Yacub Addy is a pioneering master of Ghanaian drumming, a composer, choreographer and educator. He is the senior practicing drummer in the renowned Addy drumming family from the village of Avenor near Accra, Ghana.
Raised in the British colony of the Gold Coast and determined, despite the pressures to westernize, to keep his culture alive, Addy organized and led the first staged performance of traditional Ghanaian music and dance in 1957, the year of Ghana’s independence. He later formed the historic groups Ashieduketrekre, which set a performance standard for traditional Ghanaian artists to follow during the 1960s, and Oboade, which became the first professional traditional Ghanaian group to tour in the West, recording its classic Kpanlogo Party in London in 1973.
Addy’s art took him from Ghana to Europe and America, where in 1982 he created Odadaa!, composed predominantly of artists of his own Ga ethnic group. Odadaa! is the classic Ga ensemble in America, performing traditional Ghanaian music and dance arranged and choreographed by Addy, and new compositions strongly rooted in tradition.
In recent years he has incorporated additional instruments with Odadaa!’s ensemble of drums, vocals, bamboo flutes, guitar and bala. He has presented the results of collaborations with kora master Foday Musa Suso, jazz saxophonist T.K. Blue, and most recently with Wynton Marsalis. The BET Jazz Channel broadcast two episodes of their series "Journey with Jazz at Lincoln Center" (03-04 season) featuring Addy’s collaboration with Marsalis interspersed with live footage from his stellar performance May 03 in New York with Odadaa! and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
Addy and Marsalis are developing a further collaboration upcoming in spring 2006. In spring of 2005, Yacub will premiere a very personal project titled Kolo (Ghanaian slang for “colonialism”) that speaks to his life long struggle for human rights, including his experience of Ghana’s independence movement. He has also recently developed new Islamic/African music through a second collaborative project with Foday Musa Suso.
Yacub has influenced many others in Ghana, Europe and the United States to perform traditional Ghanaian music and dance and to create music based in it. His recordings include, Kpanlogo Party, with Oboade (Lyrichord Records, 1973), Blema Bii - Children of the Ancients (Makossa Records, 1982), and, with Odadaa!, Children of the Ancients (Aku Music,
1999). He currently teaches as a member of the faculty of Skidmore College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York.
View Full Biography >>