New School News

Fela! Feels Right with Aaron Johnson New School Jazz Faculty Member gets Tony Nomination

New School Jazz faculty member and trombonist Aaron Johnson has been nominated for a Tony Award in the Best Orchestration category for the smash Broadway hit Fela!, a biographical musical about the life and music of Afro Beat icon Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, directed by Bill T. Jones.

I am thrilled beyond words,, said Johnson, Fela!’s musical director about a nomination that circles back to his early training at The New School.

In fact, you could say that Johnson was raised at The New School. He began his musical education at the age of 7 at Mannes Prep and went on to study at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in the early ’90s with Arnie Lawrence, who helped found the school. Speaking of his academic and professional life, I am humbled to teach in a classroom that Arnie Lawrence taught me in.,

In 2000, Johnson joined Antibalas, a Brooklyn-based Afro Beat ensemble modeled after Kuti’s band. Kuti’s former manager Rickie Stern recommended Johnson to Bill T Jones.

There should be dancing in the streets. When you leave the Eugene O’Neill Theater after a performance of Fela!, it comes as a shock that the people on the sidewalks are merely walking. Why aren’t they gyrating, swaying, vibrating, in thrall to the force field that you have been living in so ecstatically for the past couple of hours?,, Ben Brantley wrote in his New York Times review last November.

Be sure to tune in on Sunday, June 13 at 8:00 p.m. on CBS for the Tony Awards ceremony.

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