About

Ben Okafor

A Different Kind of Man A Different Kind of Music New Single Coming Soon!! Reggae / World / African / Roots Socio – Spiritual Consciousness

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About Ben

Ethos

Ben Okafor is an internationally-acclaimed artist whose forte is the powerful use of his lyrical integrity and command over his multiple talents in music and the arts to communicate and educate. Ben is respected and renowned amongst his peers in his native Nigeria, USA, Europe and beyond. Ben has a sound reputation for empowering people to use their intellect in conjunction with their artistic skills to express their views on world issues peacefully yet effectively.



Discography Schedule

personal information

  • name:Ben Okafor
  • Birth Name:Benedict Chukwudebelu Okafor
  • Birth Place:Enugu, Nigeria
  • Location:UK Resident
  • Genre:Reggae/world music

Associated

Background

Early Years

Ben was born in Enugu, eastern Nigeria as 1 of 8 children, his music and early life were shaped by his experiences as a child as Ben was a victim of the civil war in Nigeria and at the age of 13, fought as a boy soldier.  The pain and destruction he witnessed during that period soon began to influence the lyrics he wrote, his songs reflecting a heart-felt plea for justice, truth and love. Ben’s earliest memories of music go back to live street performances of West African Hi-Life, street dancers and percussion bands in the market squares of eastern Nigeria. Ibo and European church music, alongside his mother’s enthusiasm for Miriam Makeba, combine with the later influences of James Brown, Jimmy Cliff, The Beatles and Rolling Stones, Fela Kuti and – inevitably – The Wailers. Ben’s sound is a combination of rich lyrical African heritage, classic folk protest and driving reggae beats which led to him winning the ‘Outstanding British Reggae Artist Award’.


Ben moved to the UK in 1979 and settled in the Midlands, quickly releasing two albums both produced by Bob Lamb of early UB40 fame. Ben’s commitment to social justice then later led to collaborations with ‘Amnesty International,’ ‘The Anti-Apartheid Movement’, ‘The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers’. Ben campaigned and toured as part of ‘War Child’ and ‘Make Poverty History’ always using the global language of music as his main tool. In 2006 Ben wrote the title track ‘Bemamou’ (Enfants Soldats) for the album ‘No Child Soldiers’ featuring African Artists including Alpha Blondy, Angelique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour and Salif Keita.

Musician

Ben considers his genre to be “Socio-spiritual consciousness.” This genre goes beyond song writing, composing and/or performing music and seeks to keep exploring the potential roles of the arts in our modern world. Ben has released 10 albums and his latest recording “Diverted Traffic” will be launched this spring (2009). Ben’s artistic accessibility and relevance has led to him performing in the UK, Europe, USA, India, Nigeria and South Africa at festivals such as Glastonbury, Greenbelt, Liverpool, Cheltenham, Bristol, The Cambridge Folk Festival, Irish Folk Festivals and headlined for the Refugee Week Festival (UK) to name but a few. Ben has toured the US performing at festivals such as Cornerstone.

 

"Ben Okafor is the kind of counter-culture renaissance man that denies lazy pigeonholing. Call him a reggae musician, an actor or a political activist and you just won’t catch the whole creative sweep of this passionate, articulate communicator and musician…"

CROSS RHYTHMS

Humanitarian

Ben Okafor is a man who passionately engages with the struggles of those least able to represent themselves. He is non-compromising in his fight for justice, peace and love. Ben takes this platform seriously and expects nothing less than excellence from himself. Ben is a man of stature and genuine spiritual sensibilities. Grounded in the certain knowledge that Africans will speak for themselves, Ben says, "I am convinced that we, Africans, will play an indispensable part in building tomorrow’s world. We are doing so even now. Africa will be united someday and speak as a collective – It’s our culture, it’s our heritage and it is our destiny".

 

"Well, for me personally Ben’s view on slavery goes beyond just standing and singing on stage. He was part of the artists called upon by famous Bishop of South Africa, Bishop Desmond Tutu to HELP FIGHT APARTHEID through his music."

SEGUN GILBERT (Music Director)

ACTOR / POET / WRITER

Ben’s acting career began in 1993 and he has since acquired a taste for it. Ben has been involved in theatrical productions ranging from original works to Shakespearean plays. Ben co-wrote and starred in "CHILD OF BIAFRA", a play about war and destruction and their effects on families during Nigeria’s civil war. Ben also wrote and directed the music for "AFRICAN SNOW" and performed in the play, "ROUGH CROSSING".

