Fela Anikolapu Kuti was as much a political figure in Africa as he was a musical one. His talents as a singer, composer, songwriter, and musician earned him worldwide acclaim. With his politically charged music Kuti pointed a finger at oppressive governments and fought for basic civil rights. Kuti's first experience in performance was under the direction of Victor Olaiya, a singer whose special style of music was becoming extremely popular across Africa. In 1969, Kuti ventured to America where he became strongly influenced by the US civil rights movement. On returning to Nigeria, he formed a cooperative called the Kalakuta Republic. He also opened a club called the Shrine and recorded numerous albums, including the Afro-beat classic Shakara (1972). Kuti continued to sing throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, and died on August 2, 1997, from AIDS-related heart failure. To the Pan-African world, Kuti was a giant figure who combined musical talent with politics to great effect.