STANZAS STOLEN FROM TOGO: CATCHING UP WITH ELOM20CE

“Hands in pockets, Addis Ababa in the arms, I walk, swallowed by the night. Fallen for a moment, she is now comfortable on the new flower. On the sidewalks; shadows, bottles in hand, lazily waddle. The smell of sewage violently debates with that of coffee and incense that adorn these dark bars. The music that escapes them is strong. Bob Marley featuring Meiway and Dawit Frew Hailu. Mix of colours and scents shout to be heard. I let myself get sucked into a bar. A woman in the light of a candle as makeup. She smiles in the face of a mirror injured like Somalia. I put away some time for a beer: Habesha cold gold.”

These are words cut out from a real time chapter in the page of Elom20ce‘s(pronounced Vince) life as father, wanderer, contemporary griot and hip-hop afro jazz blender. He speaks to an Africa debating reformation like an emotional night buried in several happenings with a keen message for the subset of a germinating world of dreamers and branching alternative path scrapers:

“I come quietly to swallow me into another hole attracted by Burning Spear: Slavery days. Battle of Adwa to the Towers of Babel, what has really changed? I ask myself by fixing the photo of Emperor Haile Selassie on the wall. Dj minces his Khat with peanuts. Makes good reggae as not to let me go. Guiltiness to Mr. Cheeks of the Lost Boyz sauce was the icing on the cake. Tomorrow I take the road, I have to go, go bury my dead body. Night found me in these shabby streets, surrounded by more imperfect men who teach you life we do not learn in university. Taxi drivers, drug dealers, prostitutes, bouncers or corrupt cops … When the sun rises, find me under those trees, listening to the old men who speak to you of what the world has been, and perhaps will be. Life happens outside, away from the likes, lol, and lmao’s.”

During his travels earlier this month, touchdown: Somalia, he carves out a reflection of the mirage that is, displaced in the home of un-bandaged jaws of the economy in social space and a government with a walking stick patched at the wrong places:

“Stoning the sky, rain down angels. Pick up their rings and attach them to your heads. But the street remains deserted, populated by ghosts, pharaohs who are unaware …”

He plunged into the guts of Dakar in May and felt its entrails bleed concerns like a lost child finding himself but confused if what he beholds is really himself, is really all of himself or there’s the need to dig deeper, reach further, discover the hidden treasures away from a fraction of a disturbed past and the present story woven like a lace work of a labyrinth:

“The engorged land where landmines have been sown broadcast life. The fratricidal wars with uncertain future: Africa, a beautiful lady crippled, advances with dentures.. We spit lava! Let us not open our spirits to the vultures who have made their nests in our skulls and savor our brains to escape forever! Here, there, I saw the mentally disabled, face to face with their past, ruminating bitter memories, before vomiting endless sighs …but flowers are ephemeral, ancestral suffering …”

In Dakar, he spent magical moments sharing the stage with Keziah Jones and visual artists who immortalized rhythm; INA Makosi, JBJ Photography, Sopsiak Photography, aside DJ Cortega, Erwan, S’killaz, Mc Mo, Gislas, Dj Pol and Public. He as well had the honor to accompany a great guitarist on stage; Amen Viana a.k.a The Name at the French Institute later on in Togo with Adjo’a Sika Ajavon, Ali Bawa, and others.

“I have cleansed my feet on the mystical land. These places where pure souls tell stories that we listen quietly, breathing. I read on a wall in Ngor that small people are substantial people. They do not even have bank accounts. Some flowers have no fragrance. I walk by feeling, feet covered in blisters. Close your eyes if you want to see clearly. This is the night that the stars speak. Goree is not Ngor… All the warriors of light know that knowledge is more powerful than the economic and political powers…”

The artist’s second album Indigo turns 6 months and his message for all is simple: “Don’t agonize, organize!”

