I ended 2016 with a life-changing journey to complete the Dagara Gyil Goba Initiation in the Upper West Region of Ghana. Having studied the gyil xylophone for the past 25 years, completing this initiation was a major milestone. I am deeply grateful to my mentor, friend, and jumbie brother, Bernard Woma, along with his extended family, for seeing me through this epic journey. Photos from the initiation can be found here. While in the Upper West of Ghana, I also participated in the Kukur Bagr Festival with Bernard's Saakumu Dance Troupe. Photos of this beautiful two-day celebration can be found here.
The Goba Initiation concluded a powerful year of spiritual reawaking for me, which began last January when I became a member of the Baha'i Faith and included the miracle of my son Paxton's birth and subsequent life-saving surgery. In 2017, it is my goal to channel this spiritual growth as a Baha'i, father, and Goba into both my music and community work. As I attempt to meet this resolution, I'm kicking off the new year with two very special events.
This weekend, fellow Pontiac Arts Commissioner Dwayne Anthony and I are organizing our first Soul Food event. The purpose of this free event is to provide encouragement to our community through the healing power of music. Six different groups, representing a diverse range of cultural and spiritual traditions, will share their music and its message of peace and unity. The program takes place at the Pontiac Creative Art Center, located at 47 William Street, this Sunday, Jan. 22nd, at 3pm.
Then next Saturday, Jan. 28th, I will be hosting a workshop and performance by Spirits Rising at Oakland University. Spirits Rising is the new dynamic musical duo of Native American singers and songwriters Allison Radell (Powhatan) and Joe Reilly (Cherokee). Incorporating elements of jazz, folk, blues, hip-hop, rock and traditional Native American music, Spirits Rising shares music from the heart that inspires and uplifts. The duo is joined onstage by world-renowned musicians and Native American dancers. Together they weave traditional Native American culture into a powerful tapestry of contemporary music and rhythm, integrating diverse influences from the four directions. The free workshopbegins at 1pm in room 109 Varner Hall and the concert begins at 8pm in Varner Recital Hall.
I hope to see you at one of these special events!