{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/folklife.php' }

Homegrown Plus Premiere: Wuza Wuza Music and Dance Ensemble from Ghana

In this picture of Wuza Wuza, two men and two women hold colorful flags. Photo is accompanied by the Homegrown 2022 logo, which includes the words "Library of Congress American Folklife Center Homegrown 2022 Concert Series, "Homegrown at Home." WÖR

This week our Homegrown Plus Premiere series continues with Wuza Wuza, a music and dance performance company featuring Ghanaian artists deeply invested in the expression of African traditions and cultures. Following the standard for this series, this blog post includes an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore!

Wuza Wuza translates best as “you and us together as one,” and the name is a combination of the Akan word wu, or “you,” and the Dagbani word zaa, or “together as one.” Additionally, the group’s name references the dance company’s founder, Yawuza Alhassan, one of Ghana’s most internationally recognized dancers and choreographers. Alhassan established a nascent version of the project in 2000 as a solo endeavor, and then formally launched the group in 2005 at the British Council of Ghana by pulling together a collective of like-minded artists to create music and dance pieces that reflected the diverse ethnic and cultural traditions across the country.

Wuza Wuza ensemble members are highly trained performers and instructors, educated in traditional musical practices as well as in formal contemporary institutions. Collectively, the members have learned from various traditional masters and completed rigorous residencies with prestigious companies such as the National Dance Company of Ghana or the Noyam African Dance Institute. They have also collaborated with members of the Sogo dance troupe, Nbanba Culture dance, N.Y.C. Dance troupe, and Gyanomo Dance Troupe. The company is currently based in New York City, where they filmed their video for the Homegrown series with support from the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. The members featured in the video are Yawuza Alhassan, Marianna Gariba, and Kuubet Saeed.

Wuza Wuza pieces reflect lived experience and cultural frameworks through the unity of rhythm and movement. The group’s wide-ranging repertoire emerges from a creative combination of indigenous, imaginative, and contemporary sources. Through this repertoire, Wuza Wuza Ensemble aims to unite, educate, and entertain audiences while representing Ghana and African traditions around the world.

Enough reading—it’s time to hear and see the Wuza Wuza ensemble in their Homegrown at Home 2022 video. Watch it in the player below!

 

[Transcript of Concert]

During my interview with Yawuza Alhassan, we talked about his pathway into musical and dance performance while he was a child in Ghana. We also talked about the genesis of Wuza Wuza, and the group’s approach to collective creation of the repertoire. Throughout the conversation, Yawuza offered insights into his own philosophy about unity and sharing cultural expressions. I’m grateful for the time he was able to give to the conversation, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too…find it in the player below!

 

[Transcript of interview]

After the premiere, you’ll be able to find both these videos with more bibliographic information at this link on the Library of Congress website. You’ll also find them on the Library of Congress YouTube Channel.

You can also visit the Center for Traditional Music and Dance “Touring Artists” page to learn more about the group.

Collection Connections

If you enjoyed the concert and interview, check out the Collection Connections below. You’ll find links to archival collections, guides, and other materials related to folklife and traditional culture from Ghana.

Archival Film Online

In early July, 1964, Pete and Toshi Seeger visited the coast of Ghana, 40 miles Northeast of Accra, and filmed the musical activities of a fishing community.

Out of this footage, they edited a 14-minute film called “Singing Fishermen of Ghana,” which you can watch on Folkstreams at this link.

The footage is part of AFC’s Pete and Toshi Seeger Film Collection, whose catalog record is here.

Event Videos

The Library of Congress Music Division featured the lecture “Rhythmic Imagination in African Music” by Ghanaian-born musicologist Kofi Agawu, a professor at Princeton University and a fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The American Folklife Center featured a program of storytelling and music from the late Opalanga Pugh, accompanied by Askia Toure.  Pugh, a native of Denver, Colorado, spent time in many West African countries, including Ghana, and often included Akan traditions in her presentations.

Collections Guides

View an annotated list of archival collections at the Center with materials from Ghana.

Find catalog records for many of these Ghana collections at this link.

Get an overview of dance-related collections and resources at the Center, including the Center for Traditional Music and Dance collection as well as a fieldwork collection documenting traditional dance in several African countries!

 

 

Live Botkin Lectures Return to the Library with Martha Cooper September 7

The American Folklife Center is pleased to announce the return of live events in our Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series!  The first onsite Botkin lecture in over two years will be Wednesday, September 7, at 4:00 pm in the Whittall Pavilion, and will feature the renowned documentary photographer Martha Cooper.

Guthries, Lomaxes, and Seegers

The “Great Folk Scare” of the 1930s-1950s had few surnames more prominent than Guthrie, Lomax, or Seeger. They were multi-generational families who today continue to practice folk music and illuminate tradition bearers. The American Folklife Center holds archival collections documenting these families and so we have produced guides to aid research access. This blog post explains and introduces the new guides.

Homegrown Plus Premiere: WÖR’s Folk and Early Music from Belgium

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus Premiere series with WÖR, a band of five musicians from Belgium whose curiosity and passion lead them to research old Flemish music and present it in vibrant contemporary arrangements. As is usual for the series, this blog post includes an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore!

The Kitchen Sisters and Frances McDormand Live at the Library of Congress September 15

The American Folklife Center is delighted to announce a live program at the Library of Congress:
Live! at the Library: The Kitchen Sisters with Frances McDormand
Stories from the B Side of History
Presented by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
September 15, 2022, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Library of Congress, Coolidge Auditorium

This event is part of the Live! at the Library series and the Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series.

Admission is free, but attendees must secure tickets at the link provided in this blog post. All the info is in the post!

Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus: Camille Moreddu on French American Traditions

This post features a lecture by Camille Moreddu, a cultural historian from France who is studying what she calls the “French Creole Corridor,” French-speaking communities, primarily in the Upper Midwest, which retained fascinating French music and song recorded by collectors in the 20th and 21st centuries. In her lecture. Moreddu reviews the repertoire found in these and related collections–from Great Lakes voyageurs’ songs and French-Canadian fiddle tunes to the ballads, winter ritual songs, and local songs of the Creole settlements of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. She also discusses methods and experiences of the different collectors; the histories of colonial era Francophone settlers as well as later immigrants from France, Belgium, and Canada; and how the French cultural presence was integrated into the narrative and historiography of the American frontier. We also conducted a brief question and answer session with Moreddu, and appended it to the lecture video itself. Moreddu kindly did her lecture twice–once in English and once in French–to make it as accessible as possible to people with an interest in these collections, and we did the Q & A in both languages too!

Homegrown Plus Premiere: Janusz Prusinowski Kompania’s Progressive Village Music from Poland

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus Premiere series with Janusz Prusinowski Kompania, a quartet that plays rural music of Polish villages on fiddles, flutes, accordions, and other traditional instruments.  As is usual for the series, this blog post includes an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore!

Work in Progress: New Story Map on the AFC’s Occupational Folklife Collections

We are excited to announce the new Library story map, Work in Progress: The American Folklife Center’s Occupational Folklife Collections, which explores the many collections in the AFC archives dedicated to documenting “occupational folklife,” or work culture, and people’s work-related histories and experiences in places across the country. Check out the Work in Progress story […]