A celebration of Indigenous African music comes to the Blueshore stage

Ren Zhang (they/them) // Contributor
Freya Emery // Illustrator

A beloved fixture of the Capilano Jazz Studies program, Dr. Kofi Gbolonyo is a professor, ethnomusicologist and expert musician who spends his time sharing his wealth of knowledge. He specializes in West African music that, in the scope of its definition, includes dancing and singing.

Everywhere he goes, Gbolonyo cultivates a passion for music and culture that comes alive in his brass bands and choirs. He has traveled and taught all around the world, giving clinics and leading musical groups. 

On March 3 at 8:00 p.m., Gbolonyo will be at the forefront of Azae Loo, an event that translates to “celebration” and more specifically to the celebration of the performing arts.

“Azae Loo is a term that encapsulate[s] the essence of the traditional Ewe (Indigenous West African) knowledge and philosophy in its entirety,” said Gbolonyo.

The CapU West African Jazz Band and CapU Percussion Ensemble will be performing with faculty professors Jared Burrows and Dave Robbins, which will showcase the exciting and traditional music they have learned in the year. In addition, Gbolonyo’s semi-professional West African drumming and dance group, Adanu Habobo, featuring guests Awal Alhasan and Sheimawu Abubakari from Seattle and Ghana, respectively, will be sharing their incredible rhythmic knowledge that the audience are encouraged to get up and dance to. Lastly, esteemed professor and master drummer/dancer Dr. Sylvanus Kwashie Kuwor, ethnomusicologist and multi-instrumentalist Dr. Curtis Andrews and Dr. Greg Campbell from Cornish College will also be sharing their gifts in this effervescent medium.

“I am very excited that we have this opportunity to showcase and highlight not only some of the various African Indigenous musical traditions that [have] influenced jazz and other music of the African diaspora, but also how those African diasporic musical creations including jazz [have] in return, influenced modern popular music of and in Africa since the early 1900s,” said Gbolonyo.

He hopes that through this concert, the African Diaspora’s experiences in the Americas will be celebrated and placed in the main narrative of history where it belongs.

“I hope [the audience will] get to know or [be] reminded that the history, culture, philosophies, artistic and many other forms of knowledge and skills of people of African heritage have influenced much of global civilization and that those achievements and contributions of people of African descent deserve to be celebrated.”

Azae Loo will be on March 3 at 8:00 p.m. in the BlueShore Centre for the Performing Arts.

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