tUnE-yArDs, Angelique Kidjo, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Akua Naru: Lady (Fela Kuti cover)

In an effort to bolster AIDS awareness and prevention, the (Red) organization is working with Red Hot on a campaign for "an AIDS free generation by 2015."  Out of this campaign, (Red) Hot + FELA has emerged, along with this cover of Kuti's "Lady," performed by tUnE-yArDs, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Angelique Kidjo and Akua Naru

All info is provided by Life or Death PR & Management.




MP3: "Lady" - http://soundcloud.com/knittingfactoryrecords/tune-yards-angelique-kidjo 

(RED)Music is a centerpiece of the inaugural (RED) RUSH TO ZERO campaign (June 1-10) to raise funding and awareness to help deliver an AIDS Free Generation by 2015, a critical milestone in the fight against AIDS. The virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is part of the eight Millennium Development Goals, which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS by the target date of 2015. To learn more please visit redrush.com.

As one component of the multi-faceted campaign, Red Hot has partnered with (RED) to work towards this lofty, yet attainable goal of an AIDS free generation. The Music of (Red) Hot + FELA speaks to and aspires toward this goal while also serving as a continuation of Red Hot's work and mission. To learn more about Red Hot click here.

On June 1, the first single from the forthcoming album
(RED) Hot + FELA will debut exclusively on the iTunes music store. The track - a remake of Fela Kuti's "Lady" - features Angelique Kidjo, tUnE-yArDs, Akua Naru and Ahmir Questlove Thompson and was recorded with producer Paul Heck at Converse Rubber Tracks studios. The track was recorded and mixed by Eli Crews (who engineered tUnE-yArDs' critically-acclaimed w h o k i l l). Listen to "Lady" on Pitchfork here. And don't forget to check in with OkayAfrica on Monday for exclusive behind-the-scenes video content.

The album,
(RED) Hot + FELA, will be released on Knitting Factory Records and pays homage to the music and spirit of Fela Kuti. It will be the first collaboration between (RED) and the Red Hot Organization, creators of a long running line of musically original compilations that benefit AIDS organizations, ranging from 1990's Red Hot + Blue (which featured U2 on Cole Porter's "Night And Day") to 2009's Dark Was The Night (produced by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National). (RED) Hot + FELA, to be released next spring, is the follow up to Red Hot's successful 2002 album, Red Hot + Riot, on which artists ranging from D'Angelo to Sade covered songs by Fela Kuti.

While many musicians would have required double-digit takes to capture the song, the final version of "Lady" is literally the second take, no pro-tools cut and paste - just amazing musicians playing live in a room. Questlove's drumming prowess anchored the session with Nate Brenner from tUnE-yArDs on bass, Luke O'Malley strumming the guitar and Ray Angry aka Mr Gold Finger playing keyboards. Backing vocals were provided by Merrill Garbus and her friends Patricia Preware and Antonia Hartley. The horn section features Stuart Bogie on tenor (Antibalas) and members of Rubblebucket: Alex Toth on trumpet, Annakalmia Traver on baritone and Adam Dotson on trombone. Lastly Miles Arntzen (Antibalas) played shekere and claves. Once recorded, Angelique Kidjo added fiery lead vocals and Akua Naru's deft rhymes re-contextualized the essence of this new version of "Lady".

The track's producer, Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, said,
"I wanted to reclaim 'Lady' for women in the world today, particularly African women, who will have an important role in ending the AIDS epidemic there. I was so happy to have the powerful Angelique Kidjo pour her soul into it, and then rapper Akua Naru wrote a raw, intense verse that perfectly extended and completed our vision of the song."

Like all of Fela's anthems, "Lady" has that thing - that mix of syncopation, swagger and audaciously satirical lyrics. In "Lady" Fela criticizes westernized African women who he felt had been corrupted by the new feminist movement of the time. Which is ironic considering Fela's mother was one of the most progressive women in all of West Africa at the time. Now, in the reinterpretation of "Lady" Angelique Kidjo and Akua Naru turn Fela's lyrics on their head. 

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