FELA! The Musical Comes to Chicago February 19-23

UntitledMusical legends Nas, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Ziggy Marley and Smokey Robinson have already led standing ovations at Fela!, a musical that has thrilled audiences across the country.  Now, Fela! returns to Chicago’s own Arie Crown Theater from February 19-23 with a limited engagement of six astounding performances while in the Windy City.  In addition to members of the original Broadway cast, the 2013 tour features Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child.

Presented by Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Will Smith and Jada PInkett Smith, FELA!—a celebration of the life of music pioneer Fela Kuti—has received 11 Tony Nominations including Best Choreography, Best Costumes and Best Sound. The musical has been touring the world, with recent runs in Washington, DC and Detroit. Tickets are available for the 2013 tour dates here.

With the blessings of the Kuti family, the show opened in 2009 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on Broadway. With Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith coming on board as producers and ?uestlove of The Roots as associate producer, over the next 15 months, Fela! played host to half a million people. Celebrity guests at the musical have included Madonna, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington, Ben Stiller, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Sting, Harry Belafonte, Spike Lee, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé Knowles, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and First Lady Michelle Obama.

In 2010, prior to leaving Broadway (the show came back last summer), Fela! saw a sold-out season of performances at London’s prestigious Royal National Theatre and was nominated for numerous Olivier Awards. The original Broadway cast spent two weeks in Lagos, Nigeria with the opening performance at the Kuti family’s New Africa Shrine, and was the centerpiece of last year’s Holland Festival in Amsterdam.

The show has gained huge acclaim for the music community. Talib Kweli and Mos Def have shared the stage with members of the cast of FELA! in San Francisco. Check out the video of the event here. Rapper Nas called the musical “very important work,” and Kanye West found the production to be “inspiring” (he also invited the entire cast to a Watch The Throne show following the performance). The legendary Stevie Wonder was spotted at opening night of FELA! in Los Angeles last year, where he harmonized with Fela dancer Jacqui Dubois on an a capella number. See the video here.

As swarms of celebrities take to the theatre to profess their love of and influence by the Afrobeat pioneer and First “Black President,” Fela Kuti, Knitting Factory Records continues to release rare recordings and special editions of Kuti’s work, in addition to new albums by his sons Seun Kuti and Femi Kuti. Over the past several years, Knitting Factory Records has reissued the entire Fela Kuti catalogue digitally and on CD, and has released one vinyl boxed set, curated by ?uestlove of The Roots. Last year, a second vinyl boxed set was released in addition to a number of rare and live recordings, as well as a cover of Fela Kuti’s “Lady” by tUnE-yArDs, Angelique Kidjo, ?uestlove from The Roots and Akua Naru, with proceeds going to AIDS research. Knitting Factory Records is also in the process of reissuing recordings by Kuti’s cousins, The Lijadu Sisters, which have been unavailable for almost three decades. Fans can purchase these releases and more at Fela.net.  Check out the cast recording here.  More info at: www.felaonbroadway.com .

Knitting Factory Records’ parent company Knitting Factory Entertainment (KFE) currently presents the tour in Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle and more cities to be announced. The entire US tour includes 17 cities and over 75 performances.

About Knitting Factory Records

Initially founded in 2002 as an offshoot of the celebrated Knitting Factory club in lower Manhattan, Knitting Factory Records, along with the new Knitting Factory club in Brooklyn, was reborn in 2009 with the acquisition and re-release of the Fela Kuti catalog. KFR also encompasses the catalogs of Instinct Records, Shadow Records, Shimmy Disc and Evolver Records. In partnership with Partisan Records, a Brooklyn-based artist-run label, Knitting Factory Records strives to honor the music of an eclectic array of relevant artists drawn from both the past and present.

About Knitting Factory Entertainment (KFE)

Under the direction of CEO Morgan Margolis, KFE operates the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn alongside venues in the Pacific Northwest (Boise, ID, Spokane, WA, Reno, NV and Missoula, MT) in addition to producing live events nationally in arenas, summer amphitheaters, theaters and clubs. KFE ranked number 15 in the Pollstar 2011 Year End National Top 100 Promoters Ticket Sales and number 28 in the 2011 Year End Worldwide Top 100 Promoters Ticket Sales. The company operates The Federal Bar and Bow & Truss restaurants in Los Angeles, CA in addition to partnership interests in other properties.  KFE also has a management division. Knitting Factory Records, along with its partner, Partisan Records, manages recorded music catalogues, releasing content in all formats as well as music branded DVDs and High Adventure Management, handles the careers of emerging and critically acclaimed recording artists both in the US and overseas.