 

 

 

REBIRTH OF FELA: AS VILLY & THE XTREME VOLUMES DROP HUMANIMALS EP

The dominant scene of commercial music sees artists walk in and out each passing month with touted promise of longevity and consistency as it is easier to “make a hit” with technology-empowered mixing or sound mastering and internet-tweaked virtual social presence presently. This was not so a few decades ago when a legend like Richard Bona had to play several instruments for entire days and teach himself to read and write music till his breakthrough in 1989, when he began working with leading musicians; violinist Didier Lockwood and bassist Marc Ducret at the age of 22. We find a similar strain of dedication in Villy & the Xtreme Volumes; a Nigerian Afro Fusion group presently based in Ghana, as they count the results of about 7 years of getting the beam into their art.
hum

Over the years, African rhythms through stages of evolution have been used by performers to engage the realities of socio-political dynamics. Fela Kuti‘s timeless sway is a strong example, and it gets more interesting because Villy and his team have been compared on several platforms to markedly stand out with such momentum that reminds us that Afro protest music with substance is here to not only stay but make an impact. In a conversation, Villy, the leader of the band points out that; “the message is especially for the African mind. [It] simply questions everything about the world we live in today to achieve self realization as Africans. In this EP, I make myself an example of what I think in my own opinion the lay man should be- how to fight for his or her rights and also how to demand answers.”

Omonblanks, who works very close to the band discloses that, “it is an EP with 6 songs; Alarm, Runaway, Which Way, Humanimals, Wia My Moni and No Way.” A further breakdown by Villy was that; “they are connected as an interaction between the people and the various societies they live in-an institution of mind programming and control. So the idea is that we should understand that we are humans first before any other thing; statuses, political positions, religious leadership, rebels, terrorists, sinners, etc.” The group sounds like a construction of rhythms smearing African home-soaked vamps in cooperation with wild percussion and horns aside splendid vocals to form interlocking grooves.

The band shares their immense gratitude on their Facebook as follows: “We want to sincerely thank Kyekyeku for helping us record the EP on short notice, Kofi B-Ansah; our in-house sound engineer and collaborator, Mensa Ansah & Márton Élő for the dope sound engineering of the EP, Aimuan Ogboghodo for the cover art, Freeman Daniel Ame for vocal coaching, The Republic Bar & Grill for being our favourite test ground, Kunle for blessing us with his harmonica skills, Yetunde Orungbemi for the beautiful voice as well as Francis Kokoroko & Daniel Quist (The Grammy Voices) for their solid backup singing.
If you’re in doubt of the power of Afro jazz and fusion, let me remind you of Manu Dibango and how his Soul Makossa was sampled in Michael Jackson’s You wanna be startin’ Somethin’. It goes to say Villy & The Xtreme Volumes are actually starting something with their fresh EP full of juicy originality and guess what, it drops in a few hours from now!

ZOHRA OPOKU’S SOLO SHOW: SASSA AT GALLERY 1957

Zohra Opoku‘s solo show Sassa, curated by Nana Oforiatta Ayim/ANO shows at Gallery 1957 today June 9th 2016 at 4.30pm. The exhibition’s opening and performance which will leave you awestruck takes place in the confines of the gallery this afternoon and it is open to all and sundry.

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Sassa continues till 10th August, 2016. It explores the role of textile culture in the materialization of concepts beyond the individual’s corporeal reality. Based in Accra, and of German and Ghanaian descent, Opoku’s versatile work expands across installation, performance and lens-based media. Her indepth examination of textile culture considers fashion’s political, psychological and socio-cultural roles in relation to both African history and individualistic or societal identities.

In Sassa, the artist draws on her month long stay in the Ashanti region of Ghana – as part of a recent residency with the cultural research platform ANO – as well as her past portrait series, in order to explore cultural philosophies, trajectories, and aesthetics across the country. As Nana Oforiatta Ayim, founder of ANO and Creative Director of Gallery 1957, explains: “through the exploration of the Ashanti concept of sassa – described by art historian Ladislas Segy as ‘the soul that can also lie outside of the body and that flows through all things’ – Opoku’s work is in constant interplay with this notion of the unseen and the immanent.”

One of the works include an Ashante queen mother’s cyanotype prints which were printed in Zohra’s garden under the sun on bed sheets which were given by her grandmother. The content involves sun-prints, video, collages, mixed media and collected sounds with a DJ Stelo collaboration in the creative mix.

A month ago, Zohra indicated on her Instagram that she was working on four images of Akan queen mothers she had visited in the Ashante region and these works had been sun-printed for her upcoming show.

