In Memory of Musician and Activist Fred Ho, Here’s ‘West Afrika! Boogaloo’

By Jamilah King Apr 15, 2014

Composer, musician and activist Fred Ho lost his battle with cancer on Sunday and passed away at his home in Brooklyn. He was 56 years young.

Ho’s life’s work was centered on the interplay between Afro-Asian culture. Here’s more from his obituary in the New York Times:

Mr. Ho, who was of Chinese descent, considered himself a "popular avant-gardist." He was inspired by the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and by the ambitious, powerful music of African-American bandleaders including Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and especially Charles Mingus. But he rejected the word jazz, which he considered a pejorative term imposed by Europeans.

Self-reliance was a priority for Mr. Ho. He rarely played in anyone else’s band (among the exceptions were stints with the arranger Gil Evans and the saxophonists Archie Shepp and Julius Hemphill). Describing himself as a "revolutionary matriarchal socialist and aspiring Luddite," he never owned a car and made many of his own clothes from kimono fabric.

Three years ago, Ho performed "West Afrika! Boogaloo" at the Sanctuary for Independent Media. It’s a stirring example of the content of his work, and the legacy that he leaves behind.

A couple of months before he died, Ho sat down for an interview with NPR to talk about how, through his music, he "became a fighter." It’s a good summation of Ho’s career and his personality. Read more

(h/t Angry Asian Man)