Homeland Security: Celebrating African Music and Dance

Margot Edwards
January 3, 2013
Press release
Victor Dogah
Jeniffer Criss
Helder Tsinine
photo by Margot Edwards

Berklee College of Music attracts musicians from all over the world, and an increasing number of exceptional students are arriving from Africa as a result of auditions there. On January 28, Berklee presents Homeland Security: Celebrating Contemporary and Traditional African Music and Dance, highlighting the rich music, compelling stories, and vibrant dance that are a way of life in Africa. The concert will feature students from Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeri, and South Africa who are studying at the college on scholarships, as well as students from the U.S.

The concert program includes original songs written by the students about their homelands and personal journeys. Student-penned pieces include “Va Gumulelana (No More War),” by Helder Tsinine, which in 2011 became the first non-English language song to win the Peacedriven Songwriting Contest; “Battle” by Jason Ekhabi Sibi-Okumu, about his struggle with kidney failure; and “Mwanamuziki” (Swahili for musician), by Annette Oduor, paying homage to her hometown of Nairobi.

Homeland Security: Celebrating Contemporary and Traditional African Music and Dance at Berklee takes place Monday, January 28, 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets are $8 in advance, $12 day of show, and can be purchased at the BPC Box Office. The venue is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 617 747-2261 or visit berkleebpc.com. Can't make it to the show? The event will stream live on Concert Window.

Traditional pieces featuring drumming and dance will bookend the concert. Berklee’s 16-member West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, directed by Joe Galeota, associate professor of percussion, open the show with “Togo Atsia,” originally a women’s dance piece from the coast of Ghana and Togo. While another group of students, choreographed by student Jeniffer Criss, will close out the concert with “Sinte,” from Guinea and Mali.

“I am one of the advisors for the African student club and was moved to see such camaraderie between the members,” said Galeota. “They are all so talented but still help one another and maintain the kind of closeness that you find in the African communities. My vision for the concert was to share all of their talent in one night and on one stage together.” 

The West African Drum and Dance Ensemble also features percussionist Victor “Blue” Dogah. In 2008, Dogah was named Berklee’s first Africa Scholar—an award covering full tuition and room and board for four years at Berklee – through the program instituted by Berklee president Roger H. Brown. This concert is dedicated to Brown and his wife Linda Mason in honor of their humanitarian work in Africa and continued support of Africa’s musical community.


Press contact:

Margot Edwards

Berklee Media Relations


617 747-2004