Cumbanchaartist Rocky Dawuni‘s latest album,Branches of the Same Treehas just been nominated for a GRAMMY in the Best Reggae Album category. Dawuni, the only non-Jamaican artist in the running this year and the first Ghanaian to be nominated, is up against some of the heavyweights of modern reggae with his Billboard Top 10 album.
Reflecting on the prestigious nomination, Dawuni says that he feels, “truly honored and at the same time humbled. I’ve always focused on giving my best in my work and it’s a good feeling to know that it is being appreciated. I am grateful for the recognition. Branches of the Same Treeis about stressing the common roots that we all share in this human family. It inspires the listener to aspire to a place of hope. It’s about having faith in the power of compassion and oneness.”
The final ballots to determine the GRAMMY winners are due by January 15th, 2016. If you are a voting member, we encourage you to include Rocky Dawunion your ballot. The 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards will broadcast live on CBS on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Afrodreamfest has come and gone but the glorious aftermath still linger in the hearts and souls of the attendees . Afrodreamfest, a touring concert to celebrate African Liberation Day ( #AfricaDay May 25) and promote upcoming talented neo~afro fusion artists in the diaspora took place this year (May 22 at Meridian 23 and May 23 at Silvana Harlem) in the vibrant city that never sleeps – New York City. It featured an eclectic line up of artists including myself (Afrosoul), Ayanbinrin – the female talking drummer (Afrofolk), Ogasilachi (AfroRnB), Eli Fola (AfroJazz), Laolu and The Afromysterics (Afrobeat), Aduke (Afrosoul) and bonus features Afro pop artistes – Ayo In Motion and Na!ra. To promote the event, you can also watch my Sahara radio interview with the Humble Prince here
Below is a heartfelt review by International Journalist Adanma Odefa in the selfie below 🙂
Afrodreamfest Experience in New York City
When a friend of mine told me about the Afrodreamfest in New York City, my first reaction was, ‘I might as well have an adventure, I’ve got nothing else to do!’. So I packed up and went to New York City from Washington DC not really expecting much. Although I had been in New York previously, the city didn’t fail in keeping me on my toes. Finally, we made it to Chelsea where the concert was holding.
My first thought was, ‘wow! What strong vocals! What powerful lyrics! What artistic sincerity!‘. This was the reaction the young lady Aduke evoked when she sang. Reeling from that, I sailed through several other performances including the beautiful ‘Naira’ who struck me as sleek, chic and distinct with her rap style. Naira effortlessly executed a marriage of American rap culture and African uniqueness.
The icing on cake for me was Ayanbirin. She has such a presence on stage that depicts Africanism in a way that was almost tangible. I gawked in awe as she dominated every single person in the room. Her power was all the more enchanting with her backup drummer and sidekick. Day one ended with dancing and exhaustion. I went back to my lodgings wondering what day two would bring.
By the end of day two, I was glad it was a two-day event. I had missed some of the performances from day one so I got the experience of fresh excitement. It was on this day that I got the opportunity of falling under the musical enchantress’s spell. Tosinger endeared me with her beautiful all African costume and her lively stage presence. Day two icing on the cake for me was AyoInMotion. I am not trustful of my capacity to put into words the powerful emotions this artist invoked in me. He reached deep into my soul and pulled out all things African within me and left me feeling sad for those who are unable to claim African roots.
Altogether, Afrodreamfest was precisely a dreamy artistic romance with Africa. I look forward to the next one with a barely contained feverish excitement.
Adanma Odefa International Journalist, Voice of America.
Ongoing for three years now, AfroDreamFest is an annual touring concert that celebrates and promotes neo afro-fusion artists/genres of music from the African continent in the diaspora to commemorate African Liberation Day. (May 25) . Previous ones were held in Atlanta and Houston and it is coming to NYC this year. For more about Afrodreamfest see – www.afrodreamfest.com
As the convener, I wanted to see a platform for afro-indie artists in the diaspora who make meaningful good music to come together and share a stage, it has been a journey and an ongoing one as the event continues to brand itself in the afro~diaspora traveling across select cities across America. As years go by, the hope is to have interested sponsors push it to a wider reach on a bigger stage with larger audiences who appreciate the afro fusion music these talented artists are putting out. Performing in New York on May 22 at world music venues Meridian 23 on Friday May 22 and on Saturday May 23 at Silvana respectively are Brooklyn based Afrobeat band ‘Laolu and The Afromysterics’, myself, Afrosoul/folk/acoustic music ‘Tosinger’, AfroRnB artist ‘Ogasilachi‘ , Afro Jazz Artist ‘Eli Fola’ and from Nigeria, Ayanbinrin- Africa’s foremost female Talking Drummer and a guest artist from Nigeria, afrosoul artist Aduke. Tickets are available online at $10 and will be $15 at the door. Doors open at 7.30pm and show starts 8pm till 11ish on both days. See you there if you are in New York, great way to spend the memorial day weekend holiday and enjoy/support good music. ~https://afrodreamfestnyc2015.eventbrite.com ~
Here’s a glimpse of what you will experience live.