Accra[dot]alt crew will be speaking at the event at Gallery 1957 in Accra ‪about the upcoming Chale Wote festival‬ and the concept of engineering new imaginations through collapsed myths and histories. Essentially gearing us up for the Spirit Robot vibe of the festival this August in Jamestown. Join the family at 4:30pm.

We look to the future to more collaborations inspired by Zohra with DJ Stelo, Theresa Ameka and Nana Osei. It is intriguing and inspiring to see artists build on the contemporary process with crunchy African cultural information driven by human connections in the process of making their works- from the production to the realization stage, even through the mounting and checking of lighting, discussions of projects and so on.

Zohra with her always calm focused self tells us “I’m always enjoying the different layers of Accra’s creative scene and preserving those good energies for times when I will be away from Ghana.”

SCENES FROM GNAOUA AND TWO AMAZING GHANAIAN MUSIC ICONS WHO MAKE US PROUD: KYEKYEKU AND BLITZ

Take a ride with us on camel backs or let’s just trek into the magical cosmopolitan Sahara dunes that Moroccan spaces offer. From the hazy or hippie surf turfs to the very tops of the Atlas mountains where the  laced or loose intricacies of untold magnitudes explode, merge or conform to the country folk life remote from the sophisticated scattering of urban strife, there’s one thing you can’t miss there- nature’s glow! Kyekyeku; splendid guitarist, profound palm wine high life brewer, producer and ideas man from Ghana explores these otherwise less known stretches and sums the still stir in a few lines: “high up in the Atlas mountains of Morrocco, lies beauties of untold magnitude; misty mountains, cascades and riverines. Berber villages on cliffs and minarets of earth perched on rocky pedestals. I had to make a stop and say a prayer!”

Kyekyeku on the Atlas altitudes

It’s mostly a sleepy fishing port plus whitewashed houses decorated with the trademark blue window shutters that make up Essaouira, but in June annually, the town swells to accommodate half a million people thronging in to experience the Gnaoua World Music Festival. This year U.S.-based Ghanaian hip hop mogul known to “send messages through committed texts;” Blitz the Ambassador, was one of the main artists adding colour to the festival. Also a producer, songwriter, singer and percussionist, Blitz who was born in Accra, Ghana has developed his art into a force with an incredible energy on stage, aided by a groovy band that sounds like an Afro-ethereal classic jazz and Motown fusion music movement. Other amazing artists on the bill were Christian Scott, Hassan Hakmoun, Songhoy Blues, Las Migas, Omar Sayid, N3rdistan, etc.

See original image
Blitz the Ambassador at Gnaoua Festival. photo credit: Hakim Anthony

How far away is contemporary high life from hip hop? We identify the transformations through migration, collaborations and the African rhythm inspirations that are significant and common in both Blitz and Kyekyeku’s work.

Even the food and fashion affects human connections one way or the other. Kyekyeku documents his experience in Morocco with photos, reflections and texts. “From Marrakech to Essaouira, I have fallen in love with Morrocco; steeped in colourful history, music that actually has offshoots of my forefathers in Gnaoua, clothing that inspired Yves Saint Laurent and food that graces the taste buds;” he says.

Kyekyeku and the “Essaouira massive”
Kyekyeku and the “Essaouira massive”
a camel load of cheers

Kyekyeku shares his personal experiences with us in layers where we find a civilization built over the years out of influence by a mosaic of traditions, a labyrinth of colours, design and oppidan textures aside a spiderweb of the tang of colonization: “In Essaouira, I see a bit of Elmina in my home [country]; Ghana, which means Portugal left an aftertaste here as well. The connections are endless, a complex network that connects us all together from the past through this present and into the future.”

Presently, the artist is in performance and collaborative residency with the collective; Framewalk touring Düsseldorf and Prague and can’t wait to return to Ghana for homemade fufu, the Stanbic Bank Jazz Festival, and preparation for his Europe Tour this summer.

graffiti artists give the best gift one could think of to a supportive community

a team of graffiti artists hit the jamestown streets and added some inviting hue to their walls between the 6th and the 8th of may. it’s such an admirable gesture of making such decorous art in the jamestown community with a project they call meeting of styles but most importantly the collective left a mark of embedding motivational statements and symbols like freedom, pain-gain, teshie-rise, etc in the spirit of revival or positive progressive activation for those who come into contact with the work.

it’s not really clear who among the creative lot brought up this great idea, but it’s certainly crystal each of the vibrant and prolific street artists participating in this genuinely ingenious activity of giving back to the people living in spaces usually termed as urban slums have left some inspiration which will live after their names. over the years in ghana, graffiti has grown in popularity as a very catchy street art form and neighbourhoods as well as art festivals and events have seen the magic via the splash from the guts of spray cans.

