BAPMAF: The Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation (BAPMAF) is a Ghanaian NGO established in 1990 by Professor John Collins. BAPMAF’s function is to preserve African popular & traditional performance and provide a resource centre for arts projects in Ghana and the international community.
BAPMAF archival holdings include 700 photographs, 700 publications, as well as many rare documents, speeches, posters, and record sleeves; 40 videos and 850 hours of recorded music, including 700 highlife songs on shellac 78 rpm records and master-tapes of Ghanaian bands recorded at Bokoor Recording Studio in the 1980’s.
THE FLOOD: Devastation struck Oct. 26 2011 when the BAPMAF building and surrounding area was flooded during heavy rains. Six feet of water entered BAPMAF premises as well as John Collins’ private residence. John’s family narrowly escaped drowning. The building and area are now too dangerous for human habitation. There is a considerable loss of archival holdings, electronic equipment, and personal property.
JOHN COLLINS is a musician, author, producer, recording engineer, and the Acting Chairman of BAPMAF. John has been involved in Ghanaian music since 1969. In the 1980’s he opened Bokoor Recording Studio, Ghana’s first private multitrack facility. He has recorded and worked with many of West Africa’s great musicians, including: Fela Kuti, Koo Nimo, King Bruce, and Kwaa Mensah.
John Collins is currently a Full Professor in the Music Department of the University of Ghana. His books include: FELA Kalakuta Notes, African Pop Roots, and Music Makers of West Africa. Music recorded at Bokoor Studio can be heard on Electric Highlife (Naxos), The Guitar and Gun (Sterns/Earthworks), Vintage Palmwine (Otrabanda).
AFRAFRANTO means Butterfly in the Akan language of Ghana, West Africa. The group features three JUNO award-winning members of the African Guitar Summit: Theo Yaw Boakye, Pa Joe and Kofi Ackah along with Ebenezer Agyekum, Sam Donkah, Marshall, Booker T and Quandoh.
Poet Kwame Stephens will mark this occasion with a new piece, "Highlife’s Journey".
Mali’s Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba have deep roots in the griot tradition. The ngoni drives the band’s energetic live performances. When four of them are joined by the calabash, percussion and vocalist Amy Sacko’s transcendent voice, the pulsing, hypnotic sound compels audiences to dance.
The Djeli/Griot's Ngoni 101 bio-documentary made for Segu Blue, 2007 (two parts) Out Here Records
Bassekou Kouyaté is a virtuoso picker and musical visionary whose work blurs the lines between West African and American roots music. The ngoni, his instrument, is a ‘spike lute’ and an ancestor of the banjo, sharing its taut-skinned drum body, percussive attack, and varied picking techniques.
Bassekou is a true master of the ngoni and he has collaborated with many musicians in and outside of Mali. He was part of Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabaté’s Kulanjan project, as well as being one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure’s posthumous album Savane (2006). He also toured and recorded with Bela Fleck on the Grammy winner ‘Throw Down Your Heart’.
an interview with Banning Eyre on Afropop Worldwide
Bassekou was born in a village called Garana, 40 miles from Segu in the remote countryside on the banks of the Niger River. He was raised in a traditional music environment, his mother a praise singer and his father and brothers exceptional ngoni players. Bassekou moved to Bamako when he was 19 years old where he met the young Toumani Diabaté. By the late 1980’s Bassekou was part of Toumani’s trio and they recorded their first albums together, ‘Songhai’ and ‘Djelika’. Bassekou married the singer Ami Sacko, the ‘Tina Turner of Mali', and they have been in high demand for the traditional Sunday wedding parties in the streets of Bamako.
In 2005, Bassekou formed Ngoni Ba, the first-ever group built around not one but four ngonis of different sizes, all played by members of his family. Its repertoire is from the region of Segu, the heart of Bambara culture. Unlike Mandinka griot music, Bambara music is pentatonic in nature, music as close to the blues as you can get in Africa.
Bringing the ngoni from the palace to the people, a global griot rocks his roots!
