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African Diaspora Series: Shodekeh, Yahya Abdul-Majid/Luke Stewart, More Than a Drum

With support from the Takoma Foundation, Rhizome presents the African Diaspora Music Series, with concerts every Sunday afternoon in May.

Doors open at 4. Program begins at 430.

Rhizome is located at 6950 Maple St NW DC, two blocks from the Takoma metro station (red line).

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Kids free.

Shodekeh is a professional beat boxer and vocal percussionist who has been performing and honing his craft since age nine. 

By channeling the aural concepts of various instruments and soundscapes, he’s able to vocalize the many dynamic emulations of everything from drum sets, synthesizers, turntables, congas, horns and bass guitars to ocean waves, sleigh bells, crickets and helicopters.  His keen musical ability and adaptability have enabled him to collaborate with artists across many genres (including music, dance, visual art), from different cultural traditions, and in an array of creative settings.

Shodekeh is the founding director of “Embody, A Music Series of the Vocal Arts,” which strives for artistic and cultural unity through the many vocal traditions from the world from opera, throat singing, to beat boxing. 

He currently serves as faculty/musical accompanist at Towson University’s Department of Dance and at Duke University’s American Dance Festival.  Over the years Shodekeh has completed a number of musical commissions including “Witness” with VTDance at the Kennedy Center, “Fuse Muse” with percussionists Brian Prechtl and Barry Dove of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and “Transformations: New Directions in Black Art,” performed at 2009 conference of African American Arts presented by the Maryland Institute College of Art and Harvard University.

In addition he has performed at The Conference on World Affairs at The University of Colorado, and has opened for former President Bill Clinton at an official State of Maryland event with the Coppin State University Choir.

More than a Drum is poet Dine Watson and drummer Abasi Johnson.

Bernadine (Dine) Watson began writing plays and poems at 12 years old and for many years made a living writing about social policy issues. A native Philadelphian, Dine has performed her poetry in numerous venues in Philadelphia and the Washington, DC area. In 2015, three of her poems were selected for inclusion in the Painted Bride Art Center’s Re-Place-ing Philadelphia project. Her poem "Annie" won the 2001 Philadelphia Celebration of Writing award for poetry. Dine also continues to write on key social issues and has been published in the Washington Post’s She the People blog and Health and Science section. She is a member of Writing the Body, a poetry workshop in Takoma Park, MD and teaches poetry at Arts For Our Children in Washington, DC.

G.H. Abasi Johnson is the founder of More Than a Drum, which merged with Young Women's Drumming Empowerment Project in 2009. He is an integral part of the YWDEP family. For over 40 years Abasi has been an arts innovator, professional percussionist and percussion teacher and he’s taught at The Levine School of Music and The New Sewell Music Conservatory. His passion for percussion arts inspired him to create MTAD in 1997 as a DC-based 501(c) (3) organization to further the art of percussion music and he’s also the creator and artistic director of Freedom Drum Suite, a performing percussion group. Abasi has performed with numerous artists including the late Babatunde Olantunji and Baba Ngoma, performed with a host of dance companies, in theatre productions and with performance poets in a wide variety of venues including colleges and universities. He commissioned a musical work for The Dance Institute of Washington, Spirit of Kwanzaa -- performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, conducted Arts in Education workshops at the Corcoran School of Art and is a percussionist for Alvin Ailey Dance Company. He is a member of the reggae band, Black Sheep, eight time winners of the Washington Area Music Association’s WAMMIE Award for best reggae group and the recipient of a D.C. Arts and Humanities Commission Grant.

Luke Stewart is an accomplished D.C.-based experimental music impresario and multi-instrumentalist. He ran Union Arts, a DIY arts space on New York Avenue NE, and is one half of the brains behind CapitalBop, a local jazz blog and show promoter. He plays bass in the James Brandon Lewis Trio, Heroes are Gang Leaders (with saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and poet Thomas Sayres Ellis), Irreversible Entanglements (with saxophonist Keir Neuringer, vocalist Camae Ayewa, and others), and Trio OOO (with drummer Sam Lohman and saxophonist Aaron Martin), to name but a few of his many collaborations.

Yahya Abdul-Majid has been tenor saxophonist for the Sun Ra Arkestra since 1980.

Shodekeh

Shodekeh

Yahya Abdul-Majid

Yahya Abdul-Majid

Luke Stewart

Luke Stewart