SWPS Artist listiNg
Frank Ulwenya was born into the Luya ethnic group in the Maragoli area of Western Kenya, an area known for producing many of Kenya's top musicians. Frank started to play guitar at age 10 and at 18 began to play in a group called the Sky Raiders, based in Nairobi, Kenya. From 1979 to 1985 he worked as a disc jockey and played in three different bands: Earthquake, Madics, and Ise Ise. In 1985, after moving to Seattle to work for the Boeing Company, Frank started meeting with friends to play music. At the suggestion of other Kenyans, this informal group started to perform together as Ujamaa.
In 1987, Frank founded his current ensemble, L'Orchestra Afrisound, with other African and American musicians. Frank and Afrisound have become an important fixture on the local Seattle scene, especially for the East African community, for whom Frank is considered the musical standard-bearer. A key member of the Pacific Northwest Kenyan association and other African organizations, Frank and Afrisound are a mainstay at regional African community events and in Seattle clubs.
Afua Kouyate, preserving West African cultures by presenting inter-active music, song and dance to the general public. Afua's inspiration and concentration is in Cultural Arts Leadership, Emphasizing Therapeutic Engagement. Her diversity in training with Cultural historians, masters and teachers allows her to create and choreograph African dance and creative movements that spring from her magical ability to stimulate, excite and flow with the rhythms of the drums. Afua has recently co-founded a new Cultural Arts Development that's based out of Seattle, Washington, named Kouyate Arts. Afua oversees management and leadership. For over the past 40 years, Afua has been an integral part of keeping cultural arts and entertainment vibrant in the Pacific Northwest and abroad. Co-founder of Adefua African Music & Dance Company. Awaken your spirit and experience PlanetAfua!
Anil Prasad began playing percussion at the age of seven, and accompanied his mother, Prabha Devi, a famous Indian vocalist and sitar player. He was recruited to the Husky Drumline out of high school and became the Husky Drumline section leader for two consecutive years. Anil is a student of tabla masters, Tor Dietrichson, Ustad Akram Khan, and Ustad Zakir Hussain and records and performs with many western, world music, and Indian groups in Seattle and beyond.
Anokye Agofomma is led by Ghanaian master drummer Yaw Amponsah and inspired by the teaching of his father, the legendary Koo Nimo. Anokye Agofomma focuses primarily on performing traditional drumming styles from the Asante region of Ghana, including fontomfrom, adowa, and kete.
Antonio M. Gomez is a percussionist, educator, arts administrator and public media producer. Musically, he specializes in Afro-Latin and Mediterranean genres and performs with Trio Guadalevin and Tango del Cielo, in addition to collaborations with Seattle's Medieval Women's Choir and Pacific MusicWorks, the Eurasia Consort, Orquesta Northwest and various Latin, funk, world and sacred music projects. He curates Deep Roots, New Branches for Early Music Seattle and is an Associate Folklorist for the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions. A former K12 teacher, Tony is the Associate Director for Education at Tacoma Arts Live, and has designed curricula for museums and PBS. He has studied percussion in Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Panama, Spain, Italy, and Morocco.
An accomplished musician, author, teacher, and DJ, Arturo has performed worldwide, sharing the stage with such music legends as Tito Puente, Dave Valentin, Paul Horn, Pete Escovedo, Brandi Carlile, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and many more. Never one to stand still for very long, Arturo is both a familiar face and a powerful force on the local Seattle music scene. While moving through the musical boundaries of Afro Cuban jazz, funk, pop, rock, and even folk music, Arturo has an amazing talent for bringing people together in a musical setting.
Boka Kouyate was born into a Griot tradition in Conakry, Guinea. His father was guitarist, ballaphonist and traditional storyteller Djely Nounke Kouyate. His mother is the popular Djely singer Djon Dioubate is also a Djely popular singer in Guinea.
Boka was strapped to his mother's back as a child, traveling with her from ceremony to ceremony every day. Soon he began singing with her. His music education with his father teaching him the Balaphone and stories within their tradition. Later, Boka began writing his own songs during his years in French School.
In 2008, Boka gained citywide recognition as the General Director of the national performance company called Gnankoumandou. As a young Djely in tradition, Boka graduated from the University of Kankan with a degree in Microbiology degree in 2010.
As a singer and djembe player, Boka toured with many famous Guinean artists from 2000 to 2014 throughout West Africa. When he moved to the Seattle in early 2014, Boka co-founded Kouyate Arts, an inter-active performance company of drummers, dancers and singers. He is also the Lead vocalist and composer for Boka Kouyate & The Djeliyah Band, sharing a unique fusion of popular African and traditional Djely music with the world.
Boka Kouyate & The Djeliyah Band
Boka Kouyate & The Djeliyah Band is Seattle's newest West African Music & Dance Band. A harmonic fusion of traditional Djeli and modern Guinean music that provides a highlife sound for your dancing pleasure! Founded in February 2015 in Seattle, Washington. Hitting the ground with an exciting bouquet of songs, music and dance that includes an inter-active component for everyone's enjoyment.
Dance with Dora
A native of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, Dance with Dora's founder and creative director, Dora Oliveira, is a master of her craft who has been choreographing, performing, and teaching Afro-Brazilian dance and music to adults and kids for over 30 years. Dora is a talented artist whose passion for dance and music inspired her to establish her own company. Her persona is vibrant and authentic, and her bold style allows her to teach her students with boundless energy and fervor.
Danny Mendoza is a percussionist, vocalist, band leader and educator based in the Seattle area. Danny comes from a family rich in musical heritage and culture and his main goal and passion are to share this rich heritage by bringing community together by way of music and dance oriented events.
Danny is a native of Chula Vista, CA where he became a self taught drummer and was part of various bands growing up. Aside from his own musical interests and projects, he was also very influenced by his father's musical taste which leaned towards salsa and other Caribbean styles. At the age of 23, he was introduced to folkloric Afro Cuban styles and began his study of the conga drum. As time has progressed, he has also added bata drums, cajon, bongo and timbales to his instrument repertoire and has also delved into the study of composition, dance, vocal improvisation and the common Afro Latino vocal style of answer and call.
Danny has studied under various teachers in Seattle and San Diego including Victor Tapia, Mark Lamson, Paul Lopez, Arturo Rodriguez and Steven Cherena. Danny is the founding member and currently leads, sings and plays congas in salsa band Elere. He is also part of folkoric group Omo Alagba and in February 2021 completed his initiation into the Afro Cuban tradition of Aa, a fraternity of ceremonial bata drumming and singing for the Orishas. Most recently Danny joined Afro-Latino funk/soul band Reposado and a brand new bolero/son project going by Desamor.
"Dingolay means to dance, twist and turn in elaborate movements, symbolising the culture and language of the ancestors of the people of Trinidad and Tobago." Founded by Shannon K. Dudley, UW Chair of Ethnomusicology, Dingolay is a result of his deep study of the steel pans and the music and cultures of Trinidad and Tobago.