Segu Blue, his debut as a band leader, won the 2007 BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music as Best Album. It was followed in 2009 with I Speak Fula - 11 tracks providing a star-studded tour of pan-Malian music, including contributions from Toumani Diabaté, griot vocal legend Kasse Mady Diabaté, master of the horse-hair soku fiddle Zoumana Tereta, and guitar phenomenon Vieux Farke Toure, Ali’s talented son. I Speak Fula was nominated for the 2010 Grammy for Best Traditional World Music Album, ironically won by a Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabaté collaboration).
The opening act is Eritrean-Canadian Daniel Nebiat, who sings and plays the krar - a traditional stringed instrument similar to the harp, tuned to a pentatonic scale and in Daniel’s case, amplified. His music combines both traditional and modern forms of Eritrean music.
Founded by Nigerian dance educator, performer and choreographer Sani-Abu Mohammed Allen, Toronto's ijo vudu Dance International is a performing company of professional dancers and drummers from diverse backgrounds, on a journey to experience and share the joy and spirit of traditional African music and dance. In the traditional language of the Yoruba people, ijo vudu (ee-joh-voo-doo) refers to the transcendent spirit in dance.
Batuki Music Society and Small World Music Society present
Thursday, September 29, 2011 at the Lula Lounge
"Sidi Touré is a worthy successor to Ali Farka Touré. Among Songhaï musicians, Sidi is the best. Sidi Touré has all the talent, quality, simplicity, playing and singing skills; it's incredible. We need people like Sidi."
Bassekou Kouyaté, 2010 Grammy Award nominee
Sidi Touré is a singer-songwriter from Mali who has garnered global acclaim for thought provoking songs that honour African sonic traditions in a manner that appeals to listeners from any continent.
Born in 1959 in the ancient town of Gao, Mali, he made his first guitar as a child, constructing it from his wooden writing slate. Growing up, Sidi Touré faced a conflict between the inexorable pull of music and the expectations of family and society, plus the significance and onus of a past that came with being born into a noble family. The Touré family had been sung about, and sung to, by traditional griots for centuries, but until Sidi challenged the rules as a small boy, the Tourés did not sing.
Throughout his time making music, Sidi’s sound has both captured and challenged his roots. His music moves from the translucent swaying takamba to the trance inducing Holley, while the lyrics often address many non-traditional issues. Sidi has a critical mind and his songs have a purpose. His just-released album, ‘Sahel Folk’, a SPIN pick, features spontaneously recorded duets with other Malian musicians.
Small World Music Festival: Sidi Touré
Lula Lounge 1585 Dundas St. West, Toronto For dinner reservations 416 588 0307
The concert features a lineup of some of Toronto’s popular African artists: Henok Abebe, Kooshin, Faduma Nakruma, Daniel Nebiat, Donné Roberts, Kemer Yousef, Njacko Backo and Val, Sonia Aimy, Ijovudu Dance, Hussein Adani, Yared Tesfaye, DJ Apollo and more. Many of the musicians performing hail from the countries severely affected by the famine (Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya) and are joining hands with Batuki Music Society to raise funds and public awareness. 100% of proceeds from the ‘Msaada’ concert will benefit the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders Horn of Africa Crisis campaign. All donations will be matched by the Government of Canada's East Africa Drought Relief Fund.
A wide swath of East Africa that includes Kenya and Ethiopia has been hit by years of drought, and regions of Somalia are suffering from the worst famine in 20 years, over 3 million people starving. Years of conflict in southern Somalia have exacerbated the emergency, preventing aid agencies from helping communities in the area. Thousands of Somalis have fled mainly to Kenya and Ethiopia, with many dying during the journey.
Your donations are valuable. We have a real opportunity to save lives through emergency relief efforts in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Our hope is that Canadians will learn more about this crisis and donate funds to help those in need.
