Kate Bryant, a long time drummer in Baobab Tree classes, as well as a donor and collaborator, passed away this past Saturday, after a struggle with cancer.
I heard the news of Kate’s passing, while we were on the Toronto Tour. It was just a couple of hours before I went into a concert of African music with the Jubilate Singers and the Youth Performers.
Although it was not unexpected, her death was received with tears and many fond memories. Just before the concert I told the kids the news and reminded them of the wonderful concert we all played together to our mutual benefit (Stephen Lewis Foundation and Footsteps to Ghana) in January 2010, the love of drumming Kate expressed and always shared, and her long time involvement with, and continued support of Baobab Tree.
I suggested to the kids that we dedicate the opening number Ghana Alleluia and Bobobo to Kate, as I told them of my lovely and engaging visit with her, a week ago Friday, where I played and sang Bobobo music, and she spontaneously joined me with great joy and energy in singing and even hitting the drum. The kids thought we should just dedicate the whole performance to her. OK with me!
We got through the Ghana Alleluia, and the drumming of Bobobo beautifully. Kate would have really enjoyed the whole project, as we were performing with an adult community choir, who were really just a little outside their comfort zone, learning the aural music of Southern and Western Africa for this performance. The final piece in the program, African Celebration, by Stephen Hatfield, contains mostly South African melodies, and at one point the drumming stops and the whole choir goes into a four part harmonic rendition of the South African National Anthem. We were certainly thinking of Kate then. What a great reminder of all the work she and her Capital Grannies (along with many others) have done for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and the love she showed to all of us, which came back to her in these last few months, as she was well taken care of in her final weeks.
Her spirit absolutely surrounds us, and I do not not doubt for a minute that her fierce dedication to drumming and community will live on in all of us.