Adaawe is one of the most intense, pulse-pounding female groups out there, with seven members from different parts of the world and a style that cannot be pinned down with a label. They are to perform at the famous Promenade Park in downtown Long Beach as part of the “Peace & Rhythm” event created by the Arts Council for Long Beach and the Catalyst Network of Communities. It’s an outdoor community event that’s free to the public, but besides being a work of art for any jazz lover to enjoy.
Adaawe is a group of percussionists/vocalists who manage to create the illusion of an entire orchestra with their voices. Their name comes from the Ghanaian musical tradition in which women gather in the moonlight to sing songs about life’s joys and pains. But the music and musicians of Adaawe are hardly limited to a single region.
Each member is from a different part of the world. Joselyn Wilkinson, the founder of Adaawe, is from Montana; she is a scholar of Ghanaian music as well as a talented songwriter, singer, and drummer. Bridget Graham is from New York City and is also a talented actress and studio vocalist. Monique Afenjar, from Israel, is an expert in Middle Eastern percussion and vocal techniques. Phylliss Bailey Brooks is from Los Angeles; she’s a talented actress, comedian, singer, and musical director. Dayna Franklin is from New Orleans and has experience performing as a drummer in the French Quarter. She’s composed music for films and collaborated with Elton John and Billy Idol. Nakeiltha Campbell, the newest Adaawe member from Panama, is an expert steel drummer and has performed at venues like the Hollywood Bowl and the NAACP awards. Anindo is from Kenya, has enjoyed a successful career as a singer in Europe, and has performed with West African drum legends like Babatunde Olatunji.
The sound of the group is aggressive and stimulating, taking the fieriest elements out of the R&B, jazz, gospel, funk, salsa, West African griot, and Egyptian chaabi traditions. In any performance, you can hear all the different nations that compose the group, which seems to possess its own unique aura of sound. It’s no surprise to hear that this group has performed with the likes of James Brown, James Ingram, Yolanda Adams, and Harry Belafonte.
The musical event is sure to be a huge blast. Along with Adaawe, there will be a tribal fusion belly dance performance by Sirena Serpentina, a community drum circle, and a peace blessing extended by Peace Mother Geeta Sacred Song who is an internationally known Mayan Peace Shaman. You can’t possibly get more diverse than this. The Arts Council for Long Beach was able to create this event after receiving a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission as a part of the Free Concerts and Public Sites program. We might as well take advantage of the generosity, especially if it involves music from Adaawe.
The event is to take place on Saturday, November 5, from 4pm to 7pm. Besides the live performances, there will also be fire dancing and soul food. Promenade Park is located in Promenade Square, which is located in the corner of East 1st Street and Long Beach Boulevard, across from the Long Beach Special Events Department building. Bring blankets or chairs, food, or even a drum or two if you want to participate in the drum circle. For information, visit www.visitlongbeach.com/calendar/index.cfm?eventid=5280. The event is co-sponsored by Shift Long Beach, Long Beach Time Exchange, Sacred Peace Center, the Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse, and Tinderbox.