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Dele Sosimi Interview by DJ Ness Afro

Dele Sosimi with Tony Allen is the most active Afrobeat Ambassador and activist Worlwide. From his massive collaborations with Fela, Femi Kuti , Tony Allen to giants of electronic music like Joaquin Joe Claussel , Medlar, Onipa with our friend K.O.G released on Peter Gabriel’s Real World label, then add all his featuring with Afrobeat bands Worlwide, trust us the list is too long.
Dele’s career began when he joined Fela’s Anikulapo-Kuti’s Egypt 80, where he played keyboards for 7 years (1979-1986). Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was the founder of the style of music known as Afrobeat. The music is a blend of complex but highly danceable funk grooves, Nigerian traditional music (including hi-life), African percussion, underpinning the jazz horns and solos from other instruments, as well as rhythmical singing. Dele was the rhythm keyboard player for Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Egypt 80 and worked and toured extensively with Fela around the world…
Always busy and on the road Dele Sosimi kindly found the time in London to answer our 7 questions before his New Morning Paris night ! He has released fantastic albums on Wah Wah 45s that sold out twice.

-Ness Radio : On thursday the 18th you will be performing with your orchestra at New Morning, how do you see the Afrobeat Scene compared to London ?

-Dele Sosimi : I always look forward to performing anywhere in France having performed the most number of live concerts there and whilst my preference is to compare the music scene in general as opposed to limiting it to Afrobeat, music appreciation in general, is very much alive and real all over France. Ruth Tafebe & The Afrorockerz Holly Warriors album is one of my favourites, and I also discovered Les Freres Smith, I know Nazaire ( Afrobeat No Limit) who spear headed Fela Day events in Paris and invited me over from London to participate between 2008 and 2013. Ghetto Blaster which featured ex Egypt 80 colleagues Ringo Nicholas Avom, Kiala Nzavotunga and Chief Udoh were one of the 1st Afrobeat bands to be based in Paris too. Cheik Tidiane, the great Dr Tony Allen and Manu Dibango all chose to be based in Paris how is possible not to want to be part of the scene. With the amount of music and dance music festivals coupled with the diverse musicality of the artistes presented consistently over the years, it is always a big buzz for me when an opportunity to perform in France materialises. From my memories of touring with Felas Egypt 80 in the 1980’s and Femi Kutis Positive force in the 1990’s, out of a 30 day spring, summer or autumn tour in Europe, we would have at least 20 of the dates in France with one in Paris twice a year. So compared to London, it has alwayd been a vibrant scene and will continue to be. Meanwhile London/UK was rumoured to be the graveyard of African musicians when I first arrived. If you want to thrive go to Paris I was told. But I persevered with consistency and determination to forge ahead in building a solid and consistent afrobeat foundation with a great family of musicians from diverse backgrounds but a great love for Fela and Afrobeat. So both scenes cannot be compared but really appreciated in my opinion.

-Ness Radio : From 1979 to 1986 you played with Fela’s Anikulapo-Kuti’s Egypt 80. How did you meet him and can you share with us one or two amazing memories you have with the black President?

-Dele Sosimi : Femi Kuti introduced me to his father Fela around 1978/79 and it was magical.The story is quite long so I will save it for my memoirs. An amazing memory: Fela was touring in France around 1982/83 with Egypt 80 and had a day off in Paris. He asked for the local live gig listings and on learning Mungo Santa Maria was playing at the New Morning, decided to go watch the concert. By the 3rd song Fela was so inspired he got on stage and joined the performance on tenor saxophone to the delight of the audience and the members of Egypt 80 who chose to accompany him that night. Its one thing to see a Fela and Egypt 80 performance but to see him sit in unrehearsed with a legend like Mungo? That was an experience of a life time for me.
Fela Kuti & Egypt 80 – Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense (Live at Glastonbury, 1984 with Dele Sosimi)

-Ness Radio : Tell us about the musicians of your impressive orchestra and your latest album on Wah Wah 45s, I had a talk with a member of Eparapo who told me he was also in your orchestra ?

