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Connections and Culture weekend-20th celebration

concert11What a great success this past weekend was! So many wonderful people, having so much fun with Ghanaian music, dance and food! We must first thank the Baobab Board of Directors who did an outstanding job of pulling all the elements together. Evie Gray, Abby Forson, Ann Maloney, Kerry Gogush-Cule, Tanis Stoliar, Emily Klein, Nadine Powers and our chair, Erica Sher.

In attendance at the concert Saturday night was the new Ghana High Commissioner, His Excellency Dr. Sulley Gariba, the Deputy High Commissioner, Mrs. Florence Akonor, President of the Ghana Association of Ottawa, Mr. Bismark Otoo and many more members of the Ghanaian community of Ottawa who are friends to Baobab. Also wonderful to see so many alumnae and families in the audience!


Baobab alumnus Ben Holland (ROOTS, Youth and currently Carleton WARE) gave a funny and moving account of his 15 year involvement with this music and dance and a tribute to Baobab and my patience as a teacher ;). Our guest artist for the weekend Nani Agbeli, was a perfect choice for inspiring performers, audience members and students at the public workshops with his incredible, magnetic performance and teaching skills. The Ghanaian dinner at the end of the weekend was a tribute to the richness of the culture and the connections we make stronger through our collective love of the music and dance. Akpe kakakakaka to all! Photos courtesy of Ian Holland, Kathy Armstrong & jp Simbandumwe.

    • concert1concert4concert5concert7concert10concert13drum ws1dance1dinner1dinner2kids dinnerdinner4dinner HayleyDSC_5480 DSC_5439 DSC_5445 DSC_5498 DSC_5683 DSC_5580 DSC_5585 DSC_5568 DSC_5473 DSC_5457kerry dinner

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ROOTS Fall 2015

This Fall’s ROOTS class was the largest we have had in a while. Great kids who work well together and did some amazing drumming and singing, which they showcased last night at our end of term open house. They also worked with Maureen Clarke to produce some great Ghanaian Adinkra art. The symbols were chosen to represent the kids’ thoughts about participating in drumming: leadership, abundance, strength & humility, friendship and peace & harmony. Once joined together, it became a colourful group piece which they gifted to the whole Baobab Community. We will happily and proudly display it at our 20th Anniversary Events this year! Yay ROOTS! Next session begins in January.


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Gigging for Latrines!

Baobab Youth performed at the recent benefit put on by the Rotary Club of Nepean-Kanata, to raise funds for a new latrine system on the village of Dzogadze in Ghana. The concert was organized by Liliane Lalonde-McKennirey, a pianist and music teacher who accompanied us on our first trip to Ghana in 2001. There was an eclectic group of performers including the Orkidstra and the Goulbourn Male Chorus. We have spent many good times in Dzogadze watching and participating in local performances, as well as learning from the amazing drummer and dancers there. Their special piece in Dzogadze is Atsiagbekor a challenging and energetic story of battles fought. Its an amazing place and we are so pleased to offer our support. Here is a note from the chief:

Hi Kathy,
Liliane made me aware that you are going to perform a concert to raise fund for the WC project for Dzogadze. I want to thank you very much for this generous gesture. I am so grateful. My greetings to everybody. Wishing you a very wonderful weekend.

Torgbi Agblah.

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20th Season Launch

Last Saturday was our launch event for this Anniversary Season. What a day! Current Baobab Youth, alumnae, Board members, volunteers, families, special guests and the general public gathered to kick off our 20th celebrations. Our new tag line “Connecting with Rhythm” was visible in the special t-shirts designed by Mark Taylor of Friction Creative. They looked fantastic, up close or from a distance! We will be selling them throughout the year at all of our events.

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dsc_0134The launch took place in the lovely Somerset Square, and although it was a chilly day, the autumn sun lent an amazing energy to being outside. We are grateful to our sponsors for the event: The Red Apron for delicious pumpkin loaf, Bridgehead Coffee and the West End Well for logistical support at the event. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Board Chair Erica Sher kicked off the celebrations by welcoming everyone and giving a little background to the event. The group played a few pieces, beginning with a Drum Talk that started down the street on Wellington.

Drum Talk pop up

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Quite a few alumnae were present and helped dance and drum a couple of fave pieces: Gahu and Kpanlogo. Members represented years from 1995 right through to recent grads! So fantastic to have them there. We look forward to seeing more alumnae during our other events, especially the Sankofa weekend June3-4, 2016.

Baobab AlumOne of the earliest Baobab Youth members, Sarah-Jane Laberge, who started in 1995), spoke of her time with us during her formative years. It was a heartfelt, funny, and  poignant speech, moving many people to tears.  She talked about the community of individuals in the group that made a difference to her life in many ways. We also heard from Emily Klein, a longtime current member (in her last year with us) who spoke of her passion for this music and dance and the way the music brings joy and energy to her life. It was fantastic to hear from both these women.


As a registered charity, Baobab Community has been fortunate in receiving funding through grants and donations from the City of Ottawa, the Ottawa Community Foundation (Gaia Fund), the Rotary Club, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Representing the Ontario government was the MPP for Ottawa Centre, Mr. Yasir Naqvi, who spoke about his experience in one of our drumming workshops, as well as congratulating us on our success. Federal Liberal candidate Catherine McKenna joined joined us as well for a while in between campaigning for the upcoming election.

event & guestsMr. NaqviThis is a special year, and we are grateful to be doing what we love. It has been an amazing adventure from 1995 to now, full of joy, challenges, growth, development, re-thinking, outreach, and connecting with rhythm. We look forward to what is ahead, both in the rest of this year and beyond!

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photo credits: Ben Holland, David Farley, Ian Holland and Kerry Gogush Cule
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Camp Week!

campgroupWhat a fantastic week at Rhythm Trek Camp! A group of 16 campers gathered last week each day to drum, dance, sing, play cards, eat together, swim and play games. Coached and guided by 5 wonderful volunteers: Sam, Quinn, Rory, Brianna & Patty. Taught by Kathy Armstrong, Dominic Donkor, Rory Magill and with an impromptu performance by visiting drummer dancer Nani Agbeli. What a great week! We learned some Bobobo and Danse Guerriere rhythms, dance moves for each, Pete Pete singing, mudcloth art projects and Ghanaian food day. The campers ranged in age from 6-13 and were awesome mentors to each other. A real treat to spend time with this group! See you next year! Special thanks to the Rotary Club of Nepean/Kanata for their support, as well as St. George’s Parish for space. Here are a few shots of the fun:

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concert prep

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Black Sheep Farley 3

Sunday was our final show of the season. As per tradition, we played at the Black Sheep Inn, inviting any alumnae to attend and participate, as well as creating space to honour those who are leaving the group at the end of this season: Clara Burgener, Ariane Wilson, Gabriel Sher and Samantha Ferguson.

We also had special guests Dandelion Dance Company directed by Hannah Beach. They performed one of their amazing pieces :We are Children” as well as doing an improv for our Kpanlogo.

The show was FANTASTIC! Not only for its artistic quality which was very high, but for the amazing energy of inclusiveness and support generated by these young people. It was one of our more special shows.

Thanks to alumnae to came out: Conor Shields, Dave Hennessy, Ioyan Manser-Goveas, Ben Compton, Diana de Zuviria Abbate, and Ben Holland (whose pics will follow soon). SO wonderful to have your participation!

Here are some pics from current parent David Farley(THX).

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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


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.


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


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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