Lionel Loueke enchanted audiences with his trio's exuberant Miller Theatre debut in 2011. Loueke grew up in Benin playing traditional West African music and went on to study jazz in Paris and the U.S., an eclectic background that can be clearly heard in his adventurous music, which blends traditional jazz styles with electric synthesizers, African kora and kalimba sounds, and percussion. "For me," Loueke explains, "the guitar is many instruments in one and has unlimited potential."
Kevin Fellezs is an Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia University, where he shares a joint appointment in the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. His work focuses on the relationship between music and identity. His publication, Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk and the Creation of Fusion (Duke University Press), was considered the most accomplished monograph of the contenders. Fellezs’ books frames fusion (jazz-rock-funk) music of the 1970s with insights drawn from ethnic studies, jazz studies, and popular music studies. He has also published articles on African American musicians in heavy metal and enka (Japanese popular music genre) and Asian American jazz musicians.