The Show

Djembe is a transformative and high-energy musical experience

Djembe
Djembe

A Note from the creator

Bringing ‘Djembe!’ to the stage has been an extraordinary journey that has culminated in working with an amazing cast, thought leaders, creatives and production team. I offer them all my profound thanks for their commitment to this project and their trust in me.

Stepping off the plane onto the Mother Continent more than 25 years ago was a homecoming. This led to the beginning of my life-calling relationship with the djembe. A drum that allows us to feel connected and alive, something that we all deserve to feel.

It all began after an initial study trip to West Africa 1997. The people, the musicians I have met, collaborated with, and played with are today my extended family. They have changed my life, and I will feel gratitude to them for the rest of my days. They offer me sister and brotherhood, encouragement, guidance, acceptance, inspiration, wisdom, understanding, listening, love.

Origins

The spirit of community and giving in West Africa, where no one goes hungry is exemplary. And so today, a huge part of my life is dedicated to my foundation Lighting Up Lives. It is through this foundation that the show pays it back to a people that have been so generous to me.

Even after so many years of djembe study I would never pretend to be a master drummer. I remain a humble student – but what I strive to embody is the essence of this special drum.

The origins and translation of the word djembe sums life up perfectly. As stated in the show the Malinke people (the West African tribe from where this drum originates) say Anke Dje, Anke Be. Everyone gather together in peace. Djembe.



Cast & Creative

Introducing the cast and creative of Djembe

Rashada Dawan

Rashada Dawan

Singer

Rashada Dawan

Singer


Rashada Dawan (Singer) is a proud Southside of Chicago native and beyond humbled to learn from and represent so many beautiful cultures in DJEMBE!Thank you God for my Village and the two most dynamic daughters a girl could pray for- Genesis and Journey. For more information about how to help end violence and increase mental wellness through the arts, visit her website at www.bfliproductions.org.


Ben Hope

Ben Hope

Emcee

Ben Hope

Emcee


Ben Hope (Emcee) made his Broadway debut in 2012 as the lead in the Tony- Award winning musical ONCE. He also leads NYC-based honky-tonk band BEN HOPE & THE UPTOWN OUTFIT facebook.com/benhopemusic. Ben sends a special thank you to his dear friends in Senegal: Issa, Monirro, Jean, Willis, Cher, Cher 2, Max, Bo, America, Moussa, and especially Mokolo, Sadio, Alliou and Martine. And to Katie, ‘Nop naa la’.


Fodé Lavia Camara

Fodé Lavia Camara

Djembe Fola

Fodé Lavia Camara

Djembe Fola


Fodé Lavia Camara (Djembe Fola) was born into artistic family In Guinea, West Africa. At the age of five, he began his formal training with instruments of Djembe orchestral. In high demand he continues to tour in Africa, Europe, North/South America, Australia and Asia as an Instructor, Choreographer and guest artist. He honors his family through his artistic expression of guinea’s musical traditions


Sekou Conde

Sekou Conde

U/S Emcee/Djembe Fol

Sekou Conde

U/S Emcee/Djembe Fol


Sekou Conde (U/S Emcee / Djembe Fola) Achievements range from performing worldwide, 5 self-produced recordings, appearing on 3 episodes of “EMPIRE”, and “SOUTH SIDE WITH YOU”, established The Djembekan School of Percussion, Seneke West African Percussion Ensemble, and Kafolike School of Percussion.


Patrick Donley

Patrick Donley

Keyboard/MD

Patrick Donley

Keyboard/MD


Patrick Donley (Keyboard / MD) has been a part of Chicago’s bustling jazz and world music scene since 2013. Woodridge, Illinois native and University of Michigan graduate in Piano and Linguistics, he now brings his experience in rhythm to the Djembe! stage.


De'Jah Jrvai

De'Jah Jrvai

U/S Singer

De'Jah Jrvai

U/S Singer


De’Jah Jrvai (U/S Singer) Recent credits include Firebrand Theater’s Caroline or Change and Wagon Wheel Theater’s Seussical. A 2018 graduate of Columbia College’s Musical Theater program, and proud alumni of ChiArts HS and National YoungArts Foundation! De’Jah is represented by the lovely agents at Shirley Hamilton.


Evan Salvacion Levine

Evan Salvacion Levine

Bass

Evan Salvacion Levine

Bass


Evan Salvacion Levine (Bass) is an Upright/Electric Bassist, Composer, and Educator. Evan currently lives in Chicago and received his BM from Oberlin Conservatory and his MM from The University of Michigan. His second record, Mestizo, was released in 2018.


Jeff Swanson

Jeff Swanson

Guitar

Jeff Swanson

Guitar


Jeff Swanson (Guitar) has been featured at Chicago Jazz Festival, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Iowa City Jazz Festival, Chicago Gospel Festival. Case-fitter is Swanson’s first original full-length release, recorded in April 2018 during a residency at The Whistler in Chicago. See more at www. jeffswansonmusic.com


Abou Sylla

Abou Sylla

Balafon/Djembe Player

Abou Sylla

Balafon/Djembe Player


Abou Sylla (Balafon/Djembe Player) is a master percussionist, musician, performer and teacher of West African music and dance. He has been performing professionally for over 20 years and teaches for schools, universities, festivals, companies and nonprofit organizations. He lives in Austin, Texas.


Clif Wallace

Clif Wallace

Percussion

Clif Wallace

Percussion


Clif Wallace (Percussion) has played with Saxophone and Clarinetist Victor Goines, Vocalist Tammy McCann, as well as other great artists including Bobby Broom, Pharez Whitted, and The Chicago Jazz Orchestra. Clif leads his own Quintet, Big Band, and other groups as a band leader and producer.


Willi C Yoko

Willi C Yoko "Jabal"

U/S Balafon

Willi C Yoko "Jabal"

U/S Balafon


Willi C Yoko “Jabal” (U/S Balafon) was born into a musical family in Cameroon, Africa where his father was a balafon maker. He began his musical career at a young age by singing and performing and now shares his vivid African culture in Chicago.