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The Beat Of My Drum: An Autobiography

By Tom Pryor

Babatunde Olatunji with Robert Atkinson
Temple University Press

The late, great Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji was one of the heroes of “world music” before the genre even had a name (or a dedicated bin at your local record store). From the early 1960s until his death in 2003, Baba preached African pride and the brotherhood of all races with a brand of intelligence, dignity and humility that touched anyone who had the good fortune to meet him. As a musician, performer and teacher he spread the word about Yoruba drumming (he was a master), and his legendary 1960s release Drums Of Passion, was many Stateside fans’ first introduction to African music. But Baba had one last trick up his sleeve before his passing: he wanted to record his life’s lessons for posterity. The result is an absorbing read that highlights his sometimes-forgotten role in the Civil Rights movement, as well as his groundbreaking musical career.