|Talu Green was the percussionist and Djembe drummer for the|
Broadway musical Fela!. Photo from AllHipHop.com.
If you had a chance to see Fela! during its one-month stint Off-Broadway, two-year Broadway run, or two-year U.S. tour, you know that the rhythmic production of the revolutionary life of civil rights activist Fela Kuti is filled with music, dance, and contagious energy. Fela! was beloved and supported by theatergoers and received high praises from rappers and hip-hop musicians, including Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, and Questlove.
But Fela! wouldn’t quite be the hit that it was without one of its principal performers: Djembe drummer and percussionist Rasaan-Elijah “Talu” Green. Though Fela! directors weren’t looking for a Djembe drummer specifically when they brought Talu Green on as the musical’s percussionist, his African hand drumming experience brought a unique rhythm to the show. “With the musical director, it was kinda like trying to mesh the style that I play - which is a traditional West African style or Djembe - with this ‘Afro-Beat’ style that was created by Fela Kuti,” he told AllHipHop.com in 2012.
Talu Green’s performance in Fela! not only made the musical a hit, particularly among the hip-hop community, but gave Talu Green a chance to meet some of the biggest names in hip-hop music. He even received an invitation to record with Busta Rhymes.
Since Fela! closed, Talu Green has continued to perform through Talu Green Lion Falcon Ent. and taught Djembe and Doundoun drumming during the Art Saves Lives Foundation’s 2013 Summer Workshop. In fact, Talu Green was one of the teaching artists featured in the foundation’s Art heals, Art transforms and Art Saves Lives documentary, released in February 2014. Currently, Talu Green is playing percussion on Ms. Lauryn Hill’s Homecoming tour, which has included a performance on Late Show With David Letterman during the show’s Beatles Tribute Week and at Amnesty International 2014.