“[it is] an introductory graffiti art event by the ghanaian crew; ghana graffiti. the crew is set to challenge societal defects using street art as a medium to communicate with the citizens of a disturbed biome. altering physical spaces with thought-provoking and creative content for social change and aesthetics is the function of the crew even as the members individually address various topics of a changing world. the graffiti crew hopes to be an artistic body of exclusively street artists pushing ghana beyond corridors;” ian kwakye; a digital graphic artist and entrepreneur from the street style virtuosi collective who put together meeting of styles expounds.

the global art village has seen the unprecedented influence and commercial success of street artists over the years. one can easily identify whiz kids banksy or shepard fairey who is also the founder of obey clothing. the overall implications for urban art across board has shifted from an era where they drew controversy due to their methods of display; to presently where we find forms like graffiti being used to add taste to private property. now, we bear witness to how the channeling of iconographic street art opens new platforms and possibilities for expression of ideas for youth from ghana and beyond.

illustrator and visual social commentator, also from the meeting of styles project; bright ackwerh, describes the work as “an overture of a sort to a series of social engagement graffiti/mural projects by several artists who express themselves with the graffiti/mural/street art medium in ghana.” the integral group is made up of friends and long time collaborators moh awudu, kali, deff, ian kwakye and himself.

the project looks to be a mobile entity to convey this spirit of dynamic science to spaces they identify and subsequently occupy with their vibrant incentives to awaken the people and motivate them. “the main idea is to go to different spaces and leave them inspirational messages via the artwork and the interactions we have with the people from the space;” bright reiterates. “also, the people of jamestown are dear to us because for the last 6-7 years they have opened their space to the art community of ghana and that place has become an artist haven as much as a socio-political historic site;” he continues.

jamestown has been the home of west africa’s biggest street art festival; the annual chale wote festival which comes off in august- 18th to 21st this year. the festival has opened doors for the youth from all corners to collaborate, capture and consolidate fusions, new forms of craft and experimental installations and performances and looks forward to break its previous record of bringing together more than 20,000 people in 2 days to indulge, observe and document street art from ghana.

bright expands the theme he worked on and relates it to the general disposition of the population as well as the drive of the collective, by saying: “however we felt the space wasn’t developing as much as it could. The mental drive there is pretty strong but not strong enough to cause quick change to the environment. my piece kw3: teeshi rise is my message to the space, like: wake up! get up! realize you are so low you are killing yourself. learn, come out of your yourselves and fly! teeshi is ga language loosely translated as rise. i borrowed the literary aesthetic from accra[dot]alts usage of names like dzala butik (he laughs). I feel if we really want to feed someone, we digest the meal to their ingestion level and give it to them because at this point our fervor is to see them eat.”

aside street art’s ability to transcend the subversive and enter the accepted mainstream, don’t we find it interesting here as it’s amiably being used as a tribute to a community which has supported the growth of a contemporary language and voice of the aware youth?

ibrahim mahama on gentrification, uneven distribution of resources and the state as a ‘terrorizing figure’

ibrahim mahama was born in 1987 and is currently pursuing a phd in the faculty of painting and sculpture at k.n.u.s.t., kumasi, ghana. he is one of the youngest but as well one of the most exposed artists in the contemporary art exhibition and market worlds from sub saharan africa, having represented at last year’s 56th international art exhibition; venice biennale which ran from 9th may to 22nd november 2015 with the largest or most ambitious piece of work out of bounds.

this month of may has seen him visiting khib academy in bergen, norway and dusseldorf to give presentations on his work.

