Grooving to Greatness: Ezra Collective Takes Home the Mercury Prizemusic,jazz,Britishmusic,EzraCollective,MercuryPrize
Grooving to Greatness: Ezra Collective Takes Home the Mercury Prize

Grooving to Greatness: Ezra Collective Takes Home the Mercury Prize

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Jazz Band Ezra Collective Makes Impactful Trip to Lagos

By | October 26, 2023

Ezra Collective’s Performance at the New Afrika Shrine

The genre-hopping London group, Ezra Collective, recently made a significant trip to Lagos, Nigeria, ahead of their upcoming performance at the Royal Albert Hall. The band’s bandleader and drummer, Femi Koleoso, described his experience in Lagos as “something even greater than the Mercury prize.” The band had the privilege of performing at the New Afrika Shrine, a renowned venue that pays homage to Fela Kuti, the pioneer of Afrobeat music.

The band’s connection to Nigeria runs deep, as Koleoso’s parents, who were originally from Nigeria, introduced him to Fela Kuti’s music at a young age. The fusion of Afrobeat and jazz ultimately became the foundation of Ezra Collective’s unique sound. Their music not only pays tribute to Kuti but also incorporates elements of hip-hop, salsa, dub, and reggae, creating a modern and distinctly British blend.

Making Positive Social Change Through Music

While Fela Kuti used his music as a platform to address political issues, Femi Koleoso believes that Ezra Collective can create positive change in a different way. Rather than advocating specific political actions, Koleoso emphasizes the importance of individual action and community support. He tells the story of working at a youth club attached to a food bank and witnessing the devastating effects of poverty and youth violence.

Koleoso’s approach to addressing these challenges is rooted in personal responsibility. Instead of solely relying on political solutions, he encourages individuals to consider what they can do to make a difference in their own communities. He plans to continue supporting youth clubs and engaging with young people beyond his success with Ezra Collective.

Furthermore, Koleoso believes that music itself can be a powerful catalyst for change. He states, “A good bassline and a drumbeat puts everyone on the same page. And when you’ve got everyone on the same page, you can achieve change.” He envisions the transformative power of music, exemplified by the unifying effect of Fela Kuti’s iconic song, “Zombie.”

The Journey of Ezra Collective

Ezra Collective’s recent accomplishments reflect the growing recognition of the UK jazz scene. Their album “Where I’m Meant to Be” won the prestigious Mercury Prize, an achievement that Koleoso describes as a beautiful moment on their journey. However, he sees this accomplishment as just a stepping stone and emphasizes the band’s ongoing commitment to their music.

Their upcoming performance at the Royal Albert Hall is a milestone for the band, as they will be the first jazz act to sell out the main auditorium, transitioning from playing the 200-capacity Elgar Room. This achievement is a testament to their growing popularity and the expanding appeal of contemporary jazz.

Conclusion: Music as a Catalyst for Change

Ezra Collective’s trip to Lagos highlights the power of music to connect cultures, inspire change, and create positive social impact. Femi Koleoso’s personal connection to Nigeria and Fela Kuti’s music exemplifies how music can shape one’s identity and serve as a catalyst for artistic expression. Koleoso’s commitment to his local community and belief in the influence of music reflect a philosophy of individual action and community support, offering a different approach to addressing societal challenges.

As Ezra Collective continues to captivate audiences across the world with their vibrant and diverse sound, their journey serves as a testament to the enduring power of music as a force for social change.


Grooving to Greatness: Ezra Collective Takes Home the Mercury Prize
<< photo by Alexander Shatov >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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G'day, mates! I'm Greg Buckley, and I've been reporting here in the land Down Under for the last 15 years. I'm all about sports and culture, so if there's a footy match or an art exhibit, you'll likely see me there. Let's give it a burl together, Australia!

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