It was a glorious night at the Afrika Shrine, Ikeja Lagos on Sunday 14th May 2017 as Femi Anikulapo Kuti breaks the world record playing the saxophone on a single note for 51 minutes 35 seconds, using a technique termed Circular breathing.
(Watch the last five minutes below).
The King of Afrobeat is one of the few known Saxophonists around the world who plays using the Circular Breathing Method. “My father (The Afrobeat Legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti) taught me how to play the single note using a straw” says Femi Kuti shortly after achieving the feat. Ironically, Fela could not do it.
Kenny G, the famous American Saxophonist back in 1997 held the record for the longest note ever held on a saxophone when he held an E-flat for 45 minutes.
Kenny G however lost the record in 2000 to musician Vann Burchfield who went on to hold the note for 47 minutes, 5.5 seconds.
The challenge according to Femi Kuti started a few years ago while watching TV with some friends, then Kenny G was discussed and his record for the longest note was mentioned. Shortly after, friends and Yeni Kuti (Femi’s older Sister) joined in asking Femi Kuti to take up the challenge. For some unclear reasons, Vann Burchfield’s record was not in focus initially.
The first recorded attempt at beating the 45 minute record set by Kenny Gee started on Sunday 30th April 2017, by the time Femi Kuti was done, around 46 minutes, there were discrepancies in the timekeeping, the Star declared the first attempt null and void. Competition mode kicked in afterwards.
Sunday 7th May, Fans were in on it this time and fully. The Afrika Shrine had guests in attendance including a Nigerian federal Senator and Members of the Diplomatic Corps. Femi Kuti set off again doing the single note for 46 minutes 38 seconds.
Femi Kuti and Fans thought he had broken the record and there was celebration all around until someone pointed out the following day that American Vann Burchfield had gone over 47 minutes. From then on, Burchfield’s record was in Crosshairs.
@Femiakuti world record! @BBCAfrica @CNN @FelabrationNG @AFRIKASHRINE @MobilePunch @YeniAKuti @RealSeunKuti @Audu @wizkidayo @DeleMomodu pic.twitter.com/5rIGdp4VEK
— Afrobeat (@Afrobeat_World) May 15, 2017
14, May 2017 became the Big Day, at this time, the news had gone round and the celebration that was abruptly cut short was now replaced by uncertainty and a bit of anxiety. Will Femi attempt it today? A 54 year old man, to be 55 in a few weeks, can he do it? But again. Knowing Femi Kuti, anything was going to happen.
All preparations were made, this time there were cameras and super accurate Time Keepers. Femi got on the stage and went straight for it.
On the 50th minute, The New Afrika Shrine went agog. The celebration this time was real and felt good. Femi Kuti had done it and it’s there for the world to see. 51 minutes, 35 seconds. Its Congratulations from awefirm.org to the Legend, Femi Kuti. Let the Palm Wine flow…We celebrate.
The celebration backstage was simply electrifying as friends and family all gathered to celebrate an illustrious son. As we know, the story of life never ends now. On to the next challenge we march.
Bolaji Alonge is an Artiste, International Photographer and Blogger from Lagos, Nigeria who has been traveling the world for most parts of the last decade documenting exotic cultures, participating in experiences , Tourism, Networking, exchange of ideas and information that sometimes books and the internet do not offer.
-Bolaji Alonge (May 2017)
Photos By ARL for awfirm.org
Awefirm © 2017 . All Rights Reserved.
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Great Article! Beautifully Written Bolaji! Congratulations Femi!
Thank you so much, Mindy… Your kind words are very encouraging…
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