PWYC... suggested donation $15
Every dollar counts.... asante, shukran, thank you, merci!
featured performer, Henok Abebe from Ethiopia: Keberchacha
Written by Simba
Batuki Music Society presents
Ambuya Stella Chiweshe and the Chivanhu Band
Sunday, August 21, 2011 at the Lula Lounge
The Mbira Queen of Zimbabwe
The remarkable Stella Rambisai Chiweshe, known worldwide as the ‘Queen of Mbira’ is an acclaimed virtuoso of the mbira, a sacred instrument central to Zimbabwean Shona culture. The original mbira consists of 22 metal keys but nowadays mbira players have added a few more to 28 keys fixed on a small wooden board made from a special healing tree. Originally, for resonance the instrument is wedged with a stick from a special mind cleansing tree. The keys are played with the right forefinger and the two thumbs. Chiweshe is one of the few musicians in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa who have worked for over 35 years in the role of mbira musician, dancer, instructor, and traditional spiritual advisor.
Born in Mujumhi, a village in Mhondoro Zimbabwe, the woman now known by her people as ‘Ambuya Chinyakare’ (Grandmother of Traditional Music) began drumming at the age of eight and attended her first mbira ceremony at 16 years old. When Zimbabwe was still a British colony (Rhodesia), Chiweshe played at forbidden ceremonies before returning to her job as a young maid. The colonial government banned the instrument fearing its magical powers, and playing mbira was punishable with prison. At the time, local missionaries called mbira music “Satan’s work”. Even her own people told her that it was taboo, an instrument that a woman could never play. Yet by the mid-sixties, she had become recognized as a gifted maridzambira (mbira player), playing at healing ceremonies, funerals, concerts and important parties and her debut single, ‘Kasahwa’, had gone gold.
After independence she was asked to join the National Dance Company of Zimbabwe, where she took the role of a leading mbira soloist, dancer and actress and toured throughout Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Australia, China, India, Korea and Europe. She left the National Dance Company in 1985 when requests for her to play solo had expanded. Her solo work has established her as one of the most original artists in the contemporary African scene using popular music to show the depth and power of her traditional spiritual music at home and abroad. Chiweshe has accumulated an extensive discography of 22 singles and 7 international albums. Regular European and North American touring, plus notable appearances at Womad festivals have helped to keep her long career as a performer, educator and healer alive and vibrant.
Stella Chiweshe will be backed by her Toronto-based Chivanhu Band: Mutamba Rainos on mbira, Pasipamire Gunguwo on marimba, Tichaona Maredza on marimba and guitar, Tichaona Gombiro on bass guitar, and Gordin Mapika on drums.
The Mandinka Empire was one of the most powerful empires in West Africa whose areas stretched over a region that includes big chunks of present day Mali, Benin, Senegal, Guinea and Gambia. The legendary Sundiata Keita founded the great Mandinka Empire; a rich culture and tradition has survived many generations. The exploits of Sundiata Keita are being retold by griots in song. This oral tradition of story-telling through music has influenced many musicians in West Africa, the same is true of their counterparts here in Canada. Kabakuwo is a band that is continuing this rare and rich tradition.
Kabakuwo, a group whose name means ‘fantastic’, created in 2007 by five musicians with a keen interest in Mandinka culture: Sadio Sissokho (Senegal) on percussion and vocals, Diely Mori Tounkara (Mali) on kora and guitar, Cédric Dind-Lavoie (Quebec) on double bass and electric bass, Jean Sebastian Nicol (Quebec) on drums and Estelle Lavoie (Quebec) on kora and guitar.
All experienced in several African musical styles, they took on the challenge of exploring traditional Mandinka music. In addition to traditional pieces, the group’s repertoire includes original creations with influences ranging from Latin beats and reggae but, above all, encompassing rhythms from Senegal and Mali. Together, the musicians take on each traditional piece with integrity and respect for its origin but also with the inventiveness and inspiration that is allowed by this free instrumentation. The double bass and the koras switch between accompanist and solo roles, supported by percussion. In other pieces, they let the griot tell his stories and allow his voice to be heard, praising Mandinka kings. Kabakuwo is like a trip back in time, deep in the heart of West Africa, but with a sound that is unique and modern.
The group has performed at several festivals such as Festival Interculturel de Rawdon, Les Francofolies de Montréal, Festival International de Cinema Vues D’Afrique, and last year at Festival International Nuits d’Afrique. Also in 2010, Kabakuwo took first place among 36 groups, in Les Syli d'Or de la Musique du Monde, the annual competition organized by Productions Nuits d'Afrique in Montréal. Later the same year, the group released its first album "Malongtin", available on iTunes, and at zik.ca and espace-emergence.
