ABOUT THE ALBUM
KENTE DRESS DANCE
Giving begets blessing and thanksgiving is honorable; each feeds the other, according to the wisdom of the African elders. Rituals such as Libations, and other ceremonies, provide a context for the expression of human gratitude to the Divine Creator, the Ancestors and the Deities for giving life, spiritual protection and material Blessings.
“Ndaase”, an Akan word that means thanksgiving, celebrates the spirit of this gesture, which bonds not only the recipient to the giver, but also the physical world of mortals to the spiritual of the Ancestors and the Deity.
SII SII SII
This folksong talks about respect for women as a way of ensuring long life. It addresses the Mother attribute of God, proof that the sanctity and the dignity of womanhood have always been present in older societies. In our day, it is more important than ever to look at the removal of violence against women and the general respect of womanhood as critical for the very survival and the prosperity of human society
ODO ABA (Love Is Here)
Odo Aba extols in story-telling to Mother, Father, and the whole community the arrival of the long-anticipated love. A girl announces that “Now, I will have a conversation of love to keep happy and a blanket of love to keep me warm”. As the elders say “Love does not lose its way home”. Love, indeed, has arrived.
OYE ADE YIE (One Who Repairs)
God as repairer and preserver is personified in a story about a mender of clothes who comes to town with his sewing machine on his shoulder, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood to mend clothes for the poor who cannot afford new ones. He announces his presence with the chant, “OYEADEAYIE MAAB OO”, meaning “I the mender have arrived”. This chant alerts the community to bring their tattered clothes to the Great Repairer. Oya Ade Yie is my exaltation of the renewal of the human spirit through the Divine.
ADZIDO HABOBO (Unite Mother Africa)
This is a call to Africa and its Diaspora to harness its resources, human and otherwise, and with God’s help, act for positive change. “Then maybe, you won’t cry anymore”. “Adzido habobo!” That we may heed this call.
During my childhood days in Sekondi, a town in the western part of Ghana, I was a regular visitor to the “Zongo”, the part of town reserved for the Moslem community. There, I saw many Islamic marriages and soaked in the Gumbe rhythms of the Hausa that accompanied them. I try to relive those days in “Fatima”.
Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed the founder of Islam, married Adamu, the first son, according to Islamic lore, and over the years, her name has become one with all that is gracious, noble and elegant.
Those Hausa rites are still fresh in my mind, like they happened just yesterday: the swirling of the gowns of the dancing girls; the “SADAKA”; offering food in the form of kola nuts to God; the girls’ good-byes to their parents and old friends. “SegobeMamudu Segobe…”. “Goodbye, Parents, Goodbye Old boyfriend, goodbye all temptations. I love you, but now I must part”, they sang. The husband and wife usually settled in, then went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, from where they come back adorned with the titles Alhaji and Hadjia…… Was quite a life, those early days.
TREE WITHOUT ROOTS
I try here to speak to a subject very close to my heart: the family. That nucleus of our human community has taken quite a licking in our times, beginning with the frequent absence of the male from the fold. “The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people…”
“Wala Tu Walasa” is a corrupted form of an Akan expression: Woara tu na woara sa, which literally means “You dig it up and shovel it yourself”. Its inferred notions of self-reliance and a strong work ethic underlie this upbeat work song whose beat echoes the cadences of digging and shoveling at the construction site. The call and response chants mimic similar practice at the work place
Chechekule – Chechekule
Chechekofisa – Chechekofisa
Kofisa langa – Kofisa langa
Katachi langa – katachi langa
Kum maaye de – Kum, maaye de
Long before television, aerobics and Macarena, the children would gather in open spaces all over town and do the Chechekule in formation. It didn’t matter much that moving the body was good for the health. It just simply was great fun. The exercise:
Stand at ease:
Throw both hands above the head “Chechekule”
Touch the shoulders “Chechekofisa”
Touch the waist “Kofisalanga”
Touch the knees “Katachilanga”
Touch the toes as you sing: “Kumaayede”
“Kum – Maaye de”, meaning
“I have done it.”