Nigeria’s international musician, Bisade Ologunde popularly known as Lagbaja embarked on a month-long tour of the United States of America. The tour will see Lagbaja and his 8 piece Motherland band perform at 15 different cities. It ends on May 17, 2015 at Washington DC.
I will be opening for him in Atlanta on May 10 at the popular concert space – The Variety Playhouse. Click here for more info
Atlanta based, eclectic afrosoulful artist, Tosinger. opens for legendary afrobeat/afrojazz artist from Nigeria – Lagbaja on May 10 at 7pm at the Variety Playhouse, Atlanta
Windstorm Productions Proudly Presents
The first question that is often asked when Lágbájá is encountered is, “Why the mask?” Basically, Lágbájá’s mask is used as an icon of man’s facelessness.
Lágbájá is a Yoruba word that means somebody, nobody, anybody or everybody. It perfectly depicts the anonymity of the so called “common man”. The mask and the name symbolize the faceless, the voiceless in the society, particularly in Africa. Once you see Lágbájá’s mask you are reminded of your own facelessness. This symbolism is so powerful that Lágbájá’s mask has popularized the use of the mask concept by other artistes both in Nigeria and beyond.
Though the concept was developed long before that, his first album (entitled Lágbájá) was released to National acclaim in 1993. Over the years and more albums later, the music continues to fascinate with its unique focus on a core of African drums. His music is a product of various influences ranging from traditional Yoruba music to Jazz. Often the music is purely instrumental- an interplay between traditional Yoruba percussions, drums, chants, and western instruments, especially the saxophone. When there are lyrics, they are primarily sung in Yoruba, English or a blend of the two as is colloquially spoken in Yoruba cities. Many of his songs dwell on serious social issues, while others simply entertain. Some are dance inducing while others pass serious messages in humourous ways.
One thing that links all the songs together is his use of traditional African drums. Traditional Yoruba drums are the most prominent. Four families of these drums are employed in creating different grooves and moods. The dundun/gangan family is the most prominent and at times up to five drummers combine all the various components to create the polyrhythms. The bata ensemble is led by two musicians who alternate between soft high toned driving rhythms with their omele bata, and thunderous loud talk with their mum drum- iya ilu. The general percussionist leads the sakara ensemble. The fourth family, used as the backbone of the groove is the ogido, a derivative of the ancient gbedu. The ensemble of drummers constitute the larger part of the band. Vocalists and western instrumentalists make up the rest. Lágbájá’s groovy fusion has been refered to as afrojazz, afrobeat, higherlife and afropop until now that he himself has christened the music AFRICANO, alluding mostly to the central role of African drums and grooves in his music.
My idea behind AfroDreamFest was inspired by the passion to promote and give a platform to the new wave of indie African/AfroConscious/Afropolitan artists in the diaspora who do a variation of genres of Soul – Jazz – Roots – Folk – World – Afrobeat – Acoustic music laced with African elements, merging genres of music creatively and beautifully with Afro~cultural influences,musically and lyrically on a contemporary platform.
These are true Artists of African origin around the world who are this generation’s throwback to past eras of real meaningful music, keeping alive and making soulful music that is so uniquely creative and relevant across borders, infusing language and cultural aspects that reach for the soul and spirit.
The vision is to tour the concert across different cities annually around May 25, the commemoration of African Liberation Day. It is currently independently produced and is open to partnerships and sponsorships to further expand the concept and its reach. The response to the movement has been positive and encouraging so far. Indie Afro artists need the on-ground presence to share their talents, and promote culture. I am one of them so I feel the need to step out as a visionary and make it happen.
