more info »

Tour to Toronto

Baobab Youth is heading to Toronto this weekend for performances and some recreational team building time before our upcoming Ghana Tour.  We will perform with the Jubilate Singers of Toronto, under the direction of Caroline Spearing, a colleague of mine from several (many?) years ago. Together the youth and choir will perform a community concert at St Christopher House as well as a public Saturday night show at Calvin Presbyterian Church. We will also spend some time in the Beaches area  and Ward’s Island. If you are one of our friends in Toronto, check the poster out and come see us!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A busy weekend…

This past weekend saw a lot of activity at the Tree House. Our artist in residence was Kwasi Dunyo, along with his two sons, Kofi and Andrew. As expected, they charmed us all and worked us hard! Public workshops on Saturday were for families, as well as adult drum and dance. Two of our parent chaperones for the Ghana trip as well as our manager Hayley participated in a effort to gain a few skills for the community drum and dance events we will be attending while in Kwasi’s village of Dagbamete this summer. Sunday was a workshop for our youth performers….we worked on Kinka drumming, Gota, and learned a few Ewe greetings to use upon arrival in Ghana.

We ended the weekend with an informal performance and BBQ at St George’s. This is an annual show we present as appreciation for the wonderful  and affordable home we have for our studio at St George’s. Thanks to the Parish in general and Georges Bouliane in particular! The performance featured Kwasi as lead drummer and it was clear both he and his sons infused us with an amazing energy which is just a taste of what is to come for us in the summer.  Thanks to Board member Ian Brown for awesome stage managing help!

There is no denying the energy for the trip is mounting and the skills of the youth performers are expanding exponentially. Don’t miss the final concert before we go, Friday June 17 , 7:30pm at the Fourth Stage of the NAC Tickets $20 For more info and to buy tickets click HERE!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Music Monday

Baobab Youth Performers and St George School celebrated Music Monday yesterday with an interactive concert of West African Drumming Dancing and Singing! Music Monday is an annual event that brings together thousands of students, musicians, parents and community members across Canada to celebrate the gift of music in our lives, on the same day at the same time. The Coalition for Music Education launched Music Monday in 2005.

Sixteen members of Baobab Youth Performers brought the music of Bobobo, Bell Forest and Kpanlogo to the gym at St George School. Parents, teachers, and the whole school population enjoyed a set by the group. Special guests at the performance were members of  the St George Choir junior, who sang and danced Ghana Alleluia accompanied by rhythms from the Baobab drummers. Thanks to their wonderful director Magdalena who prepared them well! The highlight of the concert was the performance by eight primary classes at St George School.  They have been studying the call and response drumming and dancing of Gahu with me over the last couple of weeks, and all 160 of them participated in a large circle of dancers with about 16 of them playing instruments. We had a great time!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spring Donor Campaign

Dear Friend of Baobab

Meet Victoria, age 8

  • “I thought that Baobab was hard when I first saw everyone doing different beats at different times but it was not. I learned that different people from different families can have a lot in common. I made a lot of friends in Baobab, I think its really cool. “

Why Arts Education?

Because of the multifaceted way in which the arts engage youth, community arts programming can offer untraditional ways in which to address personal, academic, and social issues. What looks like simple avenues for self-expression are in fact processes that work through and address many issues.

“Effectivity of Popular Arts & Culture as Medium of Youth Engagement” Youth On Youth, , Pg 32

Comments from youth:

  • “When I drum I feel free. It feels like I’m drumming out all my problems.”
  • “Dancing helps me get rid of my bad feelings and good feelings come inside me.”

Did You Know?

Last year more than 9,000 people participated in Baobab’s community arts projects. This number includes audience members at more than 23 local and touring performances. In addition, approximately 220 adults and seniors participated in classes, more than 20 teachers in workshops and training and over 300 children and youth engaged in our arts education programming.

What’s New at Baobab?

Baobab has a new partnership this year with Hintonburg Community Centre.  With support from the City of Ottawa Community,  free drum classes  for students aged 7-12 are happening weekly at the Hintonburg Centre. Our youth gave an interactive performance to kick off the January session and former Baobab Youth member Ben Holland is teaching the weekly classes. It’s a great example of the mentoring opportunities and circular paths our programming inspires and achieves.  We have plans to expand this program next year to the students at the east end Boys and Girls Club.


Your continued support of our efforts is greatly appreciated and  tax receipts will be issued promptly. Due to the overwhelming popularity of last year’s  “donor dinner giveaway”  once again,  all donors who contribute $50 or more between April 15 and June 30, 2011 will be put into a draw to receive a Ghanaian dinner for eight guests in your home, courtesy of our head chef and board member Lina Asmah!

Contact Hayley in the office to make a donation by credit card, (613)725-6994 or or send a cheque to

Baobab Community, 415C Piccadilly Ave  Ottawa ON K1Y 0H3

Sincerely,  Nadine  Powers,  Chair of the Baobab Board of Directors

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Granny Fest

It seems that there is no end to the interesting people I meet through drumming, and the extraordinary situations and communities connected through music. Yesterday I had the pleasure of performing with the Capital Grannies, at the Ottawa Granny Fest, a day of inspiring speakers and workshops for the amazing members of the numerous Granny groups that are in this region and further afield…some even came from Sherbrooke, Quebec!  If you don’t already know about the work of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign and their work with the Stephen Lewis Foundation click here! A couple of years back, Kate Bryant, one of the long time and dedicated students in our adult drumming classes at Baobab Tree,  approached me about having her Granny group come for some drumming workshops,  as they wanted to find a way to express themselves and engage support through music. Its been tough to fit in workshops with this busy group of women but they have persisted and I have taught them Ghanaian hand drum patterns, a stick drumming piece, some songs and chants, all that they can lead themselves.  They have even made two sets of gorgeous sono tube drums for use at their events. Whether its motivating each other at their own workshops or getting attention from politicians on Parliament Hill, these ladies are fast becoming a powerful rhythmic force. While I don’t get to perform with them too often, their commitment, resolve and caring to the cause and to each other is so inspiring to me.  I look forward to my musical  time with them and I certainly count them as friends.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CUBE Africa Night

