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Jay-Z and Will Smith-Funded ‘Fela!’ Snags 11 Tony Nods

The Jay-Z and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith-funded musical ‘Fela!’ was nominated for a whopping 11 Tony Awards when the nominations were announced early Tuesday (May 4). The production, based on the life of Nigerian musician-turned-activist Fela Kuti, received rave reviews when it opened at New York’s Eugene O’Neill theater on November 23, 2009, after a brief run off-Broadway in 2008.

Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Bill T. Jones, and bought to life from the book by Jones and Jim Lewis, ‘Fela!’ received a major financial boost when rapper-turned-entertainment mogul Jay-Z and the Smith power couple backed the project.

Along with Best Musical, ‘Fela!’ received nods for Best Book of Musical and its star, the “Everybody say yeah yeah” chanting Sahr Ngaujah, was nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.

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