Help Document Nigerian Music with “Elder’s Corner”

The world of music is an almost terrifyingly large place that grows and dimishes (in almost equal measures) with time. As cultures change they both shed and develop styles and, unless older genres are documented, they run the risk of vanishing into the historical ether forever — even more so in cases where musical instruction is passed on almost entirely through oral instruction. Elder’s Corner, a documentary that understands the need to capture nearly bygone eras of music, is a film that is working to combat this problem by archiving the last of a generation of hugely influential Nigerian musicians.

The project is spearheaded by Siji, a British musician, producer, filmmaker and son of Nigerian emigres. Over a year spent in his ancestral home, Siji (along with a small film crew) captured roughly 30 hours of interviews footage with some of the nation’s most notable musicians and began to craft Elder’s Corner. The movie has been shot throughout a number of Nigerian cities, with a particular emphasis on Lagos, and features discussions with the songwriters and players responsible for founding and propagating musical styles like Afrobeat, Highlife, Juju, Apala and Fuji — all genres that have continued to have a large influence on contemporary artists.

Beyond its considerable worth as a piece of musical history, Elder’s Corner also functions as a record of Nigeria itself, chronicling the country’s tumultuous (last half century) of self-rule. Because art is always created within the context of a given time, place and prevailing culture, Siji’s documentary is full of first-hand accounts of a people still reeling from the after-effects of centuries of Western colonialism and the political instability that resulted from its emancipation. Elder’s Corner is, ultimately, the story of many modern African nations, looking just as much at the effects of cultural as political imperialism.

Even though a substantial chunk of the movie has already been shot, Siji needs to return to Nigeria for an additional six months of work to finish the project. The $20,000 required will go into filming further interviews across the country, shooting and recording live performances and offsetting various other production expenses (like location permits, equipment rentals, etc.). Anything beyond the $20K minimum will be put toward releasing a film soundtrack, securing rights to archival footage, legal fees, post-production expenses and other sundry costs. Kickstarter pledgers are eligible to receive any of a number of excellent rewards in return for their generousity. Elder’s Corner donation tiers include smaller gifts (like digital downloads or DVD copies of the finished film and t-shirts) to more elaborate ones (like special thanks in the credits, hand-carved Nigerian talking drums, tickets to the documentary’s New York City premier and more).

Elder’s Corner‘s Kickstarter page has a trailer that will most likely do a much better job of showing you why you’d want to donate to the project than I can so head on over here to watch it. Siji’s music is also available through his official page or Vimeo channel. Elder’s Corner will be funded on Monday, October 31st at 3.00pm if its $20,000 goal is met on time.