages of rebellion and activism. It's a bridging of Africa to America, an interlocking of the past, present, and future that leaves me uplifted and hopeful, even amid the global pandemic.

"In its final version, this is as an homage to the women who are paramount in Fela's evolution as the Father of Afrobeat: his Queens, Sandra Izsadore and his formidable mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti," says Phillips. "It doesn't have to stop with us. Anyone worldwide, including friends from other casts and shows (London, International and National Tours, Nigeria), should bring their own vibe and vision to life using Fela's music as their inspiration and the weapon of narrative and expression. Especially now."

Lillias White, who earned a Tony nomination for her performance in the musical, writes: " [This video] is from the hearts of the women of Fela! on Broadway and it gives me great joy to be a part of the fold!"

The video, which was brought to our attention by Natascia Diaz, features music that was facilitated by Moulin Rouge! star and Fela! veteran Sahr Ngaujah (Drunken Dragon Sound) and Asen James (Rebel A) of FON SoundSystem. It features: Abena Koomson-Davis, Jill M. Vallery Iya Okanjobi, Elasea Douglas, Chanon Judson-Johnson, Rujeko Sarah Dumbutshena, Iris Wilson, Lauren Atkins De Veaux, Shakira Marshall, Hettie Barnhill, Oneika Phillips, Aimee Wodobode, Saycon Sengbloh, and Lillias White.

Fela! is a musical with a book by Bill T. Jones and Jim Lewis, based on music and lyrics by the late Nigerian singer Fela Kuti, with additional music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean and additional lyrics by Jim Lewis. It is based on events in the life of groundbreaking Nigerian composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The musical ran Off-Broadway for one month in 2008. It premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on November 23, 2009, and ran until January 2011.