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Happy New Year! It is with great pleasure we announce the completion of our new Three Year Strategic Plan for the Organization. Beginning with community and participant consultation in October, the Baobab Board has been busily working with that input to draft our direction for the next few years. Included in that is the planning for our 20th Anniversary Celebrations, coming in 2015.  You can read the document here:

Baobab Strategic Plan 2014-2017

Thanks to all the people who generously contributed their time towards this project:

Facilitator: Graham Sher
AD/ED: Kathy Armstrong
Board members: Erica Sher (chair), Evie Gray, Abigail Forson, Kerry Gogush-Cule, Tanis Stoliar, Nadine Powers (on leave)
Baobab Parents: Christopher Duschenes, Tiffany Klein, Eileen Melnick, Claire Thompson
Baobab Youth: Emily Klein, Jona Thomas, Rory Saunders, Gabriel Sher
Community members: Mike Nowosad, Tara Phillips, Meaghan Cullen, Sam Bonti-Ankomah, Bismark Otoo, Jane O’Regan, Leslie Bricker
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Community Awards

Amazing community

Last night Baobab Youth had the privilege of providing some of the entertainment for the Accora Village Amazing Community Awards. The evening was a tribute to all the individuals and partners who have made this neighbourhood (formerly Bayshore Village) into the vibrant and engaged community it is today. Lots of Ottawa celebs on hand to give out the awards and we were lucky enough to take a photo with Mayor Jim Watson, Councillor Mark Taylor, Olympic medalist Elizabeth Manley and Stuntman Stu. It was an inspiring evening!

group wMayorGota dancers2 Danse Guerriere dancers Bow

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Song Keeper

This afternoon’s Song Keeper Coffeehouse was a HUGE success. Big shout out to all the volunteers and the performers, including Dandelion Dance Company and the Nepean High School Choir.

The energy was amazing (not only due to the delicious cupcakes and coffee)…lots of great solo and duo performances and youth just putting their individual and creative stamp on the afternoon. Over $2000 was raised for the India Buxton Taylor Singing Fund, which will provide funds for singing classes for those who can’t afford it.  Youth for Youth. Simple and effective.  See for yourself…


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ROOTS on Fire!


Last night was the final Fall ROOTS session and Open House. What a great event! 14 young drummers demonstrated their new techniques in hand and stick drumming, dancing and singing, some even taking on the lead calls! They also had a blast playing the stone passing game Oboa Asi Me Nsa and had us all laughing with them.

ROOTS blocks

It was a large group this time and we were lucky to have Carleton Practicum student Meaghan Cullen helping with the teaching each week. The class also did an art session with Maureen Clarke, making amazing votive candles with Adinkra symbols.

ROOTS MeaghanROOTS candlesHere are a few more photos from the evening (thanks Anne Maloney). We look forward to the next session of ROOTS beginning in mid January .



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Baobab Fall Donor Drive

Dear Friends of Baobab Community,

Baobab has made some important and energizing changes, and we are now  halfway through our two-year transitional time. Our organizational restructuring in 2012, as well as our sole programming focus on youth and children, has resulted in a very positive impact within Baobab and our surrounding community.  More of our resources are spent on artistic projects and guest artists; and youth initiatives such as our mentoring opportunities and subsidized spots have been increased.

Last month we held our AGM, which included a brainstorming session with many members of the public, as well as the youth in Baobab towards our next three-year Strategic Plan, which will be released in January. We are excited about the direction we are moving in,  and the energy that is gathering towards our 20th Anniversary year in 2015 is palpable!

A recent note from a parent following the AGM:

“[My daughter] was so energized after the meeting that she got inspired to discuss matters even more. We continued our conversation until we got home, with her really examining her feelings about Baobab. It was very touching to hear her express her feelings about you and the group. My goal has always been to surround my children with wonderful role models who are passionate and who want to share their love of music and art with them. And I feel that we found that. You have made such a huge positive impact on [her] and all of us that we definitely feel a strong connection. We look forward to sharing our music with everyone!”

The response last year to our donor campaign was very encouraging! It seems that many of you also realize the value of our unique programming and wish to support us in our efforts to stay viable as well as keeping the integrity, vibrancy and joy in what do.

We would be thrilled if you felt you could support us this year.

There are currently two ways that you can make a donation to Baobab:

  • Choose “Donate!” on our website to donate online through Canada
  • Mail a cheque to us in the office: 323 Clifton Rd Ottawa K1Z 5V1, along with your contact information to facilitate receipts

Baobab is a registered charity with Revenue Canada (Canadian Charity Registration Number 86158 7095 RR0001), and tax receipts will be issued promptly for all contributions of $10 or more.

Erica Sher, Board Chair & Kathy Armstrong, Artistic Director

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Bobobo on Sunday

We performed this morning at a wonderful and progressive Presbyterian Church in Ottawa’s East End St David and St Martin’s Church.

About 18 members of the congregation met with me Friday night to work on some drumming. This interesting and diverse group included Elyse Holloway, mom of esteemed Baobab Youth alumnus, Dalton Holloway who was on the first trip Baobab took to Ghana and is featured in our film “Footsteps to Ghana” .

We put it together with Baobab Youth Performers this morning in about 20 minutes….a wonderful Ghana Alleluia Procession followed by a Kpanlogo from the workshop participants and then later a full Bobobo by Baobab Youth. Reverend George Zimmerman tied it all together with a short talk about drumming and music in worship through history. A highlight was meeting Mona Lisa, recently arrived from Ghana for a one year work term in Canada,  who sang the lead for Ghana Alleluia with me. What a treat! Special thanks to our practicum student Meaghan Cullen. Photos by Mike Gauthier.

Saints drummingProcessionSaints2Saints3Saints4ML&DEB&ELYSE

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First Gig of the season….

The weather has been SPECTACULAR here in Ottawa for the last couple of weeks and tonight Baobab Youth played our first gig of the season outdoors, as the sun was setting. It was the annual fall harvest potluck of the Ottawa Montessori School

We have four new members in Baobab Youth this season and two of them, Rory and Ana,  played their first performance ever with us tonight. Kudos to them!We did a full program which was a bit of a scramble since we have only had four rehearsals so far this year. But everyone rose to the occasion, as usual. We enjoyed involving the audience in some of our pieces, including Gota, Bell Forest and Kpanlogo. .

Many thanks to our Carleton U practicum student Meaghan Cullen!

Here are a few pics of the evening.

Montgig5Montgig4Montgig7Montgig6Montgig3Montgig7 Montgig2Montessorigig

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Camp Drumming!!!!


We have just finished a very fun & successful week at Rhythm Trek Camp. We had 13 kids enrolled from ages 7-13. We also had five outstanding volunteers, three from Baobab Youth Performers and two from the Carleton University Music Dept. I had a great time teaching the new version of Gota I learned this past May while  in Ghana…we even got some of the dancing down! Then guest instructor Dominic Donkor worked on hand drumming with the group, introducing some new parts and songs for Kpanlogo…we especially enjoyed singing about “me young girl”. Tuesday afternoon was a change of pace and we did some fabulous art with guest Maureen Clarke. Flower pot chimes….they sounded and looked gorgeous…a great way to make use of some of my old Ghanaian beads.
As always we try for lots of outside time, both in the park and the pool. It was a pretty nice week in all weather wise.

Friday lunch was our Ghanaian food celebration, introduced and cooked by Rory Magill. Delicious…and everyone seemed to really enjoy the food!

We did a final showing of the pieces for parents and friends on Friday afternoon. Very special thanks to the Nepean Rotary Club who made it possible for us to provide four fully subsidized spots for the camp. Everyone had a blast!

girls drumming drumming kdrumming talking with Dominic kids chimeskids painting2 shepainting outside1 outside 2 swim swing menus watermelon painting


And now a few words from the kids themselves:
“I liked the big wide open space”
“I liked the different pieces”
“I liked meeting all the helpers and Kathy & Dominic”
“I met new friends, I learned new things”
“Stick drumming is really fun!”
“I liked making chimes”

“On Wednesday we had lessons from the best drummer in the world!”
“I am definitely coming back!”

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End of Season Notes

Both the ROOTS kids and Baobab Youth were busy while I was away in Ghana in May. The ROOTS kids worked with Dominic Donkor for four sessions and gave an engaging open house performance at the end of May. We are lucky to have him around! He will be back for the Rhythm Trek Camp in the summer.

ROOTS May 2013Baobab Youth also worked with Dominic and learned a new piece, Sikyi,  which we will add to our repertoire. Baobab Youth member Emily, worked with Kathy to give workshops at the Ottawa Children’s Festival in early June….hot days and hot tents. But perfect for drumming!

Emily & Kathy

June was also the celebration month for our friends at Cantiamo Choir, directed by Jackie Hawley who were celebrating 10 years! They invited us to be part of their concert, for a large scale Gahu. Seemed fitting since they graced us with their fabulous singing at OUR 10th Anniversary concert in 2005!

Cantiamo anniversary June 2013 012

We finished the season with our Sankofa concert at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield. We presented our new piece Sikyi, led by Dominic Donkor which was well received. Dominic brought his friends Owuo Begine and Kwame Letsa and they did a great set on their own. Have a great summer….see you in the Fall!







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Kingston Tour!

Baobab Youth had a quick run out to Kingston, ON last weekend for an overnight trip and concert. We were invited to work with the Cantabile Choirs, longtime collaborators and friends of Baobab. Under the direction of Mark Sirrett and Marie Anderson, the choirs always demonstrate amazing musicianship and have an international reputation for their excellence.


The afternoon dress rehearsal gave us a chance to practice our set, and figure out how to adapt our dances to the space at Sydenham United Church. Then the choirs arrived and we did a dress rehearsal with all 100 of us for Gahu which was open to the public.

The youth choir prepared and served an amazing pot luck dinner for us all, then it was concert time.

The choirs sang a couple of sets and we performed a few of our pieces. Then, after intermission the full on Gahu happened beginning with our hatsiatsia. Great concert!






One sad milestone though… our beloved and ancient cricket for Bell Forest died and was unable to be resuscitated. We did everything we could. Bell Forest happened without it…during intermission we paid tribute and poured a libation for the deceased cricket….now we REALLY have to put the search on for a new one!


Next day we all walked on the waterfront and up Princess St. Stops at the famous Pan Chancho Café and a few small purchases.


Thanks for our parent drivers/chaperones: Lorie, Joanna, Russ and Jennifer.  Pictures courtesy of Russ Molot.

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