Biodun Kuti Performing on Paul Simon’s Farewell Tour

In 2013, Collaborating Artists Mark Stewart and Jamey Haddad — both members of Paul Simon’s touring band — were deeply impressed by the cohort of musicians they met at the OneBeat residency. In particular, one musician stood out to them both, Nigerian guitarist Biodun Kuti — in fact, after Jamey Haddad returned home from visiting the residency, he immediately and excitedly asked Mark if he could imagine Biodun playing in Paul’s band, “in some other dimension” or circumstance, he had said. Five years later, after the tragic passing of Paul’s longtime guitarist, Vincent Nguini, Mark and Jamey both advocated for Biodun to have a chance at joining the final tour. “There was a feeding frenzy — a lot of guitarists were hoping to get that call,” says Mark. “But Paul was ambitious, and he hoped to find a great African guitarist who could lend the gravitas necessary to be on stage left. And so he aimed high — and after awhile, the list came down to just two guitarists. The first guitarist was brilliant, and after spending three days playing with him, Paul said he didn’t know how anyone could do better than that. And then in walked Biodun. And there it was — within an hour, I think Paul knew.”

Read the New York Time’s review of the first show of Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound — the Farewell Tour” in Vancouver HERE.