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Busy Drumming Times!

Wow, so much has been going on at Baobab Tree in the last few weeks, its been a bit of a blur.  The Baobab Youth performed at two seniors centres in town, the Pallisades and the Hillel Lodge. Audiences at both locations thoroughly enjoyed our show and enthusiastically participated with us at the end by dancing and trying out some instruments. Dominic Donkor came to town to do some school performances with me through MASC and while he was here, spent some time with the ROOTS 11-13 class. They had a blast with him and it really pumped them up for their open house which happened last night. Maureen Clarke was on hand to put the final touches on the fabulous picture frame projects they made with her, using their Ghanaian day names.The kids played a terrific set including a complex  Pete Pete with passing blocks, singing, and drums, as well as the  fast stick drumming piece Gota and a Bobobo featuring the beautiful and long hand drum intro. We’ll start two new sessions of ROOTS (11-13 & 7-10) the first week of April. Always  fun to work with these amazing kids!

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Hayley’s 5 years!

Last week we surprised Hayley at the end of a Board meeting with a little party to celebrate her fifth anniversary with Baobab Tree. Many friends showed up from Baobab’s past and present. Hayley de Bie started as our office manager in February 2006 when the office was still in my house and our rehearsals and classes were at Fisher Park Community Centre. Hayley’s position was generously funded in the beginning  by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. We knew we were getting a top-notch administrator with strong financial skills, but we lucked out with her amazing people skills and love for the Ghanaian drumming world. She accompanied us to Ghana at her own expense that first year, just to gain the insight into what gives us inspiration, and what helps us keep going through tough times. She is one of those people who just gets the job done, no matter what it takes. And it takes ALL kinds of skills! Organizing volunteers, sorting silent auction items, putting towels down under leaky ceilings, driving the drum van on tours, picking up kids when needed, chatting with audience members and families, putting up posters, learning about new social media, lugging Cocoa Camino chocolate in and out of the studio, not to mention dealing with government financial forms and keeping up to date with charity laws! She knows how to connect with our students, adults and kids, their parents, and she knows to keep clear of me on stressful concert days!  Simply put, it feels like Hayley has been part of the Tree for a long time…we can’t imagine it without her!  You’ve probably talked with her on the phone for registering for our programs, you may have seen her bopping in the back of our concerts, but whatever the case, everyone in the community has benefited from her positive and skillful presence. Here are a few pics of her time with us so far and a few comments from her…
“Baobab is a terrific community to be included in.  I have really enjoyed working with every person involved with us.  It is always lots of fun to be around each and every one of you.  You all bring unique qualities to our community which makes it a very exciting place to be.”

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Footsteps to Ghana Contest

Baobab Community is pleased to announce our amazing contest, open from now until June 17, 2011.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased from our office or a Baobab Youth member near you. A skill testing question must be answered to complete your entry.

We are grateful to our sponsors, Chris Tibelius, Carole Gobeil at Unik Tour, Drifters and Adventure Centre.


Guesses: $10


1st: Overland Safari Tour in South Africa1 (value $1950),

2nd: African Quilt (value $400),

3rd: African Table Cloth (value $30)

Winners will be announced June 17, 2011 at our kick-off concert at the 4th Stage of the National Arts Centre. No cash substitutions.

118 day overland trip does not include travel expenses from Canada.


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School Performances

Yesterday the Baobab Youth went on the road for a couple of school shows. Two vans full of drums and five vehicles of performers….our first stop was at Churchill Alternative School where Baobab collaborated with the Churchill Lunchtime Drummers, made up of  kids in grades 4-6 who have been practising their drumming and dancing during lunchtimes the last few months. Lead by myself and teacher Natalie Shorkey, these kids had some great moves and rhythms. Their skills led them easily into a collaboration with the older Baobab kids for Kpanlogo. A huge amount of fun. Churchill School presented us with a generous donation towards our Footsteps trip in July.

After the first show, we moved on to Kanata. where we played at St Anne’s Catholic school to a very large audience of enthusiastic kids.  One of the staff is a parent of ours and her son Rowan gave a great performance on lead drum for Danse Guerriere! The Q&A time was full of great questions and gave our gang a chance to talk about our rehearsals and other aspects of the music and dance we do together. A great opportunity for us to hone our touring and performance skills! They will be needed for our spring tour to Toronto and,  of course,  Ghana. Thanks to all the parent volunteers.

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Shoe La La!

Sunday saw a very different set up at the Baobab Studio…so different that we had to spill out into the big room of our wonderful landlords, St George’s.  Usually its all about drums, drums and more drums but this time it was shoes, shoes and more shoes!

