Dream features Valerie Dee Naranjo with Kakraba Lobi,
Bernard Woma, Obo Addy, Joni Haastrup, Barry Olsen, Shawn Pelton,
Randy Crafton, and Benny Koonyevsky
Naranjo has gathered a force of West African and American master musicians
to celebrate one of West Africa's most fascinating instrumental traditions. Recorded
on both American coasts and in Ghana, Lewaa's Dream is
a collection of ancient to contemporary compositions originally for the Ghanaian
The individual selections of Lewaa's Dream incorporate a
diversity of instrumentations and styles, from the 10-movement "Guun" (Ancient
Music For Solo Marimba) to duos and ensembles with traditional
Ghanaian percussion instruments, concert piano, kanjira
(Indian frame drum), Afro-pop style horns and trap set, and abstract
dub hip hop drums and percussion.
Valerie Dee Naranjo (percussionist,
vocalist, composer, clinician) known
for her pioneering efforts in West African keyboard percussion
music, is originally from Southern Colorado. She moved
to New York City after completing studies in vocal and instrumental
music education (U. of Oklahoma) and Percussion Performance
(Ithaca College). In 1988 her playing of the gyil's traditional
repertoire in Ghana's KOBINE FESTIVAL OF TRADITIONAL MUSIC
led to the declaration of a chiefly decree in the Dagara
nation that women be allowed to play the instrument for
the first time.
She plays percussion for NBC's Saturday Night Live Band,
and has recorded and performed with Broadway's The Lion
King, The Philip Glass Ensemble, David Byrne, The Paul
Winter Consort, Tori Amos, Airto Moreira, and the international
percussion ensemble, MEGADRUMS, which includes Milton Cardona,
Zakir Hussein, and Glen Velez.
On six continents she endorses Avedis Zildjian (Cymbals) Pearl/Adams (Latin
and Concert Percussion) and Vic Firth products as a soloist and clinician.
Recent film score recordings include "Final Fantasy - The Dream Within" and "Frida".
Her work and music have been written about in "Modern Drummer", "Drum!", "Rhythm", "Percussive
Notes", and "World Percussion Rhythm". She was named "World
Music Percussionist of the Year 2005", as winner of DRUM! Magazine Reader's
Poll in that category. She has recorded several CDs of traditional gyil music
with Kakraba Lobi and Barry Olsen, and the CD Zie Mwea with Mr. Olsen and Bernard
Woma. Her solo Native American CD "Orenda" is on the Ellipsis Arts
Label, and her series of nine written transcriptions and CDs, "West African
Music for the Marimba Soloist" and "Lewaa's Dream (Ancient and Contemporary
Music for West African Marimba)" are published by Mandara Music.
Valerie has apprenticed with some of America's and West Africa's strictest
master percussionists, including Leigh Howard Stevens, Gordon Stout, Dave Samuels,
Godwin Agbelli, and Adama Drame, and continues to spend summers in Ghana to
further her gyil study with maestros Kakraba Lobi and Kofi Misiso. She has
also researched and studied in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Morrocco, Zambia,
Zimbabwe, and South Africa, where, in 1994 with Thuli Dumakude, she opened
Civic Theatre to its first post-apartheid audiences in the production BUYA
Lobi (composer/gyil) is one of the only living virtuosi
to have gained international acclaim as a gyil concert soloist.
He was born in Kalba Saru in upper-west Ghana into a family of
gyil players. From 1962 until 1987 Kakraba was a full-time member,
and is presently an advising member of the staff at the Institute
of African Studies, the University of Ghana. His particular approach
to composing and improvising has been studied by percussionists
and ethnomusicologists from around the world. (Please see the recordings section
for more info).
Bernard Woma is the
ceremonial Atumpan player and solo gyil player and
drummer for the Ghana Dance Ensemble, with whom he
has travelled internationally. He was born in Hineteng
in the upper-west of Ghana, and spent his early childhood
training in the house of renouned gyil player Xiem
Tibo. He was named "best gyil player in the 1997
Kakube Traditional Festival in Nandom, Ghana, and has
taught in Universities in the US, Europe, and West
Africa, Bernard has performed in International Festivals
throughout the world.
