WME’s Legends division focuses on estate and legacy brand management with the objective of managing and growing the legacies of artists and brands. Kuti, whose music was celebrated in the 2009-2011 Broadway musical Fela!, died of complications related to AIDS In 1997.
The WME Legends team will manage Kuti’s name, image, likeness, as well as life, IP, music and publishing rights across WME and parent company Endeavor’s departments and companies worldwide in partnership with the administrators of Fela’s Estate.
Specifically, the agency says, a focus will be on projects to grow the estate’s legacy for a new generation via a definitive scripted biopic, expansion of the Fela! stage musical franchise, previously unreleased masters and unpublished songs, licensing and merchandising along with commercials, endorsements and more.
WME Legends also represents the estates of Notorious B.I.G., Andy Kaufman, Eartha Kitt, Waylon Jennings, Peter Tosh, Charlie Sifford and Ram Dass’ Love Serve Remember Foundation, as well as the iconic New York punk/new wave club CBGB.
Formed in 1898, WME is the longest-running talent agency. In 2009, William Morris Agency (WMA) merged with Endeavor to become one of the leading entertainment and media companies with an unparalleled list of artists and content creators. In 2014, WME acquired IMG, the global leader in sports, events, media and fashion, forming Endeavor.
Kuti is widely regarded as one of Africa’s most influential musicians who paved the way for an explosion of African music, particularly through his creation of what would come to be called Afrobeat, a music genre that blends West African rhythms with American funk and jazz. His music has been sampled by Beyonce & Jay-Z, Burna Boy, Missy Elliott, J. Cole, Alicia Keys, and Mos Def.
During the course of the negotiation with WME, the Kuti’s Estate was represented by Olajide Oyewole LLP, a member of DLA Piper Africa.
Greg Evans is a New York based Broadway Editor with The Deadline which he joined in 2017 from Bloomberg News, where he was the TV and Film critic. He previously was a staff editor and/or reporter at Variety, Daily Variety and TV Guide Magazine. His features and criticism on arts and entertainment have appeared in the New York Times, Vulture, Slate, Newsweek, Yahoo News and Guitar World Magazine.