Batuki Music Society presents Okavango: An African Orchestra April 15, 2011 at the Gladstone Hotel.
Fresh off their triumphant debut, Okavango: An African Orchestra returns for an encore performance!
Okavango: An African Orchestra is an ambitious new musical project that could happen only in a great multicultural city like Toronto. Batuki Music Society Artistic Director Nadine McNulty has assembled a cast of seven accomplished African-born musicians who now live in Toronto and Montreal: Daniel Nebiat (Eritrean Krar), Pasipamire Gunguwo (Zimbabwean marimba/mbira), Donne Roberts (Malagasy guitarist), Nuudi Kooshin (Somali kaban), Waleed Abdulhamid (Sudanese bass/guembri), Sadio Sissokho (Senegalese kora/percussion) and Walter Maclean (Ghanaian percussion). The musical friendships formed with hard work over months of rehearsals, culminated into a cohesive ensemble which was enthusiastically received by the sold-out audience at the Glenn Gould Studio on February 25.
That triumphant debut can relived online, streaming from CBC Radio 2 Concerts On Demand. It will be aired nationwide twice on Canada Live, which co-presented the concert, on Wednesday, April 20 at 7:00 pm on CBC Radio 2 (94.1 FM in Toronto), and on Friday, April 22 at 2:00 pm on CBC Radio One (Toronto: 99.1 FM).
The orchestra takes its name from the Okavango Delta, a basin in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, where many different animal species come together to feed and find water. Predators and prey are forced to coexist and share the meager resources because of the harsh environment around them. Similarly, Okavango: An African Orchestra brings together the traditional music and instruments of several major African cultures that historically have had little or no interaction. The musicians of Okavango have created a common meeting place for these disparate cultures, and a new musical language that harmonizes their different tuning systems, rhythms, and timbres. The multicultural spirit of modern-day Canada bridges ancient African solitudes.
Okavango: An African Orchestra will be joined onstage for its encore performance at the Gladstone Hotel by a special guest: Saba of Jaivah (Nouvel Exposé) Dance Troupe, a Toronto dance company specializing in traditional and contemporary dance from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo, Southern Africa and Egypt. Ethiopian-born Saba is a versatile and innovative dancer, choreographer and instructor known for her uniqueness in many traditional and fusion dance styles.
Okavango: An African Orchestra - 13 instruments, 10 languages, 7 countries... one special concert!
Where:Gladstone Hotel, the Ballroom at 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto. Date: April 15, 2011 Time: show 9 PM | doors 8 PM Admission: $20 at the door | $15 in advance
Friday March 25, 2011 • The Music Gallery presents
ETHIO T.O. Featuring Girma Woldemichael’s Ethio Fidel + Canaille with Isla Craig Part of the New World Series Toronto shows its love for the exotic, pentatonic jazz-funk of Ethiopia and Eritrea Co-presented with Batuki Music Society Doors: 7pm, concert 8pm Tickets: $15 regular, $10 member, senior + student Or $12 advance at Rotate This, Soundscapes & Ticketweb.ca Location: The Music Gallery, 197 John St. Info: 416-204-1080 • www.musicgallery.org
Over the past decade, “The Golden Age” of Ethiopian sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s has been brought closer to the mainstream by high-profile fans as diverse as Jim Jarmusch, Budos BandandKanye West, all enchanted by its exotic combination of funky rhythms and eerie pentatonic modes. Artists of that era, most notably Mulatu Astatke, have benefitted from this international attention.
Toronto contains the second largest Ethiopian population in North America, and the sounds of Ethiopia and Eritrea hold a special place in the city’s musical landscape. Moreover, the community has a very visible downtown presence in Bloorcourt Village. This is likely a contributing factor in its rich musical traditions resonating with the high concentration of musicians of all stripes living in the neighbourhood. If you’ve experienced a night out in one of Bloor and Ossington’s clubs, chances are you’ve seen bands featuring Girma Wolde Michael.
