This month Baobab Youth performed at a couple of local events, first for the Midezor Association Christmas gathering, where we performed for the Ewe speaking members from eastern Ontario and Quebec and the Canada’s Deputy High Commissioner from Ghana. Always fun and an amazing array of traditional food and Bobobo dancing to a DJ…..
Kathy Armstrong with Midezor President Alberta Lawson and Ghana Language and Culture School director, Sam Bonti-Ankomah
A few days later we performed at the Awesome Arts Celebration night, where we met and shared the stage with some amazing beat boxers, rappers, slam poets, other drummers, and just plain awesome kids!
Last night we had the ROOTS Open House to celebrate our Fall session. As luck would have it, Nani Agbeli was in town to work with our older Youth Performers, so he stopped in to hear the ROOTS kids play their Gahu, and do some mesmerizing drumming for them. The class continued on to give a short, but stellar performance of the pieces they have been working on this term, for family and friends….Bell Forest (emerging from the closet in the half light), Gahu drumming, Gahu dancing, and Kpanlogo singing and drumming. This class is dedicated and loving the drumming…I can’t wait to do more with them in the new year.
Yesterday we welcomed guest artist Nani Agbeli to Ottawa to begin his residency with Baobab Youth and Carleton University’s West African Rhythm Ensemble. Both groups are working towards our November 23 concert “Gahu, EH!” which will take place at Kailash Mitel Theatre on the Carleton Campus.
Nani is based in Boston where he teaches at Tufts University and Berklee. He is originally from the Ewe village of Kopeyia, near the border of Ghana and Togo and our ties with his extremely musical family go way back…..Nani is an exceptional performer and keeper of these traditions and we are very lucky to be able to work with him.
First off though, yesterday Baobab Youth performed a short and well received set at the Granny Fest, in support of their amazing work with the Stephen Lewis Foundation. We then piled into cars and went to meet Nani for an intensive workshop on Tokwoe and Gahu, the two focal points for the upcoming concert. Nani is a tough teacher by his own admission and made everyone work hard. Not only on the nuances and details of the drumming and dance but on the most elusive and critical keys to a great performance: expression and communication of their passion for the music. “I don’t FEEL you!” was a common comment from him, but by the end we were definitely putting it out there. Here are a few pics….
The group kicked off our season with an outdoor performance and hands-on drum petting zoo as part of our neighbourhood Taste of Wellington day last Saturday. We set up in front of our temporary rehearsal space at the Hintonburg Community Centre. The group is smaller this year since we said goodbye to some of our graduating members. But everyone is stepping up to the task of learning lead parts for drumming and dancing and moving outside their comfort zone to try different parts. Its going to be a very good year….
As most of you know we have been reorganizing over the last few months, which includes consolidating our drum collection, especially since we bought some new ones last summer in Ghana. We have a few drums and other instruments for sale that we no longer need. See below for pics & prices and let us know in the office if you would like to buy anything (613)729-0987 email@example.com
various Ewe stick drums, $75-$100 each
Sogo stick drums $200 each
As anyone knows who has been on a board or worked with a non-profit entity, having a committed and vibrant Board of Directors is really important to the running of a healthy and successful organization. We have always been proud of, and grateful to the individuals who, over the years, have generously given their time and expertise to Baobab’s endeavours. Last night we had a lovely end of year celebration dinner at one of the member’s homes. As we reflected on this year of decision making and budget challenges, we also recalled the great shows and programming that were possible. Next year will look a little different at Baobab…but as a living and breathing organization that has been around for 17 years, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
A big thank you to outgoing Chair Ian Brown, as well as all the members for this season: Hilary Clauson, Alison Clegg, Evie Gray, Carole Johnson, Nadine Powers and Claire Thompson. They have done an amazing job of helping to steer through some turbulent times. Akbesia!
2011-12 Baobab Board members with Hayley de Bie and Kathy Armstrong at an earlier event in the season
Well we’ve done lots and lots of unusual gigs in our 17 year history, but yesterday was our first one done outside under a flight path. It was an end of year performance for Agincourt Elementary School, and hundreds of kids gathered outside on blankets and towels with their hats and sunscreen on for our performance (last for us for this season). We had a small group, given that there were lots of things competing for our youth’s time…testing, exams, school trips etc….but this made the ones who were there work hard, play new parts and allowed the audience to really get to know them by name…Dan was a big hit with his big voice :). Our drumming sounds fabulous outside….where of course it was meant to be played…but every few minutes a jet would fly overhead and drown us out….kinda fun and novel. Later, Claire and Sara showed a few dance moves to one of the classes as they were leaving, and we all got high fives and “hey teenagers, great show” remarks on the way out. That’s it for the youth group until we start up again in September. Thanks to Hayley and parents for driving.