A DIFFERENT KIND OF MAN – A DIFFERENT KIND OF MUSIC!
Ben Okafor – “an evocative voice which serves to ENTERTAIN, EDUCATE and INSPIRE people all over the world.”
BEN 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 ntellect in conjunction with their artistic skills to express their views on world issues peacefully yet effectively.
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.
“By his 14th birthday Ben Okafor had seen more death and destruction than 50 Cent could witness in a lifetime. Rootsy Reggae for a worthy cause” BLUES and SOUL
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’.
“A refreshing and sincere spirit” THE VOICE
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.
“The man is a superstar, all it needs is for people to hear him and realize it” THE BEAT
SINGER / SONGWRITER / 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
POLITICAL ACTIVIST / 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)
Melissa Hartman of Roadsweeper Productions
Tel: +44 (0)7543 791434
Dated: March 12, 2009