-Dele Sosimi : The core members of my Orchestra are: Femi Elias on Bass Guitar and Double Bass who has been writing music together with me since high school(1980/81) and since he moved to the USA usually now replaced by Suman Joshi circa 2008 (Founder of Eparapo, member of Collocutor & Afrik Bawantu) whom you spoke to. His debut album released by WahWah45s called Take To The Streets features me on From London To Lagos, Black Lives Matter and Who Invented Black And White. Kunle Olofinjana on Drums & Backing Vocals, (Drummer for Nigerias reggae stalwart Ras Kimono & Late Orlando Julius), Justin Thurgur on Trombone, (Bellowhead Tony Allen) Tamar Osborn on Baritone Sax (Founder Collocutor, member plays with Sarathy Korwar, Akram Khan & Eparapo) Nick Walters on Trumpet (Riot Jazz, The Beats & Pieces Big Band & Eparapo) and Afla Sackey on Congas, Percussion and Backing Vocals (Ibibio Sound Machine, Lincoln Orchestra, Eparapo & Afrik Bawantu), and Eric Rohner on Tenor Saxophone(Shrizz & Maze) Lydie Alberto Singer/Dancer is Paris based and was part of the Broadway Musical Fela! Cast in London.
Eparapo – Follow the Money (feat. Dele Sosimi)

-Ness Radio : With so many collaboration under your belt , you are always keen to explore , I am a big fan of Lokkhi Terra meets Dele Sosimi – CUBAFROBEAT album . A true all Star project ! How did this project see the light , did you go to Cuba or was it recorded in London ?

-Dele Sosimi : The Cubafrobeat line up are a group of London community based musicians who became friends here in London, with lots of love and respect for each other and have been part of keeping the traditions of Cuban music and Afrobeat alive over the past two decades. All the recordings released till date were done here in London. We have started working on new music and are kick start 2023 with a sold out show at Ronnie Scotts in London.
Lokkhi Terra Meets Dele Sosimi – CUBAFROBEAT

-Ness Radio : Let’s go back to Nigeria with the Positive Force Years ! I remember as discovering in 1995 the amazing album « Wonder Wonder »that was out on Motown ! it seems that you had much more musical freedom with Femi Kuti?

-Dele Sosimi : I would prefer to say my musical journey post Femi Kuti and the Positive Force years have been very educating and I have evolved slowly but surely to where I am currently at today due to my musical enviroment.

-Ness Radio : Afrobeat is huge all over the world, Burna Boy is a super star , there isn’t a country that doesn’t have at least 4 bands playing that music, when you started to play this music did you think it would grow that way?

-Dele Sosimi : I never thought along the lines of grow that way or super star. I am just enjoying the processes of creating, teaching Afrobeat at Trinity Laban (Where Fela studied music in London) and at Cardiff University School of Music and performing.

-Ness Radio : You have been keeping the Afrobeat torch in the UK for so many years, Tell us about your Jazz Café parties and Dom Servini who is also Dj resident there ?

-Deler Sosimi : I have had the pleasure and honour of performing at the Jazz Cafe since 1999/2000 and was delighted to actually kick start 2023 with celebrating my 60th birthday there (sold out) on the 22nd of February 2023 with a 3 hour live performance featuring guest musicians/friends from my early high school musical years. Singer song writer Ola Onabule on vocals, Femi Elias on Bass, Femi Okuwobi on Vocals to mention a few. Following that we launched the Dele Sosimi and the Estuary 21 EP on the 15th of April, also two Cubafrobeat dates on the 20th of June & 23rd of November, and a late club night show with Joe Claussell on the 22nd of September (His Turbulent Times Remix presentation) and I am actually kick starting 2024 by playing there again on Wednesday the 17th of January with Dom as the Dj before heading to Paris on the 18th of January. So yes Jazz Cafe has been and remains a home to me and I never get tired nof playing there.

DJ Ness Afro who will be the Host Deejay for the New Morning put together this playlist called
A Musical Journey with ‘Dele Sosimi’ The Afrobeat Ambassador :

Concert New Morning : Tickets
By DJ Ness Afro

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