Rhapsody in Black

Composer Fela Sowande is considered the father of Nigerian art music

Sowande worked as a composer for the Ministry of Information and the BBC in London. Public domain

Rhapsody in Black - Fela Sowande


download audio

June 23, 2022

Composer Fela Sowande was introduced to classical and church music from an early age. His father was an Anglican priest and a pioneer of Nigerian church music. While Sowande was successful as a musician, he moved to London in 1934 to study civil engineering. Ultimately, his love of music won and he would go on to work for the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and Kent State University.

Musical selections from Fela Sowande


This work is a perfect example of Sowande combining his youth education in classical and church music with the music of Nigeria and other African nations that influenced him throughout his life.

African Suite for String Orchestra: III. Akinla

This movement of the African Suite is a folk melody from Southern Nigeria. The suite as a whole not only represents his African heritage but his nostalgic memories of an African in England.


Host: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu

Producer: Dan Nass

Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship

Executive Producer: Julie Amacher