Musicians and Performers

Solo Artists


Mohammed Alidu

www.mohammedalidu.com

Mohammed Alidu, born into the heralded 1000+ year Bizung family lineage of talking drum chiefs, has been making music since he was three years old. Originally from Tamale, Ghana, he has since traveled the world playing his drum with artists such as Peter Gabriel and Baaba Maal, Michael Franti, Ziggy Marley, and Keb’ Mo’, and at international festivals, a presidential inauguration, and even at Buckingham Palace for the Queen of England. He has played on every continent besides Antarctica and in addition to having his own band is also a member of the global music collective, Playing for Change Band. In 2007, he released the African Traditional Music CD, Asisawa, celebrating his culture’s long heritage, the 10 tracks a story in ancient, passed-down rhythms. 2010 brought the highly acclaimed Land of Fire, released as Mohammed Alidu and the Bizung Family, where he first began to merge his mastery of talking drum histories with new rhythms and a backing band from the U.S. Despite his extensive travels the music and culture of Ghana are on his mind and close to his heart through his work with the first tuition-free music school that he built in his hometown with the help of the Playing For Change Foundation. The Bizung School of Music and Dance, where he serves as director and teaches part time, is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the Northern Region. The school is thriving with over 150 students registered.

Habib Iddrisu, Ph.D.

Dr. Habib Iddrisu is a traditionally trained dancer and musician, born into the Dagomba/ Dagbamba Bizung/Bizing family of court historians and musicians in Tamale in Northern Ghana. His grandfather, Mangulli-Lana Adam Alhassan, was a chief drummer. Growing up in the drummer’s home, Habib was inspired by his grandfather and great uncles, many of whom were famous drummers and dancers. At age 14, Habib led his peers to start one of the most prestigious traditional music and dance groups in Tamale (Youth Home Cultural Group). In 1993, Habib won the ECRAG/ACRAG award as Ghana’s Best Dancer. His work in Ghana is remembered for his leadership of the Norvisi Dance Group, lead drummer and choreographer of Abibigromma, and choreographer of numerous other groups and events, including the welcoming group for President Bill Clinton’s visit to Ghana in 1998. He also toured the world extensively with many groups. Habib recently received his Ph.D. in performance studies from Northwestern University, where he also founded the university’s African Drum and Dance Ensemble. He also served as a Presidential Fellow for SUNY Brockport in African Studies and Dance. Habib has his M.A. and B.A. degrees in African History and Africana Studies from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. In 2002, Habib’s version of South African gumboot dance was selected and presented at the National American College Dance Festival (ACDF) at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. His awards also include, “Outstanding International Student Award-BGSU,” and “Outstanding Graduate Student Award-Northwestern University.”

Mashud Neindow

Mashud Neindow was born in Tamale Ghana where he was born into the “Talking drum” (Lunga) drumming family and was formally trained on all indigenous instruments to include the Lunga since the age of six. Neindow was recruited for the National Dance Company in 1993 because of his expertise in playing the Lunga and while with the company he performed for such dignitaries as President Bill Clinton and The Queen of England. He spent 13 years at the National Dance Company at which time his experience helped him to travel to the United States, performing in the 1996 Olympics, Dance African in 1995, as well as teaching and performing at various colleges. Neindow has also traveled internationally to countries such as Nigeria, Karta, Germany, Zimbabwe, Martinique, France, and England. He arrived in the United States in 2005 to teach and perform with the Homowo African Arts and Cultures. Since then Neindow has branched out on his own as well as started working with Okiadja Afroso and Shokoto.

Abdallah Zablong Zakariah

Zablong Abdallah Zakariah was born into the hereditary family of drummers in Dagbon, Ghana. Also known as Sampahi-Naa, he is an Assistant and Deputy Chief Drummer of the Dagbamba community of Madina, Accra. His father was Zablong, the chief drummer of Zabzugu in northern Ghana.

He is currently a music and dance lecturer at the Institute of African Studies. An Assistant performer at the Ghana Dance Ensemble at University of Ghana at Legon. Sampahi-Naa is also a part–time lecturer in traditional history of Dagbon at Methodist University College Ghana. In 2008 he was a visiting artist at a number United States’ academic institutions including University of Richmond, University of Virginia Collegiate School, College of William and Mary, Wesleyan University all in U.S.A.

Zo-simli Lun-naa Yakubu

Mr. Yakubu is the chief drummer for Susan Herlin, an American woman from Louisville Kentucky who holds the chieftaincy position of “Friendship Chief” (Zo-Simli-Naa).  He is a prominent radio personality in Ghana, where he hosts a program on traditonal culture of the Northern Region.

Sherifa Gunu

Sherifa Gunu is described by many as crowd shaker, puller, and a real performer when it comes to singing and dancing. Sherifa Gunu will always leave an impression in the minds of anyone who comes into contact with her. Born as a princess into a royal family of Dagbon, in the Northern part of Ghana, Sherifa started her dancing and music career at a very young age. After she left the classroom, she took part in various dancing competitions at the regional and national level. Sherifa was at one time the dance champion for the northern region, and first runner up for the 1998 National Dance Championship, then known as The Embassy Pleasure.

She moved on steadily until 2003 when she had the opportunity to take part in the hip life dance championship. The likes of King Ayisoba and Terry Bonchaka were among a host of other talented dancers and musicians that were discovered in that competition. Her emergence as first runner up to Bonchaka led to a series of collaborations among her, Bonchaka, and Ayisoba. They performed at various events and functions.

She later did some backings for artistes like Kojo Antwi, Amakye Dede, Daddy Lumba, and Nana Acheampong. Sherifa has two albums to her credit so far.

Ahmed Adam

Born in Tamale, Ahmed Adam is a renowned northern Ghanaian actor, musician, director, and producer. Adam has established himself as one of the leading actors and musicians in the Northern Film Industry, Among his artistic productions, he has produced “Sohi Biegu” (“Who knows tomorrow”) as his movie which debut in 1992. In 1997, he made his music breakthrough with an Album entitled “Maina”. Currently, Ahmed is the only actor and musician in northern Ghana who has had a hit in all his films and music albums. He is popularly known as Mr. Razak.

Sulley Imoro

www.sulleyimoro.com

Sulley Imoro began learning African drumming and dance from his father when he was 8 years old. His father, also a popular dancer, was known throughout Ghana. Sulley was eager to follow in his father’s footsteps. “Anytime in the village when we didn’t have entertainment, Father would bring the drums out and play,” he said. “Sometimes we didn’t have light in the village, and if the moon was bright, we would come together and play and dance.” Since that time, Sulley has become a renowned performer and teacher of traditional Dagomba drum, dance, and song.

Currently, Sulley (pronounced “soo’-lay”) is the director and founder of the Mbangba Cultural Troupe of Ashemie and the Degara Bewaa Culture group of Tamale, and is an instructor for the dance ensemble at the University of Ghana at Legon. He has also served as a dance instructor for the Dagara Music and Arts Center in Medie, Ghana and as the assistant director of the Saakumu Dance Troupe. In addition, for more than 20 years Sulley has taught African drumming and dance classes in Ghana and at American colleges, and has performed throughout Africa, Europe, and the United States. In Ghana, whenever there is a high-profile visitor, including former United States President Bill Clinton, the Ambassador calls Imoro and his ensemble to dance in front of crowds that can reach into the thousands.

Hajjia Mavis Fati Munkaila

Mrs. Munkai is the official spokesperson, or “Wulana”, for Chief Susan Herlin. For more than two decades, Hajjia Fati has served as the director of the Home Science Department at the most important high school in the Northern Region of Ghana and has trained countless young African women in modern methods of nutrition, health, and child care.

Bands

African Showboyz

www.africanshowboyz.com

Brothers Napoleon, Joseph, Moses, Isaac and JJ Sabbah, all brothers are the African Showboyz. The boyz were born and raised in Binaba, a small village in the northeast region of Ghana, West Africa. In Binaba, it is the way of the village for the men to marry multiple wives. The Showboyz are born from the same mother and the same father, though collectively there are 54 children in their father’s line. Napoleon, the elder of the brothers, received a vision from his grandfather named Apabum Abugri during a juju practice at a very young age. He was to embark on a world journey in an effort to bring recognition to the suffrage of the African people and feed his ever- growing family. Napolean engaged Joseph, his next of kin and “backbone’’, and together they made instruments from thigh bones and hides of village kills that had been given to the chief ’s palace. Isaac was taught village dances to accompany Napoleon’s kone and Joseph’s siyak, and in 1983 the three Sabbah children set out on two bicycles to play for neighboring villages. In 1987, Isaac learned the bind douk and JJ and Moses were added, playing the bin bill and tonton sanson, and the African Showboyz emerged as Africa’s pentacle of conscious musicians. They began touring neighboring countries and performed before enthusiastic audiences in Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Fasso, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Libya, and Cote d’ Ivoire, while collaborating with Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti, Alpha Blondy, Freddie Meiwey, Ras Kimono, and Stevie Wonder. It is fascinating to note that while touring in Africa, the brothers carried no documentation but simply performed for immigration officials at the borders and were permitted access.

