Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Afro-Noize Part 2- Sila and the AfroFunk Experience

FREE DOWNLOAD - Sila and the Afrofunk Experience - Black President

Since the death of Afro-Beats founder Fela Kuti over a decade ago the genre Fela helped create and form has gained more and more exposure in the United States every year. When Antibalas released their first record in 1998 there were a handful of Afro-Beat bands in existence Stateside. Everyday more and more ears are picking up on the infectious grooves, so much so that nearly every city and college town in the country has their own ambassadors of Afro-Beat or Afro-Funk. Very few however find a way to sonically elevate their music beyond mere homage to the originator.

Sila and the Afrofunk Experience have been making a reputation for themselves in the Bay Area and beyond for several years by playing remarkable live shows that have a unique combination of Afro-Beat and American funk with just the right amount of pop music sensibility to make a case that they might be the band that takes Afro-Beat to the American masses. It is easy to see why when you look at the remarkable components of the group; led by Victor Sila, who was born in Kenya and early in his life heard James Brown and decided he wanted to sing. The Afro-Funk Experience is a 9-piece band of Bay Area funk all-stars. Sila himself is a distinct frontman, singing in Swahili and English, swaggering with confidence without braggadaccio, he uplifts the audience to a higher plane during his live shows while the band takes off into a world that sounds like Parliment-Funkadelic landed the Mothership in Lagos!
Look out for the new Sila and the Afro-Funk Experience album to drop in May.

Sila and The Afrofunk Experience Homepage
Sila and The Afrofunk Experience Myspace

Guest blog post from Señor Oz

As a child growing up in a small village in Kenya, Sila remembers tuning in to a shortwave radio for the latest pop offerings from the West. By way of a faint, crackling radio signal, Sila first became acquainted with the guttural howls and shrieks of the Minister of Funk.

“One of the first James Brown songs I remember hearing on shortwave radio was ‘I Feel Good.’ Growing up very poor in my village and having a song like that play on the radio was very inspiring,” Sila, 32, says.

His exposure to James Brown, along with such artists as the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, inspired Sila to pursue music, which he says was far from a well-respected profession in Africa.

Despite his career choice, his parents supported his decision and sold cows and goats to raise money for his send-off to the U.S.
Sila’s pursuit of musical stardom was met with the heartbreak of rejection and he eventually found himself lost, an imposter of sorts, singing pedestrian pop tunes while trying to mask a heavy Kenyan accent.

It wasn’t until he stumbled upon a sold-out show by African artist Baaba Maal at the Fillmore that he realized he needed to change course.

“This was the first African artist I saw in concert singing in his own language. He was so full of life. This was the most touching experience for me and I was almost in tears. I had really forgotten who I was,” he says.

Embracing his African roots and his love of funk, Sila channeled James Brown for inspiration and six years later, with the help of his renowned cast of bandmates, he’s achieved success without having to compromise his heritage (he sings in both Swahili and English) or his musical tastes.

“James Brown has always been someone who’s influenced me quite a bit. From his perseverance to his political life and his very poor background, it’s all been an inspiration to me. … His determination and the fact that he never gave up — I see that in me,” Sila says.

“When I came here I never imagined I would sell out venues and entertain people in a way that James Brown entertained me. Believe me, I’m not saying I’m the next James Brown, but I do feel he’s in the soul of music.”

Sila sings of the African experience: the problems he and many others face every day, in a language understood throughout the world. His lyrics and beats reflect the music, the language, the energy, and the spirit of growing up in Africa.

Sila is backed by Mike Pitre on trumpet, Andre Webb on trombone, David Boyce on saxophone, bassist Wendell Rand, Bennie Murray on drums, guitarists Ken House and David James, djembe player Karamba, and talking drum player Samba Guisse.

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