 

"Personally, I appreciate what Ben is doing to promote the eradication of ignorance about slavery and its impact on current and future generations. It would be a delight to see his work presented here to American audiences where attitudes to physical and mental slavery do not appear to be as passionate as they are in Europe."

JULIAN NEWCOM (Professor of Law / Washington State USA)

Discography

Diverted Traffic

Year : 2009

Nigeria's passionate campaigner for justice and consummate reggae-influenced practitioner of African music has returned with this impressive set and there’s rarely a dull moment on this disc, which is his 12th since he began recording in 1985.

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Child of Biafra

Year : 2007

Featuring songs by BEN OKAFOR from the stage production, ‘Child of Biafra.’ These songs reflect the origins of Ben’s musical career, his early childhood and his early journey through the fields and fortunes of war, and the influences of these experiences on his artistic and spiritual vocation to date. The musical arrangements and performances are poignant, earthy, acoustic-based and truly reflect the African heritage from which they draw.

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Acoustic Close Up

Year : 2006

A truly intimate and organic album featuring a wonderful rich mixture of musical styles, influences and textures that make up and shape Ben’s life and his music – all rooted around an acoustic base. Building from Ben and an acoustic guitar this magical collection of songs also feature keyboards, bass and drums and all kinds of wonderful and exotic percussion!

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Generation (Remastered)

Year : 2006

A deserved re-release of Ben’s monumental 1992 masterpiece. This edition is remastered and features newly recorded versions of 3 songs that were originally recorded just after the Generation sessions but until now have been unavailable in any form.

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Thing With War

Year : 2003

Featuring tracks not available on any of his albums. Because of Ben’s experiences as a boy soldier whilst growing up in Nigeria, 35% of the profits from this reggae/world music single goes to support the work of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. Go to the links page for details of their website.

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Coffee with Lazarus

Year : 2000

Recorded in the USA with producer Harvey Jones, this best selling album was hugely acclaimed by the critics. Packed with Ben’s trademark thought provoking lyrics, all wrapped up in the intoxicating fusion of reggae, African and world music that only Ben can produce. An album with class written all over it.

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Shadows

Year : 1998

An album Ben recorded exclusively for release on his own Nigerian based Roadsweeper Records. It features more earthy raw versions of songs originally featured on his ‘Nkiru’ and ‘Generation’ albums, plus two songs that are exclusive to this CD. We have the only very limited stocks of this album outside of Nigeria. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!

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See Me Now

Year : 1998

Following a gap of 6 years from his previous album, this EP features radio edits of 4 magnificent showcase tracks that went on to appear on Ben’s ‘Coffee With Lazarus’ album each in their full versions.

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Blood Brothers

Year : 2006

Ben joins forces with UK pioneering Christian folk singer/songwriter Garth Hewitt for this album which was released across Europe the same year as Ben’s own solo masterpiece ‘Generation’. As well as including 5 wonderful haunting OKAFOR tracks (the recordings of which are all unique to this album and some of which have never been included in any form on other OKAFOR album) Ben takes on the role of producer for this album and the musicians who feature on the album are all musicians who have played with Ben – so the Okafor effect is very much in evidence throughout.

Nkiru

Year : 1989(UK)/1991(US)

This is the critically-acclaimed album that really brought Ben to the attention of music lovers around the world and cemented his reputation as a class writer and performer of intelligent thought-provoking songs addressing the human condition. Originally released in the UK and Europe in 1989 the album was picked up in 1991for release in the USA. 3 of the tracks from the UK version were dropped and replaced with long time live favourite ‘World Gone Crazy’, the mighty ‘Man of Sorrow’ and ‘Filippino’. With this album Ben Okafor had truly arrived and had (musically) come of age. It set the benchmark for future releases.

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Downpressor Man

Year : 1986

This 4 track collection was Ben’s second release after arriving in the UK and his first on his own Crimson Flame label. His love and understanding of reggae radiates through the passion-filled cover of Peter Tosh’s ‘Downpressor Man’. Ben’s unique blending of Reggae with the African musical influence of his childhood were in evidence in the remaining songs – all OKAFOR originals, and in hindsight this EP laid the musical foundations for the following ‘Nkiru’ album which would see Ben’s music maturing fully with success and recognition around the world.

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Generation (Remastered)

Year : 1985

This was Ben’s debut release after arriving in the UK. Produced by Bob Lamb (who’s other production credits include UB40) and recorded at Bob’s studio in Birmingham the album was released by the now defunked UK label, Ears and Eyes. What is in evidence is Ben taking his first raw tentative steps in laying the foundations of that unique Okafor musical blend. Included in this album is the fantastic ‘Messiah Man’ which Ben still occasionally includes in present day performances.