Untitled
ibrahim mahama, untitled, 2014, coal sacks, 183*213cm. photo credit: saatchi galléry

his works are stitched patchworks of sprawls  made from jute sacks which are imported by the ghana cocoa board from india or bangladesh for the use of bagging cocoa but later re-purposed for bagging charcoal, rice, millet, vegetables or other commodities as market goods distributors find fitting. though international policies state that the sacks are supposed to be used to transport cocoa just once, the actual movement of the sacks on the market is only either dictated by who gets their hands on them and finds them useful for their purpose or the extent of their durability.

as such the traits of typical west african local labour system peculiarities like markings to determine ownership and control; example titling(names, abbreviations or locations) with indelible ink or paint on the matted brown surfaces of jute especially when these goods are going into storage or are being conveyed from one point to another so they are not lost is almost inevitable. do we find the irony in this practice as compared to tattoos on the bodies, usually inner forearms of these traders?

ibrahim’s style of presenting these sacks is significantly unique as if it is a lengthy overture of conjoined stories or a rendition of maps with no particularity on focus with regards to specific transit points or continuous entitlements. the occasional insertion of mass-produced wax prints from china is an additional layer of questioning and connection in theme since the whole package identifies one way or the other as an indirect vessel of portrayal of the global movement of goods.

as german-ghanaian contemporary artist zohra opoku would put it; “fashion negotiates a political and psychological role related to socio-cultural dynamics in relation to african history and individualistic or societal identities.” we find the connection in the politics of consumerism, aesthetic value and affairs of control that link individuals to their nationalistic entities. how do we identify that the goods we consume or push into the market do not have strings attached to one or more of concepts like neo-liberalism or appropriation, or is the consumerist market totally linked to equal weights of pendulums on each side regarding globalization?

ibrahim’s works have nuzzled external and internal part or full portions of museum exhibition walls, libraries, completed and uncompleted government-owned buildings, social places still in use like bridges, car lots, etc. in-depth, the work takes on the less discussed connection between the mechanisms of trade even at the less affluent local sector; taking into account the people involved who might either be skilled or unskilled, and the bloated world economy.

“construction has been very much a part of my work and i’m very much interested in public space;” the artist explains. the materials he’s worked with have evolved from plaster of paris also known as gypsum plaster to jute sacks, but there’s always been the presence of ‘bodies’, either functioning as a source for sculptural molds or as part of the production or installation process.

he’s been working with market porters locally called kaya who have a specific migration trail from the north of ghana to the south though “the entitlement of nationhood is bleak on them.” a sense of awareness about gentrification in his work’s detail is in sharp contrast with the element of collaboration during production that he identifies with. such critical discourse through art is not only timely but essential for any developing country.

though christo and jeanne-claude might be the pioneers of this field of ‘wrapping’, but ibrahim has grown his own niche of making patchworks come to life. we see the artist pointing in another direction when asked about motivation for his work;  “i’m inspired by le corbusier’s drawings.”

ibrahim sometimes takes his work to “abandoned buildings inhabited by social deviants”  and explains that “crisis is mostly a starting point for me. i’m not afraid to be robbed, etc. there’s always an attack one way or the other because i transport the people i work with to other spaces within this same country(referring to ghana) and people say they don’t belong here but no one belongs within a certain space.”

in terms of availability of space for artists for exhibition purposes and his personal experiences, ibrahim narrates that; “in the past, hotels provided their lobbies to artists to show their works. artists would criticize hotels for not giving them their spaces. you do not need a museum to do art. it takes very long negotiations to get space to undertake my work because they don’t really understand. the language of the work does not make sense to everybody. some think there’s a construction going on. there’s this building which had been there for about 50 years but people didn’t take notice of it till i covered it with jute sacks.”

even his style of documentation is unique and connected to his style of practice; “videos i produce from my work are collages. i don’t have a recorder on the device i use so it’s sounds from other spaces/occupations/experiences i fuse. drones have been catastrophic(in reference to their use in wars), but with aerial views they project a different perspective than cameras on the ground.”

photo via artist 

on what the government is doing to address the persistent gentrification aspect of things and uneven distribution of resources, mahama reiterates; “the state which is supposed to protect its citizens becomes a terrorizing figure. failure is eminent and embedded within the system and we constantly tell ourselves that things are working but nothing is really working.”

