Brazil’s Afrobeat awakening is nothing new. However, for Funmilayo Afrobeat Orquestra, claiming their space on the global Afrobeat scene is something revolutionary.
Founded in 2019, by vocalist and saxophonist Stela Nesrine and trumpet player Larissa Oliveira, the eleven-piece group emerged as the world’s first Afrobeat band composed of only black women, an all-women and nonbinary Brazilian band.
The name Funmilayo pays tribute to activist Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti, founder of the Women in Nigeria Association, a main figurehead in the women’s struggle for freedom and right to vote, and mother of the legendary Fela Kuti – the Nigerian musician who popularised Afrobeat.
“We wanted to reclaim black protagonism in Afrobeat. Since the majority of the current groups are led by white people, carrying out this project at the hands of black women adds meaning to the search for female protagonism in a musical genre that owes a lot to women.”
“We already liked Afrobeat a lot. […] We didn’t know much about it—we’re still studying it—but we thought it would make perfect sense.”
“We don’t want to worship Fela; we like Afrobeat and we will pass our message through it. We won’t necessarily have a bust of Fela in our house.”
More info on Africa is a Country / Bandcamp
See also: NegrAção – Abayomy Afrobeat Orquestra