Fans of the Nasher Museum have probably heard of Nigerian afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, but, unless you are in a circle of crate-digging music aficionados, this is probably the first time you’ve heard the name William Onyeabor, electro disco funk recording artist and fellow countryman of Kuti. Active in the late-70s and early 80s, and now a born-again Christian, Onyeabor has essentially shed his funk past and holds his personal history close to his chest.
Despite the shroud of mystery, for the first time an official compilation of Onyeabor’s LPs has been released and they find a cozy home on David Byrne‘s world music label Luaka Bop. NPR First Listen has summarized the strange trajectory of this musical pioneer and points out that the album’s title—Who is William Onyeabor—is a question that never really gets answered. What they skip over, perhaps because they don’t have the handsome 3xLP edition, is that the record sleeves feature art that was hand-selected by Nasher Museum Chief Curator Trevor Schoonmaker.
John Akomfrah & Trevor Mathison
Odili Donald Odita