A Platform for Ethnically and Culturally Inspired Music
Femi Koya
South Africa

World Afrobeat music composer and performer, versatile saxophonist, and dynamic vocalist, Femi Koya is the new face of the African Renaissance. Combining West African highlife and jazz, South African Sofiatown with a nostalgic Afrobeat root sound, his music is a rich blend of deep and sultry Afrobeat and contemporary groove. He is urban and urbane. His life’s journey—a story of migration from the West to the South—resonates in his music, which creates a conscious dialogue between West African and South African sounds. This musical fusion demonstrates the path to a new and culturally integrated Africa in which a common heritage is reinforced to meet the needs of today's world. His quest is for African unity at a time when he believes Africa should claim its rightful and proud place in the world.

Femi Koya’s debut album “Just in Newtown” is evidence of the rich melodies that result from this fusion. Through his versatility on the saxophone, he breathes new life into African world music. “Iba,” meaning “Homage,” is the title of Femi Koya’s second album, which was launched in August 2015. The Iba album also calls for African unity and makes a plea for human rights to be respected. But the album also celebrates Africa’s love of life with infectious dance numbers that bring fans to their feet. His latest album “Village Afrobeat” was released on April 20, 2018. The songs depict nature, fertility, rituals, change of seasons, and traditions essential to village life. The album tells stories and tales of what happens in villages and especially fables with animals like the tortoise, the role of town criers, village men and women as part of the whole village lifestyle. He revisited a few songs on his latest EP “Ori Mi” and single “Iba” in 2019.

His musical influences include Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Manu Dibango, Hugh Masekela, Baaba Maal, and John Coltrane.

He has shared the stage with Youssou N’dour and Yvonne Chaka Chaka at the CAF (Confederation of African Football Awards) in Lagos and with John Legend on his first South African tour in Cape Town. He performed alongside the king of Juju music, Sunny Ade, at the Glo launch in the Republic of Benin. Other colorful festivals felt Femi Koya's acrobatic music, where he performed alongside Wynton Marsalis, Oliver Mtukudzi, Habib Koite, Salif Keita, and Baaba Maal. He has recorded with Simphiwe Dana, Pops Mohamed, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, and worked with Baaba Maal, Angelique Kidjo, Wizkid, just to mention a few.

Other events where Femi Koya has left his mark include the Joy of Jazz festival in Johannesburg, Jazz on the Lake JHB, Arts Alive JHB, Oppikoppi Festival in Northam, Mieliepop Festival in Lothair, Bush Fire Festival in Swaziland, Park Acoustics in Pretoria, Nubian Music Fest in Rustenburg, Africa Day festival in Johannesburg, Zakifo in Durban, Capital Craft Beer Festival in Pretoria, Rum festival in JHB, Rocking the Daisies in Cape Town, Smoking the Dragon festival in KZN, National Grahamstown Festival in Grahamstown, Plettenberg Art festival in Plett, and the Home Coming African festival in September, just to name a few.

Femi Koya sees himself as part of the new Africa on the move, where home is not just one place but a multiplicity of places and influences. He believes that Africa will have its true homecoming when people see themselves as first and foremost African. Until then, he will continue to make music suggestive of this homecoming and what the future holds if Africans unite. It is, he says, our destiny.
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