Mohammed Alidu and the Bizung Family

www.reverbnation.com/mohammedalidu

Mohammed Alidu laid the foundation for the Bizung Family during a year’s sojourn in Madagascar where the influence of Western music and traditional culture inspired him to begin writing original music and performing and recording with local artists, such as the brilliant Malagassy guitarist, Dede. This music formed the basis of what would become Land of Fire as Alidu relocated to Boulder, CO and met musical soulmate Matt Wasowski, a guitarist and school teacher with whom Alidu instantly clicked. Alidu and Wasowski revamped the ‘Malagassy Demos,’ and recruited songwriter/bassist/guitarist John “Frikus” Welch and established The Bizung Family. Utilizing the depths of the Boulder music scene, the boys began recording the revamped music. During production, the multi-talented percussionist/producer Jonny Jyemo joined the fray, adding the talents that would complete the band’s nucleus.

Bringing it all back home to the heart, Mohammed Alidu and the Bizung Family launched “Land of Fire” at the King’s Palace in Tamale on New Year’s Eve this year. While traveling through Ghana together, ‘family’ members also organized and launched a guitar program at the Bizung School of Music and Dance, a free, after-school arts program established by Alidu (and the Playing For Change Foundation) in his hometown. Already nearing the completion of their second album, The Bizung Family carries it’s torch forward; writing, recording and performing music that touches the heart, sparks the mind, moves the body and sets the soul on fire.  Wrote The Fader, “To this day, fusing rhythms and mixing genres is at the core of his work. It’s impossible to pinpoint where he is from when you listen to his album, “Land of Fire”…artists like Mohammed Alidu continue to build bridges, both between musical genres and between people.”

 

7in1 for PEACE (2012)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY-G1s69yxg

7in1 for Peace is a collaboration of solo and group artistes who came together in 2002 to respond artistically to the Dagbon chieftaincy crisis of that year, which resulted in the Death of the Yaa-Naa and about forty of his elders at the Gbewaa palace in Yendi. All of the members of this group were already established and popular acts in their own right in the north of Ghana when they came into this collaboration.

The primary aim then was to contribute to peace building in Ghana (especially Dagbon) through music. The group accomplished its first project in the recording of a peace song in Dagbani entitled “Nangban’yini”, in collaboration and sponsorship from an Accra-based television station, Metropolitan Television (Metro TV). With a music video quickly put together through the instrumentality of Talal Fatal (CEO of Metro TV), the song enjoyed so much airplay that people of all ages sang along with it, even if they had no idea what language it was in. The success of Nangban’yini on TV and radio across Ghana won the group a publishing deal for a full album with I. K. Music Productions (a Tamale based publisher), and a huge open air launch of the album at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, bringing together thousands of fans from all walks of life.

Upon its initial success, the group then expanded its artistic contributions to cover all issues of national importance and development. The year 2006 saw the second major project from the 7in1 for Peace-the recording of another album-this time in support of the senior national male soccer team The Black Stars, when they qualified for the World Cup in Germany.

The members of the 7in1 for Peace include the following artistes:

