Randy Weston . . . Philosophically Yours
Africa, the cradle of civilization, is my ancestral home, the home of my
spirit and soul. Africa has always been part of me, Africa has always been
deep in my psyche from childhood, and I knew I’d have to go there sooner
or later. In 1961 I ﬁnally did, and again in 1963—both times to Nigeria. Then
my sextet and I toured those fourteen countries in West and North Africa in
1967, and later that year I went back to stay. So many memories . . .
For me the most compelling aspect of African culture—North, South,
East, and West—is its music, magniﬁcent in its power and diversity, with
the “true drums”—African Rhythms—always at the heart. The music of no
other civilization can rival that of Africa in the complexity and subtlety of
its rhythms. All modern music, no matter what it’s called—jazz, gospel,
Latin, rock, bossa nova, calypso, samba, soul, the blues, reggae, even the
music of the avant- garde—is in debt to African Rhythms.
The rhythms came from all over Africa. I knew the rhythms were African,
but I didn’t realize how universally African they were until the 1967 tour.
Africans in nearly every country we visited claimed the rhythms as their
own, as typical of Ghana or Gabon or Upper Volta or Morocco; each African
country has its very own traditions.
Most of my compositions are about African people or involve African
themes. Every concert and even in my day- to-day conversation I’m speak-
ing about African people. I am an Africanist in every sense of the word be-
cause of my immersion in African Rhythms, the realization of which came
directly from my mother and father and goes all the way back to ancient
I have visited many countries, performed for thousands and thousands
of people, and I am blessed to have the power of music—given to me by
God—to spread our history, our creativity, and our music. And I’ve been
very fortunate that my audiences have received that sincerity and spirit so