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Talented ROOTS!

Last night the ROOTS class gave their end of session “informance”. They have been working hard and presented the piece Kpatsa as instrumental and then as a dance. They also performed Gahu….but in this case they combined the drumming, singing and dancing at the same time! Challenging parts and great leadership from within the group. This group of kids is amazing! We were fortunate that Ghanaian drummer Dominic Donkor was in town and sat in on some support for us. He and Kathy Armstrong also played a piece from their school repertoire for us. Dominic will be back to teach at our Rhythm Trek Summer Camp August 10-14. Here are a few photos form the evening from Ben Holland.

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Toronto Tour

Just got back from an amazing tour with the Baobab Youth Performers. Piling into three vans early Friday morning, we went to Toronto to perform, take a workshop with Kwasi Dunyo and sightsee. First stop was a performance at Equinox Alternative School where we performed for a large audience of  about 400 kids in grades 1-8. Lovely to have special guests Cam & Vivian who I used to perform with in Toronto. Thanks to Jodi Armstrong for setting it up!

Baobab at Equinox

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We then checked in to our dorm rooms at Glendon College campus of York University: nothing fancy but sure fun to hang out together,  and the communal bathrooms and showers were reminiscent of our stays in Ghana. Dinner on the Danforth that night. Saturday we headed for a few hours to Queen St. W, starting with a walk down Graffiti Alley which was a huge hit!

Baobab 5Graffitti alley11119420_879576222088172_3496263442113805408_n11200896_879576258754835_5913331042605854250_n11165255_879576168754844_7080524865605297676_nAfterwards we walked up through Queen’s Park, waving to a skateboarding-Spiderman, past the “legalize marijuana” demonstration and on to the UofT Faculty of Music Building where we did a workshop on the music and dance of Bamaya with Kwasi Dunyo in the studio that he regularly teaches in.

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Afterwards we piled into the vans and went to Kwasi’s house where an amazing party awaited us. Lots of fantastic Ghanaian food and members of Kwasi’s family…fun to reconnect with everyone and enjoy the fabulous food outdoors. After dinner we performed Kpatsa and then had a great dance party. Everyone there know how to make a party and we certainly did!

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Sunday was breakfast in “the Beach” and then a nice hang out on the Boardwalk and various shops along Queen East. Some of us found an artists tour and enjoyed seeing some paintings and jewellery in one of the charming houses there.

Everyone got along SO well and it was fantastic to see the great connection between all the youth, especially the way the elders looked out for the youngers.  A special thanks to the wonderful parents who accompanied us, Erica and Ann, and our former manager Hayley. They were all great company and a big help on the trip. Couldn’t do it with you!

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Drumming Your Dreams

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Baobab Youth teamed up with the Capital Grannies last Sunday to present a unique event. We screened “Sweet Dreams” the award-winning Rwandan film that weaves themes of entrepreneurship, drumming, ice cream and a country’s rebirth. We began with Baobab Youth and the Grannies drumming together in procession onto the stage. A few compelling comments followed and then some more drumming. We were all deeply moved by the film….Baobab drummed us out into the lobby afterwards for ice cream. The event was a Fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign and Baobab Community. We raised about $2400 for those two causes! Thanks to the nearly 200 audience members who came out to support us. It was great to see so many people there! Photo thanks to Rory Magill and David Farley.

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6 March Celebrations!

Ghana IndependenceLast night at the invitation of the Ottawa Ghana Association, Baobab Youth performed at the Ghana Independence Day celebrations at the Marconi Centre in honour of Ghana’s 58th birthday. It was a really festive night with film clips, speeches, photo booth, dinner for 200 by the amazing Ghana House Cuisine, live music and dance and a dj! We debuted our highlife music for the crowd who seemed to really enjoyed it. Thanks to special guests Avery on trumpet at Billy on sax and arrangements by Rory Magill.

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ROOTS Winter Open House

The Winter session of ROOTS finished up with an open house this week. We played and danced Kpatsa, did the game song Tuwe Tuwe and opened with a magical rainforest soundscape. Thanks to ROOTS alumnus Kate for the photos. The spring session begins March 25 for 8 weeks! See this group in concert with local children’s choirs on March 29th…details on our events page.

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December Wrap-Up!