The first edition of Afrodreamfest took place at the Southwest Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
During my stint as an Editor-at-large for Applause Africa magazine, I wrote a feature on a darling pearl of Uganda, Hasifa Meriam Kivumbi, who is a dancer and a social entrepreneur with a touching story to tell, this would be the beginning of a budding sisterhood and an eventual program partnership in the coming weekend. I am so excited about the second edition of my Afrodreamfest project- Afrodreamfest Houston 2014 which will be a benefit concert/silent auction to support Hasifa’s platform/project Clean Water for Uganda and my new NGO – Adopt – A – Guitar. See flyer. Hasifa is the current, running Miss Uganda USA 2014 aiming for the Miss Africa USA 2014 crown. She undoubtedly has the beauty .. and the brains, the passion… and the drive to give back to the community and especially her continent.
Get to know Hasifa Meriam
Hasifa Meriam Kivumbi is the creator of 180 degrees, a non-profit organization with a mission to “create doors in places where there were once walls” through motivation, inspiration and celebration of personal achievements. As a representative of Uganda, she has taken on the challenge to partner with the Global Water Partnership in their efforts to create a water secure world by 2020 as her platform. In 2012, Miss Kivumbi was crowned Miss. UNAA (Uganda North American Association) and has since been working on bridging the gap in personal achievement between continental Africans and Africans in the Diaspora through 180 Degrees.
Miss Kivumbi has been serving her community for years and has received many accolades for her passion for life and compassion towards others. In 2012, she was named the year’s Local Hometown Hero by the Modern Woodmen of America Fraternal Organization. She has been highlighted for her talents in dance, writing and modeling in the New York magazine Applause Africa and has been featured in many beauty publications including BHF Fashion and Photography magazine.
Do not be fooled however, Miss Kivumbi is more than just a pretty face; she has a passion for learning and education. In 2010, she was initiated into the National Society of ‘Who is Who’ among American Students. In her professional life, she owns an independent beauty consulting business that she uses to motivate and inspire women to feel their most beautiful both inside and out. For three years now she has served as a website weaver for Helpothers.org, an online community of over 1 million participants. The website encourages people to change the world through small and random acts of kindness. She has served as the spokesperson for the Breast Cancer Initiative of East Africa and wishes to share her journey and experiences in humanitarianism in her upcoming book. Currently her energy is directed towards improving the lives of the people of her native Uganda with the Clean Water for Uganda Project
Hear her speak:
To follow Hasifa’s journey to become the next Miss Africa USA 2014, like her Facebook page here, and to support her CWUP platform click here.
You know I have a bias for ‘African World Music’ and of course being that the music that I make could easily fall into that category ( musically/lyrically) . So I follow the music and the news in that category of the entertainment industry closely. We will surely miss a legendary musician who paved the way and passed the baton of good African cultural music to the rest of us. Congolese Tabu Ley Rochereau made beautiful Afro-Highlife, Jazz, Africando music with Papa Wemba et al. It would be awesome to meet these legends and glean from them before they leave us, above all, the musical legacies they leave behind, live on.
Tabu Ley Rochereau (November 13, 1940 – November 30, 2013 ) was a musician from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was the leader of Orchestre Afrisa International and one of Africa’s most influential vocalists and prolific songwriters. Along with guitarist Dr Nico Kasanda, Tabu Ley pioneered Soukous; he internationalized his music by fusing elements of Congolese folk music with Cuban, Caribbean, and Latin American rumba (Source – Wiki)
As published on Standard Media –
“At 72 years Old, the legendary Tabu Ley passed on today while in a Belgium Hospital where he was undergoing treatment for a stroke that he had suffered in 2008, but had often been affecting his health. The performer, whose popular hits like Muzina, Maze and Sorozo rocked millions of fans in Africa, is a celebrated musician, whose songs continue to enjoy airplay years after they were released. Thanks to his massive contribution to African Music, Tabu Ley was recently in in Kinshasa to accept an award for his contribution to the country’s rich heritage and cultural diplomacy and was set to perform at a Gala Night today. News of his demise has thus left his fans saddened but despite the loss many still have tons of praises for his contribution to the African culture and Music. Having launched his career in Kinshasa in 1959 both as a composer, singer and dancer, in Joseph Kabasele’s African Jazz, Tabu Ley was one of the few of his generation of musicians, who included Joseph Kabasele, alias Grand Kallé or Nicolas Kasanda, alias Nico. When asked about his health state in a previous interview, Tabu Ley had said : “I feel very well as you can notice. As per my doctors, my health conditions are improving every day. The thing is that I have to accept my current condition with good-naturedness. I am 72 years old and find it normal to face some physical weaknesses. I am a Christian and trust in God,” . At the time of his death, Tabu Ley composed around 2,000 songs and produced 250 albums.”