So one of my other hats is teaching music at Carleton University, in the School for Studies in Art and Culture. I am teaching a new fourth year seminar course this year that I got to design from scratch (FUN, WOW!). We are looking at traditional and popular African music through the lens of some of the issues that surround it. What defines African music, its identity, ownership and copyright, fusion of styles, among other things. Its been really interesting and I am learning a lot along with the students as we probe some of these areas. I invited Mighty Popo in the other day to chat with the class about his music, his career and his new acoustic direction, inspired from studies in his native Rwanda in recent years. I’ve been a big fan of his since moving to Ottawa in 1994. We have often played at the same events and its been amazing watching the path of his career.He is certainly true to his own soul and artistic curiosity. He was an excellent speaker and the students had lots of questions that sparked great discussion. He taught us a very cool song from his forthcoming CD, a simple melody with a clapping pattern in 5/4. We then played around with the “harmonies” getting a sense of how the tradition weaves melody in and out.
Baobab Tree is currently raising funds for a Youth Culture Project in the village of Dagbamete, Ghana, which we will take over when we go next summer. We will be supporting the formation of a young people’s drum and dance ensemble in the village, as many youth in Ghana (like elsewhere in the world) are not playing and dancing the old traditions, although they are part of the larger community and are certainly around & drumming when our youth visit. Popo is also working with youth in Rwanda and Burundi and encouraging them to look to the villages for inspiration in the traditional instruments and songs, for whatever style of music they play.
His new CD is beautiful and will be released at the Bronson Centre on Sat Oct 30 at 7pm. You can find out more about Popo at www.mightypopo.ca
Thanks to Carleton Music Dept for supporting his visit!