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Fela Kuti’s Genius Lives ‘On & On’ Through Erykah Badu On ‘The Tonight Show’

The multi-talented, multi-faceted and multiple GRAMMY Award-winning Ms. Erykah Badu continues to surprise and delight, whether she's performing her own music or giving up her limelight to pay homage to others. Take her recent visit to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The analog girl in a digital world stopped by to promote a new Fela Kuti collection, Fela Kuti Box Set 4, that she personally curated. Of course, she couldn’t stop by without performing some music. Taking a little bit from column A and column B, the singer gave us a fusion of her debut hit “On & On” and Fela’s 1977 song “Sorrow Tears & Blood.” Backed by the Legendary Roots Crew, the singer gave an unforgettable performance that paid homage to the memory of Fela and his music.

Decked out in a long blue coat, extra-huge bronze earrings that looked like Wonder Woman’s bracelets, pink eye makeup and her hair in thin twists like the Cynthia doll from Rugrats, the living legend paid homage to the dearly departed Fela. Now, for anyone who has heard Mr. Kuti’s “Sorrow Tears & Blood,” you know it’s not just your standard 4-minute track. It is a journey into Afrobeat. However, Badu and The Roots had no problem adapting “On & On” to the track, taking the same lyrics but switching up the delivery. In addition to the vocal gymnastics on display and the instrumental ingenuity of Questlove and company, we also got a taste of a vibrant dance performance as a dancer dressed in a similar garb to Kuti in his heyday paraded around the stage.

It was a surprisingly well-done mash-up that showed just how versatile Ms. Badu can be and how legendary Fela truly was.


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