Different Drumming

Performer Sulley Imoro teaches African culture through music.     By Monica Watson ‘12

 “I’m going to tell you a story,” whispers renowned performer Sulley Imoro, as he leans toward the audience in Ford Hall. They listen in rapt attention while he dances around the stage and unfolds the story, playing a drum he holds under his arm.

Imoro was the artist-in-residence at the School of Music from January 25 to March 11. He has performed in Africa, Europe, and the United States, including for high-profile people such as former U.S. president Bill Clinton. He is the director and founder of the Mbangba Cultural Troupe of Ashemie and the Degara Bewaa Culture group of Tamale, and he also teaches the dance ensemble at the University of Ghana at Legon.

Imoro’s drum and dance performance, held on February 26 in celebration of Black History Month, included IC students enrolled in the African Drum and Dance Performance course taught by Baruch Whitehead, associate professor of music education. Gary Omar Walker ’10 played the talking drum and Kathryn Cohen ’10 and Nia Scretching ’12 performed as dancers. Whitehead integrates cultural and political discussions into the course in order to help students understand that they are part of a global society. Imoro assisted in the classroom.

Caitlin Henning ’11, a vocal music education major, took the drum course and hopes to use it as an elementary school music teacher. “It’s important for people to branch out and learn things about cultures they’re not a part of.”

The evening concluded with Imoro encouraging members of the audience to come up to the stage for a group lesson and performance.