I mentioned a couple posts back about the creative and talented parent community we have at Baobab…this was in full effect last Thursday night when CUBE Gallery owners Don Monet & Becky Rynor (whose daughter Augusta is in the group) organized and hosted a very enjoyable and  hip fundraiser for the Footsteps to Ghana trip. The event was a sell-out and connected a crowd of art, food wine and music lovers.

The African inspired snacks were generously donated and prepared by Jennifer Heagle of  Red Apron , another Baobab parent. The youth performed  a live set in their new Ghana tour shirts amidst a sweaty throng of people and surrounded by fantastic art including Zimbabwean artist Chiko Chazunguza and Ottawa artist Paule Fournier.

Guests milled around and tried some tasty South African wines, enjoyed the food and bid on the generous and interesting silent auction items donated to the event. The second half of the evening  featured beautiful African guitar grooves by Paul and Loic from Cheza, friends of Baobab parent Cathy Sandiford. I enjoyed sitting in on a couple of numbers with them to play some light percussion. The setting was warm and friendly and we can’t thank the CUBE enough for such a terrific evening. Definitely one of our biggest and most successful event toward our trip which is only about 11 weeks away!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Preparing for Ghana

Since September, we have been having monthly Ghana trip meetings for the Footsteps to Ghana travellers and their families. Of course a lot of the time has been spent figuring out fundraising initiatives….but we also really want the travellers to be prepared for what will be a dynamic and challenging journey. At this point we are only three months away from leaving and the excitement is palpable! At our recent Ghana meeting, some of the Baobab kids made presentations on Ghanaian food with samples of fried plantain and groundnut (peanut) clusters. We also learned about education in Ghana, including some information on the school in the village of Dagbamete where we will be staying most of the time. We hope to visit the school a bit before their summer break begins.

The group also got their packing list complete with discussions about culturally appropriate length of shorts and skirts; minimizing our footprint there  by taking biodegradable soap and shampoo and leaving most packaging behind in Canada, as well as the usual talk about electronics and hair dryers that you might expect :) We have also finalized our rooming and chaperone groups…..24 kids, 6 chaperones, 2 admin people, one first aid person and two music researchers! 35 people in total!  Reminders of vaccinations, health forms, visa requirements were also discussed. So many details….but it will all be worth it.

I went to Toronto last weekend to firm up itinerary and logistical plans with our wonderful host and teacher Kwasi Dunyo who will meet the whole group when we get off the plane in Accra. Its going to be a great trip and we will keep you posted on this blog!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kids & Kids

I’m always amazed at how Ghanaian music and dance has the ability to bring so many different ages and backgrounds of people together. Mentoring opportunities are a natural in this music and Baobab Youth Performers are always working with each other to learn and share rhythms and dance moves. These are kids ranging from age 11 through 17…kind of amazing to have such a big span. We also regularly get opportunities to work with other kids in public settings, which gives the Baobab Youth members some experience in teaching and engaging with the public. We just finished a luncheon at Algonquin College Language Institute for graduates and their families where the children had to learn a drum pattern before they could get a stamp in their passport…a lot of fun for our gang too….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Photo Shoot

Besides the interesting and multi-talented  kids that come through our doors, there are some pretty interesting and creative parents of those kids….we had a chance to work with Ioyan’s dad, Lyndon Goveas, who is a photographer, at the professional Studio Four30. Baobab needed some new shots of the current group, so we spent a fun afternoon last week hamming it up in the groovy east end location. These photos are just a few of my snapshots, until we get the “real photos”. Thanks to Lyndon and his friends at Studio Four30.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fif’ Ma’ch

Mama Yenunya — the queen mother of Baobab Tree Drum & Dance Community, and more widely known as Kathy Armstrong —  was honoured by the Ghanaian Association of Ottawa on March 5th. The occasion was the celebration of Ghana’s independence from British rule on the 6th of March, fifty-four years ago. Association president Kwaku Agyei presented Kathy with a plaque in appreciation of her “community participation”, acknowledging her years of dedication to Ghanaian culture in Ottawa, bringing the musical traditions of Ghana to the Ghanaian community, to their children, and, of course, to Baobab Youth, who bring this culture into the wider community. Mr. Agyei noted with gratitude that Baobab is always happy to perform traditional music and dance at gatherings of the Ghanaian community and acknowledged gratefully that, in the spirit of sharing these cultural riches, “they never charge us anything”. Following dances by Baobab Youth and singing from the children of the Ghana Language and Culture School of Ottawa, guests were treated to a truly delicious dinner of Ghanaian specialties presented by a parade of magnificent women dressed to impress. The evening ended with a lively and lovely dance party, with loud, loud, throbbing, infectious music from a DJ brought in from Montreal for the occasion. He spun a seamless set of evidently familiar tunes from the latest craze in Ghanaian pop music, a melding of Highlife and Hiphop called, simply enough, Hiplife. Much fun. Photos  of the occasion include Baobab board member Lina Asmah and manager Hayley de Bie.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments