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Mom And Dad's Record Collection
1:28 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Santigold: 'Blown Away' By Fela Kuti

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 3:30 pm

All Things Considered continues its "Mom and Dad's Record Collection" series with singer Santi White, who's best known by her stage name, Santigold.

White says her father steered her artistic development by introducing her to the music of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti at a young age.

"My dad played so much music in the house, so much amazing music, and he was a huge fan of Fela," she says. "He even took us to see him when he came to Philadelphia. It was amazing."

White says she was struck by the women she saw and heard at that concert.

"I remember I was 7, and there were all these ladies onstage, and they didn't have tops on, so I was just amazed," she says. "I remember I came home and I was like, 'I can do the African dance!' and I, like, dropped to the floor. So, aesthetically, I was blown away already."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This summer, we're asking people for audio memories, music they discovered through their parents for our series, Mom and Dad's Record Collection. Today, the singer, Santigold.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: She's known for a unique blend of rock, R&B, soul and pop and for a strong female image.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: Santigold told us her sound was inspired by her father.

SANTIGOLD: I thought my dad was really cool for his music tastes because he was actually a lawyer, but he was so into music. And I think maybe, if he had a different upbringing, he probably would have been an artist. And he used to take us to the music store every weekend and just let us pick out music from age, like, six.

SIEGEL: We asked Santigold to tell us about one song that she remembers and she had an immediate answer.

SANTIGOLD: The song that I discovered through my father was the song, "Lady," by Fela Kuti.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LADY")

SANTIGOLD: My dad played so much music in the house, so much amazing music, and he was a huge fan of Fela and he even took us to see him when he came to Philadelphia. It was amazing. I remember I was seven and there was just all these ladies on the stage and they didn't have tops on, so I was just like amazed. I was like, oh, my gosh. And then they were doing these dances. I remember I came home and I was like, I can do the African dance, and I, like, dropped to the floor. So aesthetically, I was blown away already.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LADY")

FELA KUTI: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

SANTIGOLD: Just the sense of rhythm and the syncopated, you know, all the different parts coming in, then the (unintelligible). I think that's the type of thing that I innately was affected by.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LADY")

KUTI: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

SANTIGOLD: This song, also, in particular, I mean, when I was old enough to understand what was being said - because, you know, for years, I'd just sing along and not really think about it - but he's talking about women.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LADY")

KUTI: (Singing) African woman (Unintelligible).

SANTIGOLD: To me, it was kind of sexist. I figured this out and he was just basically saying that, like, Western women were not real ladies and real ladies, you know, don't wear pants and don't talk back and all this stuff. And I remember being like, well, I'm not that type of lady and I'm never going to be. You know, so I think that was one of the first songs where I really thought about what it means to be a woman and to figure out that I needed to find that for myself.

And, you know, especially as a musician, in the studio, in particular, it's a very male environment and you got to take control. You got to demand what you want. You got to be unapologetic. And those are the things that I think that makes a strong lady, so that song was an important one for me in so many different ways.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LADY")

KUTI: (Singing) I want to tell you about lady.

SIEGEL: This is the song, "Lady," by the Nigerian singer, Fela Kuti. It's the song remembered by the singer, Santigold, for our series, Mom and Dad's Record Collection. And we are collecting your stories, too. You can tell us about a memory of one song you learned about through a parent by going to NPR.org. Click on Contact Us and please put Parents Music in your subject line.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LADY")

KUTI: (Singing) (Unintelligible). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.