Black History Month

February is Black History Month and as usual, Baobab Community is involved in many events this month.  Here’s a glimpse into some of what we have been up to:

Julia Walmsley leads the Thursday night adult drum class

Rory Magill leads the Dagbamba drumming at our recent "Try This!" workshop

Dominic Donkor, in town for some MASC performances, spends some time with my Carleton U Music students

Baobab Youth give a performance at the OSU Childrens Library Fund fundraiser, where many of their terrific books were for sale.

Baobab with OCLF founder Kathy Knowles. We were able to visit and perform with students from the Nima Library and Kathy Knowles Theatre Troupe in Accra during our trip to Ghana last summer.

At the invitation of Nepean High School music teacher, Lee Carter, Baobab Youth performed at two assemblies for Black History Month, highlighting current cultural practices in Ghana. I went in twice to work with Mr. Carter’s vocal students to teach them some songs and dance moves for Gahu, and then at the assemblies, about 100 of them surrounded an audience of peers to create a traditional Ewe Gahu with us.  Other parts of the assembly included a slide show from our trip as we played a couple of other pieces,  as well as some reflections from other Nepean students who went to Ghana last year as part of their social justice club. We also had the pleasure of having former Baobab Youth member Patrick Hoffman sit in with us for Gahu…he is about to graduate from Nepean and it was wonderful to have him play with us again. It was a great collaborative morning all round! See for yourself….thanks to our multi-talented manager Hayley de Bie for the photos!

Also this month, I had an interesting request from a music teacher in Arnprior who conducts a wonderful high school jazz choir called Red Velvet. They wanted some authentic choreography to go with their singing version of Waka Waka , made famous by Shakira during the World Cup in South Africa. The melody is originally from Cameroon and has a very interesting history. Hayley and I went out for an early morning rehearsal with these talented students and I taught them some Kpanlogo moves to go with their wonderful singing, The only challenge was to make sure they could do them while holding a mic in one hand!

And, finally, just this afternoon Baobab Youth performed at a benefit for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). This is an event called “Echoes of Winter” put on by the Kanata Music Academy, and all of their students. A lovely afternoon event at Carleton’s Kailash Mitel Hall, the program featured everything from solo singing, to piano, dance groups,  acrobat-skippers and us! Congrats to Peter who played lead drum for Gota for the first time,  something he has worked on for a few months. We were presented with a gift and a plaque for our participation. A busy but rewarding month!

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