While eating lunch at the Afia Beach Hotel in the capital city of Accra this past summer, some students in our Study in Ghana group noticed a group of musicians at a nearby table. One of them had what looked like a kora, a traditional stringed instrument commonly found in Mali, Guinea, Senegal, The Gambia and other countries in West Africa. This man turned out to be none other than Adama Dembele de Zoumba, a well-known griot (master musician/vocalist/storyteller) from Burkina Faso READ MORE →
I have spent the last ten years attempting to wrap my head and body around West African dance. It is the only aesthetic that has ever spoken to me and made my body feel at home.
I felt I could never consider myself an African dancer for two reasons: READ MORE →
Had a blast performing with the ZUMIX Youth African Drumming Ensemble at Fenway Park this past Saturday. We were invited by Northeastern University to perform as part of their annual Family Day.
ZUMIX’s unique approach to youth development is evident in its Mission: Empowered youth who use music to make strong positive change in their lives, their communities, and the world. With kids like these, is it any wonder that ZUMIX won a 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House? READ MORE →
Over the years, one of the things I’ve loved most about leading the ThisWorldMusic/UMass Amherst Study in Africa program is getting to know the participants. Sure, studying African music and dance is a thrill, but it’s the people, not just the rhythms, that stick with me long after I’ve returned.
On the most recent winter study abroad trip in Ghana, West Africa, we had a seminary student from Indianapolis, Brent Walsh, who, as luck would have it, turned out to be a professional photographer. And who studies abroad in a place as visually stunning as Ghana without bringing along a camera?
Here are 5 highlights from Brent’s inspiring photos, each representing a different aspect of what it’s like to study in Africa. READ MORE →
With the ThisWorldMusic/UMASS summer 2012 Study in Ghana program on the horizon, I thought I’d share some packing tips we give trip participants. Although a standard packing list is easy to come by, these 10 lesser known items are must haves for anyone planning to study in Ghana: READ MORE →
Happy fall! Our February e-newsletter went out last week and includes links to the following:
- NEW Ghana Study Abroad Photos
- Learn African Drumming at Boston Symphony Hall
- Facebook Sweepstakes Winner Announced
- ZUMIX Wins White House Award
- Featured Blog: Is Beyoncé the Etta James of Our Time?
To receive email updates from us in the future, including news and info on African drumming workshops and Ghana study abroad programs, subscribe at the top right of this page.
Too much commitment? You can read the February newsletter here, or check out past issues:
Thanks for reading and, as always, keep it funky!
With the sad news last week of Etta James’ passing, I found myself looking through early photos of this great lady and wondering: “Would a young Etta make it in today’s music industry?” Or, put another way, could an average looking woman in 2012 become a pop icon and sex symbol based on the strength of her voice alone? And since my post on Justin Bieber and Esperanza Spalding garnered so many fervent responses, I figured this time around I would use as my foil Beyoncé—an iconic black female R&B singer if ever there was one—who played Etta in 2008′s Cadillac Records.
The problem, of course, is that ‘B,’ as Beyoncé is known to fans like me, is both good looking and good sounding. Or is she? The truth is that, in our era of sci-fi-like post production sound processing, most pop recordings have become so sanitized that it is nearly impossible to know the true, intimate sound of a singer’s voice. READ MORE →
Had a great time performing with my student African Drumming ensembles last week at ZUMIX, the community music school in inner city East Boston where I started the African Drumming program in 2007. ZUMIX has grown a lot since then, recently winning the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House.
Check out these three videos, the first featuring the ZUMIX beginning African Drumming Ensemble performing an adapted version of Gahu, a recreational style of music from the Ewe people of Ghana, West Africa:
And here’s the ZUMIX intermediate African Drumming Ensemble performing Atsiagbekor (a k a Agbekor), an Ewe war piece: READ MORE →
Join ThisWorldMusic to support West African culture and development! ‘Like’ TWM on Facebook before January 5, 2012, for a chance to win a year’s supply of Divine Chocolate from Ghana. After entering, please help spread the word about this great company by following the prompt to share with friends.
This recipe and information originally appeared on whats4eats.com.
Jollof rice probably originated from rice dishes eaten by the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia, but its popularity has spread to most of West Africa, especially Nigeria and Ghana. Based on rice, tomatoes and usually meat or fish, it is believed by some to be the origin of Cajun jambalaya. The Gambian version is called benachin. Also spelled jolof or djolof rice. READ MORE →