Not to mention scarves, jewellery, boots and purses. This Footsteps to Ghana fundraiser was a big success. Thanks to everyone in our community who donated items for the sale….lots of it was even new and was a big hit with the afternoon shoppers some of whom got there early to wait in line for the best deals. And there were some great deals to be had. There were a slew of volunteers on hand that day, not to mention those who had done all the terrific sorting. A great fundraising event; and quite a few footsteps closer to Ghana and our projects there.

After the busy event, the adults going to Ghana assembled for one of our bonding dinners (wouldn’t you do that if you were going to be taking 23 teens to West Africa?!!!) We had discussions about Ghana, what to expect in terms of cultural customs,  and we ate some delicious food. Baobab instructor and co-founder Rory Magill even bbq’d up some sardines in the driveway prior to the  dinner which he served with kenke and hot sauce (can you say shito?), a favourite among Ghanaians. He served the food with his usual off the wall and totally entertaining accounts of Ghanaian culture. About five months until we leave….getting closer….

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New Funding Announcement!

Baobab Community is pleased to announce that we are recent recipients of funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. These funds have made it possible to purchase large mirrors for our walls, to better serve our rehearsals and African dance classes. In addition, OTF funds have been used to purchase new equipment for our office, which will update and support our new website and social media efforts. Baobab Community is very grateful to the OTF for their support. The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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Quiz Night

The Baobab Community hosted our first ever Quiz night last Sunday night. Held at the new Royal Oak pub in downtown Ottawa, more than 90 participants crowded into the space ready to test their memory and recall, while enjoying refreshments which somewhat hampered those skills! Teams of six made it a collective effort with a little friendly competition, sometimes even within the teams… A few American guests upped the ante on the USA related questions, and several Baobab Youth parents were put on the spot,  needing to know names of some of the repertoire performed by their kids. Quiz Master Paul Paquet did a fabulous job, as did organizer Claire Thompson,  a parent and board member with our organization. The event was a very successful fundraiser for the Footsteps to Ghana trip this coming summer. A total of $1860 was made. Way to go teams! Thanks for the support.

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Teacher’s Art Workshop

Yesterday, fifteen teachers from across the Ottawa Carleton Board of Education came to the Baobab Studio to make art with Maureen Clarke and get some creative ideas for Black History Month projects with their students. Organized by CAT Visual Arts resource teacher Holly Blair, the afternoon session went quickly,  including discussions about the links between rhythm, patterns, drumming and art in Ghana,  West Africa with Kathy Armstrong.  By the end, all of the teachers had wonderful frames with adinkra and kente patterns to take back to their classrooms .  A small taste of what is to come April 15-17 at our weekend workshop for teachers (see the events page for more information).

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Drumming for Hintonburg

Baobab Youth Performers kicked off the new year with a free show at the Hintonburg Community Centre this afternoon.  With an audience of about 50 kids from the  after school program, as well as various parents and staff, the Youth Performers got the kids fired up about drumming just in time for the winter session of free weekly drum classes,  which begins there tomorrow. These free classes are a partnership between the City of Ottawa and Baobab Community and will be taught by a Baobab Youth Alumni, Ben Holland, now a Carleton University student. Funding from the City of Ottawa helped with the purchase of some cool looking and sounding hand drums from Dave’s Drum Shop and the general cost of the classes.

We are  very excited about this initiative!

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Rhythm Café

“We  really enjoyed our time today at Rhythm Cafe. It was so great to see so many young people engaged in an experience that they would not have without the existence of your program. Your description of the program in the EMC was right on, it was fun and entertaining.  Even the coffee was good.  We look forward to attending any future presentations.” -Rhythm Café attendees

A fabulous afternoon with the Baobab Community happened this past Saturday. Our annual fundraiser was book-ended by an all ages workshop on the front end and a dynamite adult dance class performance at the end. Members of the community, including our local MPP Yasir Naqvi joined myself and the Baobab Youth for a hands-on  workshop in the music of Ghana. Crowded into the studio ,we soon had several layers of groove happening. Moving into in the larger room nearby the youth with guests Dominic Donkor and Prosper Adjetey performed several recreational pieces in our repertoire…..a highlight was the surprise ending to Angie and Rowan‘s duet in Gota!

The Monday night adult dance class has been working hard with Prosper Adjetey on a difficult piece form the northern part of Ghana called Bawa. Dancers have to know the intricate drumming beats given by Dominic Donkor, in order to respond. We were all mesmerized! The class joined Baobab Youth for a fun jam at the end.

Proceeds from this annual event go towards the general arts education programming that Baobab Tree does, as well as the youth trip to Ghana next summer. Thanks to all who volunteered and those who came out to support, especially the local businesses who contributed to our Silent Auction, and our sponsors Camino and Bridgehead Coffeehouse. We are always grateful to our manager Hayley de Bie who put all the logistics together with parent volunteers. An awesome job as always!! 

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