Concert Celebrating African Music and Dance at Berklee

Berklee College of Music attracts musicians from all over the world, and an increasing number of exceptional students are arriving from Africa as a result of auditions there. On January 28, Berklee presents Homeland Security: Celebrating Contemporary and Traditional African Music and Dance, highlighting the rich music, compelling stories, and vibrant dance that are a way of life in Africa.
The concert will feature students from Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa who are studying at the college on scholarships, as well as students from the U.S.

The concert program includes original songs written by the students about their homelands and personal journeys. Student-penned pieces include "Va Gumulelana (No More War), " by Helder Tsinine, which in 2011 became the first non-English language song to win the Peacedriven Songwriting Contest; "Battle" by Jason Ekhabi Sibi-Okumu, about his struggle with kidney failure; and "Mwanamuziki" (Swahili for musician), by Annette Oduor, paying homage to her hometown of Nairobi.

Homeland Security: Celebrating Contemporary and Traditional African Music and Dance at Berklee takes place Monday, January 28, 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA. Tickets, $8 in advance, $12 day of show, can be purchased at the BPC Box Office. The venue is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 617 747-2261 or visit Can't make it to the show? The event will stream live on Concert Window.

Traditional pieces featuring drumming and dance will bookend the concert. Berklee's 16-member West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, directed by Joe Galeota, associate professor of Percussion, open the show with "Togo Atsia, " originally a women's dance piece from the coast of Ghana and Togo. While another group of students, choreographed by student Jeniffer Criss, will close out the concert with "Sinte, " from Guinea and Mali.

"I am one of the advisors for the African student club and was moved to see such camaraderie between the members, " said Galeota. "They are all so talented but still help one another and maintain the kind of closeness that you find in the African communities. My vision for the concert was to share all of their talent in one night and on one stage together."

The West African Drum and Dance Ensemble also features percussionist Victor "Blue" Dogah. In 2008, Dogah was named Berklee's first Africa Scholar an award covering full tuition and room and board for four years at Berklee through the program instituted by Berklee president Roger H. Brown. This concert is dedicated to Brown and his wife Linda Mason in honor of their humanitarian work in Africa and continued support of Africa's musical community.

Berklee College of Music, for over 65 years, has evolved to support its belief that the best way to prepare students for careers in music is through contemporary music education. The college was the first in the U.S. to teach jazz, the popular music of the time. It incorporated rock n' roll in the 1960s, created the world's first degree programs in film scoring, music synthesis, and songwriting, and, in recent years, added world music, hip-hop, electronica, and video game music to its curriculum. With a diverse student body representing over 80 countries, a music industry "who's who" of alumni that have received 222 Grammy Awards, Berklee is the world's premier learning lab for the music of today and tomorrow.

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