London, 20 November 2020
TRINITY LABAN ALUM FELA KUTI HONOURED WITH PLAQUE AT GREENWICH SITE
Trinity Laban alum Fela Kuti – afrobeat pioneer and political activist – was honoured today with a commemorative plaque. Part of the Black Plaque Project and Trinity Laban’s Black Culture 365 programme, the temporary memorial was installed at the conservatoire’s Faculty of Music at Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich.
At the installation were Dele Sosimi, musician and Musical Director for Fela Kuti’s Eypt 80, Trinity Laban’s Director of Music Havilland Willshire, Founder and Producer of Black Culture 365 Juliet Jackman, and Nubian Jak Founder Dr Jak Beula. Kuti’s son Femi and grandson Made sent a message of thanks and support from Nigeria. Like his grandfather, Made Kuti is also a Trinity Laban alum, having graduated in 2018.
Fela Kuti (1938-1997) studied composition and trumpet performance at Trinity Laban (then Trinity College of Music), arriving in 1958. He went on to become one of the World’s best-loved performers, pioneering the Afrobeat sound which continues to be a major influence on today’s charts. Through his music and his activism, Kuti also became a leading figure within Nigerian and pan-African politics.
The commemorative plaque is part of the Black Plaque Project. A partnership between Nubian Jak Community Trust and Havas London, the project aims to redress the balance of commemorative blue plaques in London, of which only 1.6% currently represent Black people. The project sees the temporary installation of 30 plaques remembering key Black figures, their contribution to history and connection to the capital. The public is invited to visit the plaques and find out more, with an interactive map available at blackplaqueproject.com.
Speaking at the installation, Dele Sosimi said:
“Words fail me. I am buzzing, I am glowing, I am so proud. It’s a lovely thing… I feel like the plaque represents my joy and pride. Fela was a live and let live guy, he had so much love and respect for art. He was a true artist. He always said to me ‘it’s all about holding down the groove’ so as his rhythm pianist, I always held the groove. Right from day one, I was hooked. I teach afrobeat here at Trinity Laban, so to see this here, now – hopefully it will encourage more students to participate in afrobeat and spread the horizon of up and coming musicians.”
Trinity Laban’s Director of Music Havilland Willshire said:
“At Trinity Laban, we are enormously proud that Fela Kuti, who made such great achievements in music and in politics, is one of our own. It is fantastic to be able to honour him in this way: it is recognition that is overdue and well deserved. The timing is synergistic, as we recently launched Trinity Laban’s year-round commitment to celebrating Black history and art, Black Culture 365. It is a pleasure to celebrate Fela, and all of the inspirational figures that the Black Plaque Project honours.”
The Fela Kuti plaque will be on site at Trinity Laban’s King Charles Court for three weeks.
Video message: https://youtu.be/9vKHYqd9EDw
About Trinity Laban
Trinity Laban is London’s Creative Conservatoire: an internationally celebrated centre of excellence, offering world-class training in dance, music and musical theatre. Trinity Laban identifies, supports and develops a diverse intake of talented performers and creators, wherever they may be found and throughout their creative lives. The supportive atmosphere, outstanding landmark buildings and innovative curriculum at Trinity Laban instil technical excellence and enable creativity to flourish, transforming those with potential into resourceful, enterprising and adaptable artistic leaders. Trinity Laban also provides exciting opportunities for the public to encounter dance and music, and to access arts health programmes. www.trinitylaban.ac.uk | @trinitylaban
About The Black Plaque Project
African and Caribbean community organisation Nubian Jak and creative agency Havas London have teamed up to create The Black Plaque Project: a new initiative to commemorate the rich, diverse contributions of Black people throughout history through a series of black plaques across the capital.
London’s famous blue plaques have served as a permanent tribute to Britain’s notable men and women since 1866 – yet only 1.6% of those honoured in this official way are of African or Caribbean descent. Often ignored or discriminated against by the establishment during their lifetime, many historically significant individuals continue to be excluded posthumously. Their names, and the important contributions they made to society, are at risk of being forgotten or even erased from history forever.
To raise awareness of this imbalance and do something visible to address it, The Black Plaque Project will see specially designed black plaques installed on buildings across London to celebrate the lives of some of its many notable Black residents – who, despite their achievements, continue to be officially overlooked. www.blackplaqueproject.com