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Master drummer Obo Addy will perform two concerts of West African music at Colby College in Waterville. On Friday, April 2, at 7 p.m. Addy will perform West African drumming and highlife (urban dance/party) music with master drummer Jordan Benissan, an applied music associate in Colby’s Department of Music, and Benissan’s band Sankofa. The concert will be in Given Auditorium of the Bixler Art and Music Center. On Saturday, April 3, at 4 p.m. Addy, Benissan and Sankofa will perform a second concert in Lorimer Chapel. Both concerts are free of charge and open to the public.
Addy, the son of a Wonche priest in Ghana, is a prominent member of the first generation of African musicians to bring their traditional and popular music to Europe and America. He has performed internationally for 30 years and is a seminal figure in the musical movement known as “Worldbeat.”
In 1969 the Arts Council of Ghana employed Addy as a Ga master of the national music. In 1972 Addy and his brothers performed at the Olympic Games in Munich. In 1978 he moved to the United States and settled in Portland, Ore. Addy and his wife, Susan, created Homowo African Arts and Cultures, a not-for-profit organization that holds an annual festival, which has introduced thousands of people to the music of Ghana.
Addy currently teaches music at Lewis and Clark College and Portland State University and leads two ensembles that tour nationally–Okropong, dedicated to traditional tribal music and dance of Ghana, and Kukrudu, which performs his original music. In 1996 Addy became the first African-born artist to receive the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Benissan, a native of Togo and member of the Ewe ethnic group, teaches African drumming at Colby. Benissan and Addy both are master drummers–teachers, oral historians and custodians of their peoples’ heritages.
Editor’s note: Obo Addy will be in Waterville beginning March 30 and will be conducting workshops in local schools. Please contact James Webb (207-872-3279) for more information or to arrange an interview.