We will unfortunately not be going to the Lagos Jazz Series this year. In the early hours of the morning Thanksgiving day, we mobilized the entire band and a three-person film crew and went to JFK International Airport several hours before our flight was schedule to depart, with flight itineraries for us provided by the festival.
We had all of our visas and passports together weeks in advance for all travel arrangements to be made, and arrived at the airport the day of the departure to find that the tickets were never paid for by the festival (as they should have been according to our contract). We spent the better part of Thanksgiving day at the airport with a back-and-forth with the festival personnel, and after several hours, they were unable to secure any flights for us so we had no choice but to turn around and get back to work.
This was a enormous disappointment. Performing in Nigeria has been a dream since before the band was even together. It has been an even bigger disappointment for our singer Amayo, who went to Lagos a few days in advance of the band to set up a show in his neighborhood in Ikeja as well as a show at the Afrika Shrine.
Despite this letdown, we remain hopeful that we will be able to get to Nigeria in the future under more stable circumstances and we send our deep regrets to all of our friends, family and fans who were looking forward to attending our performances in Lagos this weekend. We are deeply grateful to everyone in New York and Lagos for their tireless efforts in trying to make this happen.
It is an great setback for us, but in the grand scheme of things, and the history of Afrobeat music and the persistent and brutal adversity faced by Fela, his family, his band and his staff, this is but a minor bump in the road. We emerged from this trip without any loss of blood, no unfair jail sentences, no beatings, no confiscations or destruction of any of our equipment. We are privileged and lucky to be in this position. We send our love and solidarity to all the musicians in Nigeria and elsewhere for whom this type of chaos and disorganization is part of everyday life and who manage to persist in making a life in music despite all of this.
In honoring the legacy of the music and our commitment to the music and to each other, we will continue to move forward, with our sights set on returning to Lagos as soon as it is realistic.
This month we look forward to upcoming shows in Japan and NYC (12/30 & New Year’s Eve) where we will channel our creative energies and give you the best we have.