I am Titus Fotso and I bring to you the UniverSoul Sound System. The soul in UniverSoul is my soul, Titus Soul, hammered in the fire of Africa’s forge.
I am Titus Fotso, a man of Africa, a child of Cameroon, a survivor of abuse and family violence. I am the youngest of ten children by my mother. My father has six wives, and I have thirty-four sisters and brothers. We are Bamileke, and my tribe has over 3,500,000 individuals. In my tribe, men own their wives and children and are free to treat them with the heart or with the fist.
My own mother is a princess, and yet her own son, my older brother, the abusive man who raised me from 9 to 16 years old, put a gun to her head. My mother is a lioness; she found her voice and fought back against her abuser. My mother’s cries, her suffering and her courage, her song and her strength are in my soul and in the heartstrings of UniverSoul Sound System.
My brother was a sadistic monster who made my young manhood a living hell. But I bless him for he was the force against which I pushed when I fled the tribe to find my life.
In my new life, my name was Jimmy Titus. No longer was I physically abused as I worked to become a dancer, a song writer, an artist, but abuse comes in many forms. In the city of Yaounde as Jimmy, I battled corruption, graft, betrayal and theft even as my passion for music lifted my spirit up into my first imaginings of the UniverSoul Sound System.
Yes, I traveled and toured the US with the National Dance Company of Cameroon, in 1994. I was discovered in 1997 by American producer-choreographer Debbie Allen during her intensive casting of the movie Amistad, and began working with her as an actor, dancer, assistant and associate choreographer. Then I toured the nation as a master dance teacher and performer with the Debbie Allen Dance Institute and I was the original faculty member at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Culver City, California.
I was blessed to be the 1999 winner of the John Lennon songwriting contest in the World Music category with my song "Spirit Dancer”. In 2009, I toured Europe as the choreographer for the Circus Afrika! Afrika!, created and directed by Andre Heller.
Yes, I have risen in the light of music and dance. I came to America and reclaimed my rightful name. I am Titus Fotso. I came to live in the Land of the Free where I thought I was safe from the abusers in my family, my tribe, and the corrupt music industry of Yaounde. I came to Hollywood, which I once thought was so wonderful that the name was “Holy-wood.” But there, too, friends betrayed me and tried to destroy my bliss, which is music and dance.
There is so much evil in the world! I suffered abuse as a child, and I have been shaped into a man by dark forces. But in Maya Angelou’s immortal words, “Still I rise!”
The UniverSoul Sound System contains and embraces all of humanity, both shadow and light. These songs are to end abuse, to expand the soul of the people with rhythm and joy. One world, one love, one UniverSoul Sound System.
My name is Titus Fotso, and I am a Citizen of the World. I have survived all to bring to you my soul, my vision, my music and my dance.
I welcome your friendship, support and to a joyous performance of the UniverSoul Sound System!