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Africa Oyé have revealed the headliners for their 2023 festival taking place this summer in Liverpool.
The Saturday of the two-day free festival will see dancehall and reggae artist, Tanya Stephens close proceedings, whilst the Sunday will be headlined by Seun Kuti – son of the legendary afrobeat star, Fela Kuti – with his band, Egypt 80.
Following an incredible 30th anniversary year in 2022, one of Merseyside’s most picturesque green spaces will once again be filled with the music and culture of Africa, the Caribbean and the Diaspora, for two free days of live music, workshops, DJ stages, food stalls and a range of traders in the Oyé Village.
Seun Kuti is the youngest son of legendary Afrobeat godfather and political activist, Fela Kuti. As well as his unprecedented influence on music across the continent, Fela was prolific in his opposition to the corruption of Nigerian government officials and the mistreatment of Nigerian citizens.
At the age of nine, Seun started performing with his father and his band, Egypt 80, and continued to do so until Fela’s untimely death in 1997.
Seun, then only 14 years old, assumed the role as leader of the band and has ever since followed the political and social ethos of his father. Along the way, he began to add his own twist to Fela’s music, digging deep into various African traditions to reflect the continent’s struggles and cultures. He has since toured the world many times as Seun Kuti & Egypt 80.
About three quarters of the current Egypt 80 line-up consists of musicians that not only played with Fela Kuti, but often were arrested and harassed for their activism, alongside the founder of the Afrobeat movement.
Tanya Stephens has been lauded as one of Jamaica’s “most gifted songwriters” (Reggae Vibes Magazine), with her compositions receiving critical acclaim and comparisons to legendary names like Bob Marley.
Refusing to be limited by labels, Stephens expresses a deliberate intention to live outside of the box creatively and socially, and she covers the widest range of topics and expressions in her music.
Lauded as one of the “top female artists in Jamaica” by The Washington Post, Tanya speaks of partying, heartbreak, social change and human rights violations with equal comfort and dexterity from previously voiceless perspectives.
Boldly exploring social issues not often addressed in her genre, Stephens has urged fellow artists to be more socially responsible, and has regularly spoken out against the objectification of women and homophobia in dancehall lyrics and the promotion of bigotry. Her song “Still Alive” deals with discrimination against people with HIV, and was used in a television campaign dealing with the issue.
Africa Oyé 2022 (Mark McNulty)
Oyé’s Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney, said “It’s fantastic to have two headliners for this year who have never played the festival before and who really know how to put on a show. Closing the days with a female reggae star as acclaimed as Tanya and then a performer of Seun’s lineage is going to be really special.”
Beginning over three decades ago in 1992 as a series of shows in the city centre, the Africa Oyé Festival has evolved into one of Liverpool’s most beloved annual events, attracting artists and attendees from across the world.
One of the most popular areas of festival, The Oyé Active Zone – which hosts free multi-arts workshops across the whole weekend – will return this summer, alongside a brand new Toddler Zone, catering for the youngest festival goers, and the acclaimed DJ stages Trenchtown and Freetown.
Africa Oyé’s two DJ stages will feature once again in Sefton Park (Photo: Mark McNulty)
More main stage artists are set to be revealed soon, along with news on the festival’s Oyé Introduces programme which sees up-and-coming local talent showcased on the line-up alongside the international heavyweights.
The festival’s commitment to being ‘free and open to all’ also means that the Access Tent, British Sign Language on-stage translators and Access Viewing Platform will also all return for this year’s extravaganza. Those wanting to support the festival and help keep the event free and open to all and can do so by donating via africaoye.com.
This year’s Africa Oyé festival will take place on June 17th and 18th 2023, in Liverpool’s Sefton Park from 12:30pm til 9:30pm both days and entrance is FREE.