Seattle Center Festál: Spirit of West Africa Held 5/8

Experience the excitement, richness and beauty of West Africa through live music, dance, art, film, exhibits, a fashion show, a West African marketplace and more at Seattle Center Festál: Spirit of West Africa, May 8, 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m, in Center House.

This lively and colorful festival features traditional performances by world-class griot artists - musicians, drummer and dancers long considered the repositories of oral traditions in West Africa - from Senegal, Ghana, Guinea, Benin, Gambia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Liberia. Their presence is essential to all West African celebrations, uniting and strengthening the community with drum and dance and celebrating the rites of passage of its members.

Renowned master drummer Obo Addy returns to the festival this year. One of the key originators of the musical movement now known as "Worldbeat," Addy is a prominent member of the first generation of African musicians to bring their traditional and popular music to Europe and America. A teacher, musician, and National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship award recipient from Ghana, Addy is the first African-born artist to receive the award. He is joined by other local and out-of-town artists including:

Won-Ldy Paye, multi-talented author, artist and performer from Liberia
Alseny Yansane, former dancer with Les Ballets Africains of Guinea
Juno award recipient Naby Camara and Lagni Sussu from Guinea
Etienne Cakpo and Gansango from Benin, Lora Chiorah-Dye and Sukutai from Zimbabwe
Karamo Susso, young kora master from Gambia
Mapathe Diop from Senegal
Thione Diop and Yeke Yeke, Senegal, and more.
West Africa, the motherland of traditional rhythms, gave birth to modern music from the Caribbean and Brazil as well as American jazz, hip-hop, blues and rock and roll. Tightly woven poly-rhythms, where each drummer plays a specific contrasting part of the larger rhythm, work together synergistically to create a river of sound that will move you to dance.

The 22 Festál cultural celebrations highlight the common forms of tradition and expression among ethnic communities in the Pacific Northwest, while underscoring their unique creative contributions, customs, foods and ideals. Our 2010 "did you know" will explore some of these commonalities and differences.

Did you know? The colors of several West African countries are green, red, yellow. Their most popular foods are Mafe or Tigadegena, a peanut stew with meat. Fufu, mashed yams, cassava or plantains served with soup or stews, is popular in Ghana, Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. The musical heritage of West African countries contributes a great sense of pride. West African hospitality is a cultural value, and the word for this hospitality and way of life in Senegal is "Teranga." The livelihoods in West African countries include music, fishing, farming and mining.

Seattle Center Festál: Spirit of West Africa is presented by Seattle Center in partnership with the Spirit of West Africa Committee. For a full event schedule, visit, and for more information on this cultural series and other Seattle Center programming, click on or call 206 684-7200.

About Seattle Center Festál

Seattle Center Festál, a series of 22 world festivals presented at Seattle Center on weekends throughout 2010, highlights the distinct cultures and common threads of ethnic communities in our region through traditional and contemporary art, music, foods, youth activities, workshops and more. This collection of cultural events is produced with the generous support of Wells Fargo, Verizon Wireless and KUOW 94.9 Public Radio. Additional support is provided by Seattle Center Foundation and the City of Seattle.

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