Sirina Issah

A singer, composer, and pride of Northern Ghana, Sirina Issah was born with lyrics and music. Sirina begun singing at age eight. In December 1993 she brought Northern music to a high level by promoting it throughout the whole Ghana. She released her first album called; CHEER THE STARS. The first track in this album was dedicated to the Black Stars, Ghana national team in soccer. Sirina has ten albums to her credit and she is currently working on her eleventh album. She embodies the voice of the speechless and the weak, especially women and children. A role–model to many musicians in Northern Ghana, in 1994 she played her first major concert in Tamale, and has ever since toured the ten regions in Ghana. She is among the artists who introduced Dagban music internationally with concerts in Burkina Faso in 1994, Republic of Togo in 1996, as well in the U.S.A in 2000. In 2004 she was a recipient of the union of the youth Association award in Tamale, and a best female artist for Northern Ghana Music Awards in the same year. Sirina has contributed significantly in advancing music in Northern Ghana and by in so doing has inspired musicians from the region in various ways. She sings in Dabgani, English, Hausa, and Twi. Her music crosses genre from Hip-hop, R&B, Reggae, and Hip life to Soul. She has collaborated and performed with musicians such as Sherif Ghale, Ayisha from Denmark, Nana Kwame Ampadu, Rocky Dawuni, K.KC, Black Stone, King Ayisoba, Lord Wunpini and more. Popularly known as the Queen of Northern Music, she is the brainchild of the 7in1 for Peace Band.

Sheriff Ghale 


www.youtube.com/sheriffghale, www.reverbnation.com/sheriffghale, www.myspace.com/sheriffghale, www.facebook.com/sheriffghale

A composer, singer, lyricist, guitarist, traditional drummer and producer, Sheriff Ghale born Mohammed Sheriff Yamusah is commonly identified as a reggae artiste from Tamale, Ghana. He also fuses traditional music with the contemporary, does R&B, Hip-hop and experiments with all good music. To his credit are eleven (11) albums published and so many educational jingles, theme songs and anthems on social and health issues. Ghale is an extraordinary performer on the band and is one of the very few artistes in Ghana with a standing band.
His passion for exploiting the power of music towards social change and development led to his participation in the 7in1 for Peace collaboration since 2002 as well as the Sababas Project in 2009 (www.sababas.net). Sheriff Ghale became a frontline artistic warrior for the Carter Center (www.cartercenter.org) and the Ghana Health Service from 2005 in their fight to eradicate the Guinea Worm disease from Northern Ghana. He founded an NGO, The Sababas Arts Foundation in 2010, to build the capacity of artistes and also engage them in community development and positive social change in Northern Ghana.
The 2005 Ghana Music Awards winner (reggae song of the year) is a professionally trained classroom teacher, who earned a Bachelor of Education in Music from the University of Education, Winneba and is currently a final year Graduate Student at the University of Ghana, Legon pursuing a Master of Philosophy in Music.
Sheriff Ghale has played major concerts across Ghana, Denmark, Netherlands, Brazil and others.

The Kukuo Clan (KKC) – Big Adams & Big Malik


John Nsoh Adams and Abdul-Malik Issah, a Hip-hop duo with four (4) published albums, credited with the fatherhood of Hip-life, (Ghana’s version of Hip-hop) in Northern Ghana. They were the first artistes to rap in Dagbani and to publish a Hip-hop album in Northern Ghana. Both Adams and Malik come from a background of inter-school Fan-Fair Rap Competitions in Tamale, where young artistes competitively exhibited their talents on stage. Their lyrics are the deepest ever to be found in the Hip-life genre of Northern Ghana in terms of maturity and consistency at it. The group first came to fame under the wing of Sirina Issah as they featured prominently in her very early recordings, so it was no surprise at all to find them fully collaborating on the 7in1 for Peace project. The KKC also appears to be the only Hip-hop group from Northern Ghana to have stood the test of time employing latest technologies in their recordings, as Big Adams is now based in Canada and Big Malik well established back home in Ghana.

The Blackstone – Flexx & Kawastone

www.myspace.com/deensiandkawastone, www.facebook.com/kawastone
Kamal

Mudasir Aryee (Flexx) and Abdul-Rashid Mohammed (Kawastone) make up the first duo
from Northern Ghana to claim national popularity in Ghana. The Hip-life oriented BlackStone debuted on the Ghanaian music industry with a track titled “Fe M’ano” in the year 2000, shooting them straight to the popular music charts and within a few years, Flexx and Kawastone who had a record deal with Sammy Helwani (an ace Ghanaian Sound Engineer and Record Executive) became a house hold name. The duo brought on board the 7in1 for Peace project a very exciting twist and flare.
They soon recorded their second album but decided to depart on solo careers shortly after, as Flexx could no longer hide his passion for Radio over Music and now advancing his studies in the United States. Kawastone on the other hand has relentlessly pursued his music career firmly establishing his authority as the “Hip-life Capito” especially in Northern Ghana, releasing two more albums and still going strong. Kawastone was also on the Sababas Project in 2009 (www.sababas.net) where he toured and played major concerts across Denmark, through Copenhagen, Arhus, Silkeborg and Hilorod.