(Don’t forget to breathe)
AFESHIA PA (Happy New Year)
“Afeshia Pa” is an Akan folk greeting to usher in the New Year. I hope this composition will make all the New Years to come a shared time of joy and promise for you all Afeshia Pa.
The music opens with the sound of gentle wind carrying the spirits of the ancestors to the midst of their people who transport them for a meeting. A call and response between the guitar and the flute represent the dialogue between ancestors and their people.
This tune tries to capture the mood of a visit with the ancestral spirits. The recognition of the forbearers is an important convention in Africa. Through libations, songs and dances, and the offer of food and drink, we take the time to say “Ayikoo”, well done, to the ancestors and promise to preserve the society and bring honor and glory to their names.
KENTE DRESS DANCE (The Title Song)
“Kente” is a colorful Ghanaian ceremonial hand woven cloth that has seen its use evolve from royal ceremonies in the traditional society to great importance during present day high society events and festivities.
Rooted in the pulse and the lyrics of the “Osibi”, a traditional musical form known in modern parlance as High Life, Kente Dress Dance celebrates the optimism and the cheer of an immediate post-independence Ghana, when the spark of national pride brought community, clad in their elegant Kente garb, to the square, to dance and make merry.
Michael Harris - Trumpet
Suzanne 'Angel' Teng - Flute
Andre` Manga - Bass and Keyboards
Eric Gorfain - Violin
Francis Aweh - Talking Drums
Tanoa Efua Ansah - Backing Vocals
Nana Frimpong - Kete - Karimba - Tongue Drum
Derf - Flute
Emmannuel Ammissah - Junjun and Backing Vocals
Beatrice Holloway - Backing Vocals
ABOUT THE ARTIST
TUMI EBOW ANSAH, a native of Ghana, is an actor, composer, ethno-musicologist and researcher. He is also a folk musician and poet whose compositions are deploy rooted in ancient African Traditions. His lyrics draw on social issues as well as the common joys of life.
As an actor, he was featured in many television series' in England including No Hiding Place, Danger Man, Man In SuitCase, and has played leading roles in several feature films in Europe and Africa such as Farewell to Dope, Genesis Chapter X, His Majesty's Sergent and the award winning film Heritage Africa in which he played Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana.
Mr. Ansa wrote the film scores for Farewell to Dope and His Majesty's Sergeant and composed scores for an entire season of African plays performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London. He won first prize in composition for Song for Peace and an award for the music of the stage play The Raft.
He came to the United States in 1990 and worked as a freelance research and scholar at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. While there, he researched the folkways of ethnic minority groups living in the area. As a researcher and curator, his work included photographs, interviews and documentation of folk life for the Smithsonian Black Mosaic Exhibition. He has also completed research for the exhibition entitled Building A Home Away From Home: African Immigrant Folk Life for the Festival of American Folk Life.
Mr. Ansa is well rooted in the African tradition and culture. One of his many projects involved organizing the Ties that Bind Ceremonial event to receive ancestral remains of the first black settlers in America. These historical remains, found in a hidden burial ground in New York City, were brought to Howard University for anthropological research.
His varied musical career on the East Coast includes performances at Howard University Theatre, at the Museum of African Art, and at the inauguration of Mayor Marion Barry, as well as numerous workshops on African Music at Goucher College.
While in Los Angeles, Mr. Ansa has been invited to perform for the American Guitar Society; California State University, Northridge; African Extravaganza at the University of Southern California; and at the California Institute of Technology. Mr. Ansa also performed at the opening ceremony of Black History month at California State University, Northridge. By pouring libations, he paid tribute to the ancestors and also played African folk music to traditional African stories. Most recently, he lectured and performed at Brown University in Providence Rhode Island. Mr. Ansa is a graduate of Putney College, London England, London School of Film Technique, and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.