I'm sure by now you've heard about the musical Fela! starring Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams. The musical based on the life of late Nigerian music pioneer Fela Kuti is a three time Tony Award winning play produced by Jay Z and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Thursday by way of the historic Fox Theatre, Fela! opened to a packed house and a bustling red carpet including lead cast member Adesola Osakalumi. Atlanta's bustling entertainment scene was also on hand to support the cast. Celebrities such as Ludacris, Kandi (Real Housewives of Atlanta), Demetria McKinney (House of Payne), Marlo (Real Housewives of Atlanta), Comedian Rodney Perry, Monifah (R&B Divas), Darrin Dewitt Henson (Soul Food), Jasmine Guy (Different World), Chanita Foster (Football Wives), Arrested Development, Q Parker, cast members Sharlinda, Kahdijha, and Brie (Big Rich Atlanta), Pat and Rayah Houston (The Houstons: On Our Own), AOA students, Fred Williams (Coach of Atlanta Braves), and Congo recording artist Innossb, hit the carpet to give support to the creator of afro beata blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies.
From the moment the show opened the music ignited the audience with thunderous dance moves and spell bounding rhythms. More than just music, Fela! tells the story of Fela Kuti who used his creation of afro-beat to propel his human rights activism into the spotlight. Kuti was influential in using his music to put the spotlight on any injustice or corruption thus drawing attention to the perpetrator and Adesola Osakalumi did a great job in showcasing Kuti's strength. Osakalumi portrayed through his powerful delivery how Kuti openly assailed Nigeria's corrupt and oppressive dictatorships.
Cast member Michelle Williams as the most recognizable person in the musical did a stand up job in her role as Sandra Isadore. Williams shined on stage. Her delivery was magnetic and the songs showcased her voice perfectly.
Highlights of the show included Fela's (Adesola Osakalumi) humorous interaction with the audience. Osakalumi's stage presence was captivating as he kept the audience's attention with his subtle and not so subtle punch lines and insistence on the audience moving to the beat of the drums. All in all Fela's opening night in Atlanta, Georgia proved to be an appropriate close to Black History Month and a must see.
Story by Stefanie Newell
Tenitra Michelle Williams (born July 23, 1980), commonly known as Michelle Williams, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. Williams rose to fame in the 2000s as a member of R&B girl group Destiny's Child, one of the best-selling female groups of all time. Her work has earned her several awards and accolades including a Grammy Award and star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with Destiny's Child, a solo MOBO Award, and nominations in the Stellar Awards and NAACP Theatre Awards. She has also been honored by the American Society of Culture Critics for her contributions to music and theater.
During the hiatus of Destiny's Child, Williams released her debut solo album Heart to Yours which topped the US gospel album chart and became one of the best-selling gospel releases of 2002. Also a critical success, the album won Williams a MOBO Award for "Best Gospel Act". Billboard ranked Williams as the fifth Top Gospel Artist of 2002. In 2004, she released Do You Know which gained Williams a second nomination for "Best Gospel Act" at the 2004 MOBO Awards. After Destiny's Child's disbandment in 2005, Williams released her first pop album, Unexpected in 2008, which spawned the internationally-charting single "We Break the Dawn" and the US Dance number-one "The Greatest".
Furthermore, Williams has found success as a television, Broadway and West End theatre actress, gaining a nomination for best "Lead Female Actress" in 2008 at the 18th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards. Making her acting debut on Broadway in Aida she has since starred in the sitcom series Half & Half and the productions; The Colour Purple, Chicago and What My Husband Doesn't Know. Furthermore, she was a featured judge on MTV's Top Pop Group and Gospel Dream and a contestant in series 8 of Strictly Come Dancing.
Source: Wikipedia 2013.