West African Music Festival


Ever wondered how Senegalese-born hip hop superstar Akon developed his melodic rhythms? Fellow Senegal émigré Thione Diop has invited performers from his native land as well as from Gambia, Ghana, Benin, Guinea, and Nigeria to showcase samples of their art for our illumination. Founder of the West African Music Festival, Diop is a legendary musician widely revered as one of the fastest drummers in the world (not bad for a Seattleite), who sparks the drums with an intricate perfection that shames synthetic drum machines. He’ll be joined for this second annual event by the boisterous acrobats of the Djialy Kunda Tradional West African Dance Ensemble and celebrated local artists like Naby Cammara, Mapathe Diop, Ettiene Capko of the Gansango Dance Company, Saed Abbis, Yeke Yeke, and Afro Pop for the seven-hour program. Much like the Gambian troubadour who confirmed Alex Haley’s quest to trace his Roots, Diop is an actual “griot” (oral historian), maintaining a family tradition inherited from his father. It’s estimated that 94% of African-Americans have origins in West Africa, making this celebration an opportunity for anyone to take a page from Haley’s book and discover where the people and music they enjoy today were conceived.

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