Formed in 1998, the Brooklyn-based music collective Antibalas has shared its dynamic afrobeat and funk sound to thirty-five countries and over 1000 performances. From humble beginnings in Brooklyn block parties and community benefits, Antibalas has since been featured at prestigious festivals including Coachella, Glastonbury, Montreux, Newport Jazz, and at venues from Rikers Island to Carnegie Hall.
Drawing on musical lineages steeped in jazz, funk, Afro-Caribbean, and West African music, Antibalas is widely recognized for its mastery of and innovation in the afrobeat musical form created in the early 1970s by Nigerian composer/activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Recently, Antibalas opened 2009 at Carnegie Hall, as part of the Tibet House Benefit. After performing original material, they backed Grammy-winning Beninoise singer Angelique Kidjo and Vampire Weekend. Later that month, Antibalas met the Roots head-to-head in the Red Bull Soundclash in Boston. In June 2009, the two bands joined forces with Public Enemy to recreate the classic album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” live at the Roots Picnic in Philadelphia. The horn section joined the Roots twice that summer on NBC’s Jimmy Fallon show with Public Enemy and Paul Simon.
In early 2010, the group made its first trip to Australia and New Zealand, performing at major rock, world music, and arts festivals as well as a cabaret show with DJ Gilles Peterson. In July 2010, Antibalas will tour the west coast, including a performance at Reggae on the River, coinciding with the rerelease of their “Who Is This America” album on Ropeadope, and a limited-edition 12” vinyl release of new material.
Antibalas members have also been at the heart of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical FELA! Born as a series of workshops with choreographer Bill T Jones in late 2006, several Antibalas musicians, including Aaron Johnson (musical director) and Jordan McLean (assistant musical director), and Stuart Bogie have helped create what associate producer Questlove has called “The most uncut funk production ever!” After a triumphant off-Broadway run, the show launched on Broadway in November 2009 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, with Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith as executive producers, attracting a cavalcade of stars including Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Sting, Robert deNiro, and Toni Morrison.
Antibalas musicians can been seen and heard with major artists across genres. Members of the group teamed up with the Dap Kings to create the grooves for Amy Winehouse’s multi-platinum “Back to Black” album and continue to work with producer Mark Ronson. The horn section is featured prominently on albums by TV on the Radio, Medeski, Martin and Wood, and won a Grammy for their work on Angelique Kidjo’s “Djin Djin” album. The group has also performed live with a diverse group of artists including Burning Spear, Baaba Maal, Sinead O’Connor, Gomez, and members of the FELA show.