Obo Addy (composer,
singer, and percussionist) is
the eldest brother in the famed Addy family of master
drummers of Ghana. Since moving to the U.S. Obo has
recorded ten CDs of traditional and original music,
has written for the Kronos Quartet and other chamber
ensembles, and has kept a non-stop schedule of concerts
and workshops, at places including the WOMAD Festival
and the Kennedy Center. Obo is the recipient of two
Masters Fellowships, the Oregon Governor's Award for
the Arts, and the coveted National Endowment for the
Arts' National Heritage Fellowship.
Joni Haastrup (singer,
dancer, African drummer and percussionist) was “Soul
Brother Number One”, one of his Native Nigeria's
stars of Soul music that conquered West Africa in the
1960s. He then lived in London, where he performed
with Ginger Baker, and arrived in the United States
in 1975 at the invitation of Capitol Records in Hollywood
and EMI Nigeria. Joni has performed locally and internationally
and recorded with a number of America’s best,
including Taj Mahal, Chris Isaac, Hugh Masekela and
Steve Smith from ‘Journey’.
Barry Olsen (multi-instrumentalist) is a native New Yorker and
alumnus of the Manhattan School of Music, who began his career
in the late 70s playing trombone in New York's Latin dance music
scene. Over the years has recorded and performed all over the
world with most of the major artists in this field, including
Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Hector Lavoe, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz,
Marc Anthony, and La India.
He has also performed on trombone, piano, and percussion with Paul
Simon, David Byrne, The Paul Winter Consort, Charlie Persip and many
others. He first recorded in South Africa on the CD "Ancestral Healing" by South African artist
Pops Mohammed, and the CD "Jazzin' Universally", with Airto Moreira,
Jose Neto, Valerie Naranjo, and many outstanding musicians from that country.
Since then he has performed with the jazz group Ingoma, led by South African
saxophonist and composer Zim Ngqawana, having toured with them in Europe and
the U.S., as well as in their home country.
Barry is the pianist for the Latin-Jazz group Syotos, led by trombonist
Chris Washburne, and is featured on their recordings "Nuyorican Nights.," "The
Other Side" and "Paradise in Trouble". On marimba and percussion
he is frequently heard in the orchestra of the Broadway hit "The Lion
King." He is completing a piano trio CD with Drummer Vince Cherico and
bassist Boris Kozlov.
Since 1988 he has been performing Lobi and Dagara music from northern Ghana,
playing the drums known as kuar and gangaa, which accompany the gyil. Since
performing in Ghana in 1996, he has recorded these instruments on the CD "Zie
Mwea (Natural Conditions)" with Bernard Woma, several CDs with Kakraba
Lobi, and Valerie Naranjo's recording "Lewaa's Dream.
Shawn Pelton is one of the busiest
drummers in New York City, having recorded with such artists as Bob
Dylan, Carly Simon, Chris Botti, Roseann Cash, Bruch Stringsteen,
Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Sheryl Crow, Bon Jovi, Elton John, Billy
Joel, Hall & Oats, Shawn Colvin, The Brecker Brothers, Rod Stewart,
and Buddy Guy. When he isn't under headphones, he can bee seen on
Saturday Night Live, where he is currently in his 14th season with
the SNL house band.
Randy Crafton has
produced, performed, engineered, and composed, on the
Ellipsis Arts, Lyrichord Discs, Narada, Hearts of Space,
Interworld Music, Soul Purpose, Acoustic America, Earwig
Music, Newport Classics, and CMP labels, and include
CD’s by Ray Barretto, Ron Carter, Richie Havens,
Dayna Kurtz, and Valerie Naranjo with Kakraba Lobi. As
a percussionist/drummer, he has performed and recorded
with The Albany Symphony Orchestra, Glen Velez, Omar
Faruk Tekbilek, Richie Havens, Dayna Kurtz, The Lion
King, and Riverdance (Broadway), and others.
Benny Koonyevsky is
a recipient of the Francoise Shapira Prize, through which he made his
solo debut with the Israel Philharmonic. He was a member of the Israel
Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and Principal Timpanist with The International
Symphony Orchestra, and is currently Assistant Timpanist with the Springfield
(MA) Symphony Orchestra. He has toured with such artists as Omar Faruk
Tekbilek, Ishtar the voice of Alabina, Sergio Salvatore, The Lion King
and Dessa Rose (Broadway), and Peter, Paul & Mary; and recorded
with Gloria Estefan, Vanessa Williams, Donald Fagan, and others.
more about this music and the recording and artists.
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