 

ghanaian traditional drummer to be the first african musician ever to have a u.s. university building named after him

Middletown, Conn.—Wesleyan University.   For the first time ever, a United States university building will be named after a traditional African drummer.  Abraham K. Adzenyah, recruited from the Ghana Dance Ensemble 46 years ago to teach at Wesleyan University, is retiring after training thousands of US music students, many of whom have gone on to teach traditional Ghanaian drumming and dance at other US colleges and universities.
 
American students of Professor Adzenyah have gone on to teach and run Ghanaian drum and dance ensembles at the Berklee College of Music, Brandeis University, The Hartt School of Music, Lehman College, Montclair State University, Mount Holyoke College, Oakland University (Michigan), Princeton University, S.U.N.Y. Binghamton, S.U.N.Y. Stonybrook, Toronto University, Tufts University, University of Alabama, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Yale University, and York University (Toronto). 
 
One of the top rated liberal arts universities in the United States, Wesleyan is known for its commitment to world music and faculty artists.  Mr. Adzenyah was on tour with the Ghana National Dance Ensemble in 1968 when he was heard performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City by the late Dr. Robert E. Brown, one of the originators of Wesleyan’s World Music Program.  Dr. Brown then recruited Mr. Adzenyah to teach traditional Ghanaian drumming at Wesleyan, in what became one of the top world music and ethnomusicology programs in the country.
 
“West African drumming has been one of the most important parts of our Music Department since the beginning of our World Music Program in the 1960s,” said Professor of Music Eric Charry. “And Abraham Adzenyah has been the pillar of the World Music Program, being here for so many decades and training so many of our students. He has been such a valued colleague within our Music Department. He has such breadth and depth of experience, and it’s just a pleasure to have had him around and for him to have offered the kinds of expertise that he does.
 
On Saturday, May 7, 2016 Mr. Adzenyah will be honored with multiple events on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown.  Starting at 4pma retirement ceremony will be held featuring the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly Rehearsal Hall), located at 60 Wyllys Avenue. 
 
 
Following the building dedication, there will be a free outdoor concert featuring traditional West African drumming, singing, and dancing from 4:30pm to 6pm in the Center for the Arts Courtyard, located at 283 Washington Terrace. The afternoon concert will feature dance-drum ensembles run by Adzenyah’s former students:  Wesleyan University’s West African Drumming and Dance Ensemble, Tufts University’s Kiniwe Ensemble with the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Kekeli African Music and Dance Ensemble, Berklee College of Music’s West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Montclair State University’s West African Drumming and Dance Ensemble with the Rhythm Monsters, and Ayanda Clarke ’99. The rain location for the outdoor concert is Crowell Concert Hall (located at 50 Wyllys Avenue).
 
The day of events will conclude with an all-night highlife dance party starting at 7:30pm in Fayerweather Beckham Hall, located at 55 Wyllys Avenue. The evening concert will feature the Abraham Adzenyah Tribute Band including Abraham Adzenyah MA ’79; David Bindman ’85, MA ’87; Wes Brown ’74; royal hartigan MA ’83, Ph.D. ’86; and Rob Lancefield ’82, MA ’93, Ph.D. ’05 performing highlife and beyond; Samba New York! founded and led by Philip Galinsky Ph.D. ’99, performing Brazilian samba; Okwy Osadebe Highlife Band performing Nigerian highlife; Berklee College of Music’s Afro Pop Ensemble performing African pop; Urban Renewal performing funk, R&B, and West African traditional and fusion music; and Ayanda Clarke ’99. Admission for the evening concert is $6 for Wesleyan students and $15 for all others. Tickets are available online at http://www.wesleyan.edu/boxoffice, by phone at (860) 685-3355, or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. Tickets may also be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to the performance, subject to availability. The Center for the Arts accepts cash, checks written to “Wesleyan University”, and all major credit cards. Groups of ten or more may receive a discount – please call (860) 685-3355 for details. No refunds, cancellations, or exchanges.
 
