Gantt Center explores music, message of Fela

If you attend the award-winning musical “Fela!” during its Feb. 25 and 26 run at the Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, the play’s infectious music and dancing will be more than enough to satisfy. But to add meaning to the music, you need to know something about artist and activist Fela Kuti, the subject of the high-energy show.

“Fela: From Abeokuta to Broadway — a Panel Discussion” at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture on Feb. 15, will explore the man behind the musical, a figure whose Afrobeat rhythms carried a message about the quest for social justice in his Nigerian home that resonated across the globe. “My generation lived on his music,” said Dr. Akin Ogundiran, chair of the Africana Studies Department at UNC Charlotte. “You can listen to it and dance, but when you really pay attention you don’t want to dance, you want to listen to the words. When it’s finished, you are either angry or you are sober.”