It was a real pleasure to have DC percussionist and activist Michael Kweku Owusu in the studio this week, and to catch his partner in life and work Kristen Arant on the phone as she strolled through the Ozarks (technology!). We discussed their music, teaching and especially their ambitious project to empower young folks in the Senya Beraku coastal area of Ghana through drum making and playing. Drumming Up From Poverty began in response the bull-dozing of the Accra Arts Center where Kweku was based before coming to DC, and Kristen and Kweku have made great strides over the past few years. They have purchased land, finished digging a well and begun construction on the various buildings and facilities required to make this happen. Their Indiegogo campaign can give you more info, and the opportunity to contribute to the success of this project.
Kewu and Kristen are both talented and sought-after percussionist on the DC scene, and you can catch them around town with Akoma Drummers and in many of the top African bands, including Cheick Hamala Diabate, Elikeh and others. They teach and run the Hands on Drums pop-up shop in DC which sells great stuff from their artisan community in Ghana. More info can be found at the links below.
[BAD NEWS! The automated recording system at the radio station wasn’t functioning properly the day of our interview, so we lost the audio. We are particularly bummed to not have Kweku’s beautiful in-studio performances! We hope to get Kweku and Kristen back in soon to fix this! Stay tuned…]