Wesleyan University is also working to raise $300,000 to endow a scholarship in honor of Professor Adzenyah’s legacy at Wesleyan. The Abraham Adzenyah Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship is designated for music students, with financial need, who embody the spirit of Mr. Adzenyah. Gifts in any amount are welcome. For further information about the scholarship, please contact Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations Marcy Herlihy via e-mail at mherlihy@wesleyan.edu or (860) 685-2523. To make a gift in honor of Mr. Adzenyah to support the Abraham Adzenyah Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship, please visit http://give.wesleyan.edu and select the Adzenyah Scholarship as your Giving Priority under “Additional Information.”
 
For more information about these events, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa/adzenyah.  
 
 
About Abraham Adzenyah
Early in his career, Abraham Kobena Adzenyah studied, performed, and taught drumming in his native Ghana; including five years of formal study in music, dance, and drama at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. He was one of the first artists to be named Master Drummer in the Ghana National Dance Ensemble. On arriving at Wesleyan in 1969, he began to offer courses in West African music, dance, and culture. He received a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Goddard College in 1976, and an M.A. in Music from Wesleyan University in 1979. Equally adept at teaching novices and advanced postgraduates, Mr. Adzenyah always had a magnetic attraction for students, derived from his pairing of commanding knowledge and skills with constant attention to the emotions and spirit inside the music.
 
Throughout his years at Wesleyan, Mr. Adzenyah was a visiting artist and teacher at dozens of workshops, colleges, and conservatories, and has performed all over the world, alone and with eminent musicians like the late Wesleyan Artist in Residence Ed Blackwell, Wesleyan’s John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Emeritus Anthony Braxton, Hugh Masekela, Steve Gadd, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Ornette Coleman, Max Roach, Nexus, World Drums, Dave Holland, and Rufus Reid. He has also influenced and inspired students and professional musicians through his recordings and as co-author, with royal hartigan MA ’83, Ph.D. ’86 and the late Wesleyan African dance teacher Freeman Kwadzo Donkor, of “West African Rhythms for Drumset,” a groundbreaking notation and adaptation to trap drums of traditional and contemporary African rhythms. Mr. Adzenyah has been awarded the Afro-Caribbean World Music Symposium Achievement Award and the Percussive Arts Society Award.
 
 
About the Music Department 
The Wesleyan University Music Department provides a unique and pioneering environment for advanced exploration committed to the study, performance, and composition of music from a perspective that recognizes and engages the breadth and diversity of the world’s musics and technologies. As an integral part of one of the nation’s leading liberal arts institutions, the department has enjoyed an international reputation for innovation and excellence, attracting students from around the globe since the inception of its visionary program in World Music four decades ago.
 
Recent annual music festivals in partnership with the Center for the Arts  have brought to campus a diverse array of artists, including Max Roach, Pete Seeger, Zakir Hussain (India), Thomas Mapfumo (Zimbabwe), Boukman Eksperyans (Haiti), Boogsie Sharpe (Trinidad), and Hugh Masekela (South Africa).
 
A recording studio, a computer and experimental music studio, the Center for the Arts media lab and digital video facility, the World Instrument Collection (which includes the David Tudor Collection of electronic musical instruments and instrumentation), and the Scores and Recordings Collection of Olin Library (which includes the World Music Archives) offer many learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
 
For more information about the Music Department, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/music/.
 
About the Center for the Arts
Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts exists to catalyze people’s creativity by engaging them in the dynamic work of diverse artists.
 
Three inter-related activities enable the CFA to realize its purpose:
 
  • supporting the research, public productions, and in-studio teaching needs of the departments of Art and Art History, Dance, Music, and Theater;
  • leading inter-disciplinary collaborations and other initiatives that integrate artists into creative curricular and co-curricular initiatives; and
  • organizing powerful encounters between visiting artists and diverse elements of the Wesleyan community, the greater Middletown community, statewide, and regional audiences.
 
The Center for the Arts opened in the fall of 1973, and includes the 400-seat Theater, the 260-seat Ring Family Performing Arts Hall (former CFA Hall), the World Music Hall (a non-Western performance space), the 400-seat Crowell Concert Hall, the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, and classrooms and studios.
 
The Center for the Arts gratefully acknowledges the support of its many generous funders and collaborators, including the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New England Foundation for the Arts, as well as media sponsors the Hartford Courant, WESU 88.1FM, WNPR, WSHU, Art New England, and artscope.
 
For more information about Center for the Arts, please call (860) 685-3355, or visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa.