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Sonny Akpan | Henri GaoBi | Kari (Alfie) Bannerman | Emmanuel Tagoe | Jo jo Yates | Kadialy Kouyate | Atongo Zimba
Sonny Akpan

Sonny Akpan - One of the world's great conga players

Sonny's Nigerian conga playing has featured on the hit albums of the Rolling Stones, African Headcharge and Eddie Grant. He was a core member of the influential Nigerian group The Funkies.

Widely respected as one of the world's great conga players he has appeared on countless television performances and at the world's greatest music venues. He has performed, amongst others with the James Brown and the JB's, Fela Kuti, Vangelis and Roy Ayres.

Recognised by the late Lester Bowie, as one of the leading authorities on West African rhythms and a great percussionist, Lester requested Sonny play at the Royal Festival Hall for his last concert in London before his death. In 2003 he performed at the Jazz Cafe with the reformed Funkies.

Henri GaoBi

Henri GaoBi - A Master Drummer from the Ivory Coast

Henri is recognised as one of the leading Ivorian Jembe players in the country. A maestro player he was selected to perform with the National Ballet of Africa.

He has also played at London's Royal Festival Hall and toured nationally with the elite Master Drummers of Africa. As part of Kaago, he has established a respected reputation in workshops and performances across the country.

Henri toured in 2002 with the Arts Council funded Rhythms'n Routes - Great African Roots Dance Music' throughout the UK.

Kari (Alfie) Bannerman

Kari (Alfie) Bannerman - One of West Africa's Finest Guitarists

Guitarist Kari Bannerman has been at the heart of Ghanian music for over 30 years. He was a founder member of Afro-rock pioneers Osibisa as well as a member of African Guitar Masters alongside Lucky Ranku and Abdul Tee-Jay. His Boombaya Hi-Life headlined at the Africa Season at the South Bank in spring 2003.

Emmanuel Tagoe

Emmanuel Tagoe - A Master Drummer from Ghana

Born in a traditional music and dance family, Emmanuel is one of Ghana's most respected master dance drummers touring throughout Africa and Europe with the prestigious National Arts Council Folkloric Company and the Dabuo Dance Company.

As a key member of Steel'n Skin he helped to develop Ekome, Delado and Lanzel black dance groups and with Seth Daniel Laryea formed Yaa Asantewa in Haringey.

As musical director and company supervisor of Adzido, the UK's leading Pan African dance and drumming company he was presented in 1989 with the Black Dance Development Trust Award of "Best Musician in Britian".

His film credits include: "The Sailors Return" and "Ama" by Kwesi Owusu and Kwate Nee Owoo and "Absolute Beginners" with David Bowie.

Jo jo Yates

Jo Jo Yates - Music Maker and Instrument Creator

Born in Sekondi, Ghana, Jo Jo has developed a form of playing using the diverse rhythms from North Africa fused with West African music. Playing with groups like Ga-Cuba, Trevor Watts Moure Music Drum Orchestra and Keith Waithe and the Macusi Players, his instruments range from the Gonie to the Mbira. Jo Jo made himself his Nyaniba Kora - The instrument he plays on BEAT.

Kadialy Kouyate

Kadialy Kouyate - An Emerging Kora Star and Griot Singer

Kadialy Kouyate grew up in Southern Senegal. His maternal grandmother, Kediaw Drame, herself a griot, introduced Kadialy to a great wealth of songs and stories developing his Kora playing and singing skills.

The Kouyate family name is associated within the Maninka with the class of hereditary artisans whose profession is music. Known as Jeli (or in French, Griot) they are responsible for the keeping of history and music.

Proud of his Kouyate lineage, (which stretches back to Balla Fassake Kouyate the first Mandinke diali during the reign of Emperor Sundiata Keita) Kadialy was drawn to the Eastern or Tilibo style of playing in Mali. A style he has vigorously modified by creating unique fingering and rhythmic patterns. He feels the gentle Tilibo style gives great scope for melodic invention.

Kadialy is fluent in six languages: Mande, Ouloff, Bambara, Fulani, French and English. He is a student of the Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar where he uses his skills as a performer and teacher to support his learning.

Atongo Zimba
Atongo Zimba

Atongo Zimba - Ghanian Star Koloko Player and Singer

Ghanian star Koloko player and singer Atongo is from Bolgatanga in the far north of Ghana. He learnt to play the Koloko from his grandfather, who had migrated from Mali. Atongo sings in Frafra, Hausa, Ga and English.

He is very popular in Ghana for his recordings, radio and television appearances. He has played at the Shrine Lagos with Fela Kuti and has also played with Osa Bisa and the Pan African Orchestra. His music has been featured at Accra's major jazz clubs and at the city's major live music and dance venue Alliance Francaise. He has opened for Manu Dibango and Angelique Kidjo at Ghana's National Theatre.

Atongo has toured widely in Switzerland, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. He is now resident in the UK where he composed and performed the music for the award winning Elmina's Kitchen at the National Theatre.

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