Girma Woldemichael’s Ethio Fidel
A saxophonist who studied with Mulatu Astatke and Getachew Mekuria (who performed in Toronto with The Ex in 2009), Wolde Michael is one of many musicians from the Golden Age residing in the GTA. Girma is the first-call bandleader for visiting stars such as Mahmoud Ahmed, and also leads the Ethio Stars band. He will be drawing from the repertoire of the Golden Age with his Ethio Fidel band for this Music Gallery presentation.
Canaille with Isla Craig
Canaille is a sympathetic opening act. Jeremy Strachan and his jazz quintet’s debut album Potential Things (Standard Form, 2010) is strongly influenced by Ethiopian horn arrangements and melodies. Now incorporating keyboards which underline its “Eastern” sound, Canaille has finished recording its second disc to be released soon. Joining the band for this show is versatile, globally proficient vocalist Isla Craig.
Written by Batuki Music Society
Batuki Music Society and Small World Music are proud to present the Toronto premiere of
Following in the footsteps of his musical mentor, Alpha Blondy, Tiken Jah Fakoly has established himself as one of the figureheads of the reggae scene in Africa. Fusing his infectious reggae beat with hard-hitting lyrics Fakoly has become a spokesperson for an entire generation of music fans, speaking out on political and social issues through his songs. His huge success in France, where he has sold over 100,000 albums has propelled him to currently be the best selling African Reggae artist.
Tiken Jah Fakoly plays music "to wake up the consciences". His music speaks about many injustices done to the people of Ivory Coast, his country, and those over Africa. As such, many African listeners feel a deep affinity with his lyrics as Fakoly speaks for oppressed people. This connection has helped make Tiken Jah Fakoly a much-listened artist throughout the world.
His new album African Revolution is exactly what it claims to be: African and revolutionary. Before anything else he is revolutionary in his method of work. A trip to Tuff Gong, Bob Marley’s studio in Kingston, was inevitable to place these three rhythmic sizes: Glen Browne (bass), Marc Dawson (drum kit) and Mickey Chung (guitar). Then there was Bamako. It is there in his studio that he concocted the music on the border of reggae and the mandingue blues. The magic tones of ngoni, kora, soukou (violin with one string) and balafon were familiar to us, but Tiken Jah Fakoly knew how to capture their soul. African Revolution stands out as a ranging-milestone, not only for the artist, yet for all the reggae stages. A breath of fresh air, an example that will hand out the grain to grind an all-new generation...
When: February 25, 2011 at 8pm. Where: Glenn Gould - (CBC) at 250 Front St. West, Toronto. Admission: $25 tickets on sale at Glenn Gould Studio or 416-872-4255.
The idea is to harmonize several musical instruments that many African artists use to create music. The instruments are used in a variety of musical genres from North Africa, East, Central, South and West Africa.
This concert has never been attempted before; the idea came into fruition based on the concept of the Okavango Delta, a basin in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana where animals come to graze and drink water. Animals of prey as well as predators are forced to coexist and share the meager resources because of the harsh environment around them. Similarly, musicians in West Africa who usually play the kora, balafon or drums would not use an instrument from East Africa such as the krar to create music or vice versa. A Malian kora for instance would sound alien to a farmer in the Ethiopian highlands who is used to the one string fiddle, ‘masenko’. Hence, the theme ‘Okavango’ represents a meeting place of these various African instruments to create a sound that accommodate the different nuances, tones and rhythms of these instruments in an orchestra setting. We believe this is the introduction of a new voice into African music.
Okavango African Orchestra will feature some of the local African musicians performing for the first time in an orchestra setting with traditional and contemporary instruments. The Orchestra will compose of; Daniel Nebiat (Eritrea krar), Pasipamire Gunguwo (Zimbabwe marimba and mbira), Donne Roberts (Madagascar guitar), Nuudi Kooshin (Somali kaban), Sadio Sissoko (Senegal kora), Waleed Abdulhamid (Sudan bass and guembri) and Walter Maclean (Ghana percussion).
Batuki Music Society would like to curate Okavango to help foster the development of local African artists and to explore new artistic work.
When: February 25, 2011 at 8pm. Where: Glenn Gould - (CBC) at 250 Front St. West, Toronto. Admission: $25 tickets on sale at Glenn Gould Studio or 416-872-4255.