Baobab Youth finished 2014 with a couple of gigs and parties. Last week we gave a performance for the after 4 program at Hintonburg Community Centre. Our new piece Kpatsa was definitely a highlight, as it usually is. The kids loved the show, and came up to check out the drums later. Afterwards we gathered for our own holiday party where we had some amazing sugary treats and other tasty snacks. Our annual secret gift exchange was fun and meaningful. Some pretty cool and thoughtful gifts!

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And, finally, last Saturday night the group performed at the Midezor Association‘s annual Christmas party (Cultural Explosion!). This great group of Ewe speakers in the National Capital region, does some great community and advocacy work, and they also know how to party it up! The food was awesome and the dancing memorable. A special presentation was made to outgoing Ghana High Commissioner, His Excellency Kwasi Korentang, who has been a wonderful supporter of Baobab during his time in office. We are sad to see him go back to Ghana on another assignment, but he has promised to host us there and we will definitely follow that up on our next trip! Midezor also surprised us by saying they would like to “adopt” Baobab as one of their community partners….as our 20th Anniversary is just around the corner we are excited about some collaboration.

 

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Midezor President Alberta Lawson

Midezor President Alberta Lawson

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Outgoing Ghana HC

Outgoing Ghana HC

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Happy Holidays to all from Baobab Community!

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November

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November is always a whirlwind month; lots of events….and our annual coffeehouse. This year for the second year in a row we contributed proceeds to the India Buxton Taylor Singing Fund There were tons of community volunteers who contributed, and Meaghan Cullen our Youth Collaborations Coordinator organized much of the event! Thanks to everyone for helping out.

Earlier in the week we played our first grocery store opening…for Whole Foods….we were there to celebrate the African Bronze Honey Company who we have partnered with for a fundraiser this fall. Whole Foods is the only place in Ottawa you can actually buy this tasty honey retail. They are an amazing organization that works with African BeeKeepers…check them out!

Here are some pics!

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Power of the Gahu

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Yesterday Baobab Youth had a busy gigging day….we started with a full performance at the Ottawa Storytellers Children’s Day for about 100 kids and parents.

Baobab @storytellersWe then moved on to Carleton University where we met up with my group there….the West African Rhythm Ensemble. We have each been practicing a full version of Gahu and so we put it together with about 30 of us. We walked over to the beautiful River Building where the Power of the Arts National Forum was taking place. I spoke for a few minutes on the drumming program I teach at Carleton in the Music dept, Baobab Community and the amazing health benefits that come with drumming and then we demonstrated with a full Gahu. SO wonderful! We received a standing ovation! I love bringing the two groups together.  Fantastic energy. Still hoping for some photos of the event but here is one at the rehearsal.

Baobab & WARE 2014

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Beat Retreat

Baobab Youth kicked off the season with a half day Beat Retreat last weekend followed by our first performance of the season. A four hour rehearsal with our friends drummer Dominic Donkor and dancer Prosper Adjetey who taught us a new piece, Kpatsa and worked a little on some clean up for Kpanlogo…a really great work out for all!

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Then we walked down to dinner at Oliver’s house.. the beautiful weather enhanced the great hang outside for badminton, massage, chat and amazing food provided by Jona’s , mom, co-owner of Red Apron. What a treat to have such delicious food!Dinner1Dinner 3Dinner 2Dinnr 4Dinner 5

 

 

Then we headed off to McKellar Park to play for the Labyrinth Walk, hosted by Barbara Brown and the McKellar Park Community Association. All ages gathered to walk the labyrinth and listen to the sounds of the gankoguis and drums. It was magical! L1L2L3L4L5

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Rhythm Trek 2014

Camp groupAn amazing week despite the rain…full of drumming, dancing, singing, food and Ghana day-name art! The kids learned two pieces, Gahu and Kpatsa with Dominic and myself and really worked hard to pull all the elements together. We had great help from assistant camp director Meaghan  and fantastic volunteers Emily, Samantha and Rory. We could not have done it without you! Final food day Friday was a blast with Dongo Rory and Fanta in the bottle gave the traditional food the final Ghana touch. On Thursday we all went to the City of Ottawa Summer Arts Festival in Bellevue Park and performed some of our pieces for kids in City camps. Here are a few pics…

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