Lord Wumpini


www.facebook.com/mustapha.lordwumpini

Born Mustapha Quansah, Lord Wumpini was the newest sensation on the 7in1 for Peace project in 2002 and he occupied the spot of an amateur artiste, as it was part of the group’s intention to seek out opportunities for young artistes to get some inspiration and exposure. Currently with two albums to his credit, Wumpini focuses his lyrics on social issues such as rape, broken marriages and so on. Lord Wumpini is one of the most exciting stage acts to ever emerge from Northern Ghana. And was one of the artistes who championed the fight to eradicate the Guinea Worm disease from the Northern Region.

DRUMHAND

www.drumhand.ca

Propelled by a steamroller of percussion and energized by jazz horns, Toronto’s DRUMHAND draws inspiration from the circuitous rhythms of hot climates from Bahia, Brazil to Ghana, West Africa and South India to New Orleans. The group is becoming increasingly known for innovative orchestrations; and uplifting and accessible artistry for audiences of all ages. Their unique inclusiveness can be experienced in concert at festivals, schools performances, music venues, street parties, and nightclubs.

DRUMHAND’s original compositions make use of a diversity of instruments such as the one-stringed “Stomach Harp” and the box-shaped Gome foot drum. The group’s danceable and compelling beats are imbued with memorable melodies offered by the Atenteban flute, saxophones, brass, and vocal work in a variety of languages. Already in 2012, the DRUMHAND ensemble has toured much of Eastern Canada and has released their second album, “The Travelling Scheme”. Recent performances include the Blue Skies Music Festival, Sudbury’s Northern Lights Festival Boréal; the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, the Toronto Busker Festival, The Small World Music Festival (Toronto), Mundial Montréal, and extensive tours throughout Québec and the Maritimes.

DRUMHAND also provided the musical score in a Groundling Theatre premier called the 7 Ages hosted by Atom Egoyan.

Founded by percussionists David Chan (Shoot the Cameraman), Larry Graves (Mr. Something Something) and Steve Mancuso in 2008, DRUMHAND features the horn work of Marcus Ali (Cruzao/Jason Wilson) and Rebecca Hennessy (Woodshed Orchestra, Hobson’s Choice).

DRUMHAND also provided the musical score in a Groundling Theatre premier called the 7 Ages hosted by Atom Egoyan.

Founded by percussionists David Chan (Shoot the Cameraman), Larry Graves (Mr. Something Something) and Steve Mancuso in 2008, DRUMHAND features the horn work of Marcus Ali (Cruzao/Jason Wilson) and Rebecca Hennessy (Woodshed Orchestra, Hobson’s Choice).

Nani Kwashi Agbeli

Nani Agbeli is an Ewe man from the village of Kopeyia in the Volta Region of Ghana. From his childhood, Nani received drum and dance training from his father, the late Godwin Agbeli. Nani Agbeli also studied traditional music and dance at the National Arts Center in Accra. In the 1990s Nani performed with and led Sankofa Roots II, an award-winning troupe. For nine years he was a drum and dance instructor at the Dagbe Cultural Center, a cultural tourism facility in his hometown that is now directed by his elder brother, Emmanuel Agbeli. Nani has been invited as guest artist at the University of Ghana and the Edna Manley School in Jamaica. After moving to the United States in 2006 he has taught at many colleges including the Berklee College of Music, Bowling Green University, the University of Virginia, Lawrence Conservatory, Mt. Holyoke College, and the University of Wisconsin. He has had residencies at elementary schools and done many special presentations for K-12 music educators. Nani currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts. He is on the faculty of the Music Department of Tufts University where he directs the Kiniwe Ensemble and teaches an integrated curriculum in the traditional singing, drumming and dancing of Ghana. He also teaches at Brandeis University and the Five Colleges in Amherst, MA and is the Artistic Director of the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, a community-based group in Greater Boston that was founded by Professor David Locke of Tufts University (www.agbekorsociety.org). Nani Agbeli leads study tours to Ghana in July-August and is available for performances, workshops, residencies and lecture-demonstrations. For further information, visit his website www.woezo.com.

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