tUnE-yArDs, ?uestlove, Angelique Kidjo, and Akua Naru teamed up to cover Fela Kuti’s, “Lady”, which was released on June 1st. The release of this single kicks off the (RED)Rush To Zero campaign, which is a 10-day campaign from the Red Hot project and (RED), is focused on ending mother-to-child HIV transmission by the year 2015. Raising funds and awareness for this cause provides hope for the possibility of the first generation of babies born without AIDS in 30 years.
The track has been updated from its original Afrobeat sound to a more current, while still genuine, representation of Fela Kuti’s style. All proceeds from the album go toward AIDS research. Fela Kuti, to whom the album pays tribute, died of AIDS-related causes in 1997.
Angelique Kidjo, a Nigerian pop singer, led the vocals on the track, while Akua Naru’s fierce raps transform Fela’s original message that put down the western world’s female influence on African women to that of a more general promotion of female empowerment. This was an important change for Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, who organized this remake of “Lady.” In a testimonial from tUnE-yArDs, she describes the original lyrics as “painful and sexist” and wanted the change to be something that everyone involved “could get behind”. This cover of “Lady” contains a positive message, reflective of the time and cause, a message of hope and female empowerment.
HeadCount partner, ?uestlove, of The Roots contributes both vocals and percussion to the track.
Fun Fact Side Note: On Friday, June 1st in New York City at Terminal 5, tUnE-yArDs urged the audience to get out and vote before encoring with “My Country“!