Jolly Papa is dedicated to African music and community in the Washington, DC area & beyond. We are fully independent and 100% powered by passion in everything we do. If you'd like to get involved or contribute time or money to keep things grooving and growing we'd love to hear from you! Every penny donated goes toward maintaining our 24/7 internet radio station (we pay artists royalties through SoundExchange, BMI and ASCAP), our website, video programs and events.
We thank you greatly for your support!
Michael’s fascination with African music began as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic where he began learning soukous-style guitar listening to cassettes and playing with local musicians. After his service, Michael pursued a graduate degree in ethnomusicology at Tulane University in New Orleans, culminating in two years of field research in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.
Michael is a founding member of the Ivoirian group Zieti and produced their debut album Zemelewa for Grigri Discs in 2012. The album received critical acclaim and was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, Afropop Worldwide and WYPR’s The Signal. He has also produced albums by grammy-nominee Cheick Hamala Diabate, Elikeh, Mr. Gabe, Jolly Papa and Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band for which he is lead singer and principal composer. Michael was voted Best World Music Vocalist in 2014 by the Washington Area Music Association.
Since 2016 Michael has partnered with Eme Awa to produce radio, television and live programming under the banner of Jolly Papa.
Eme is founder and creative leader of Eme & Heteru, a DC-based 10-piece Afro-Roots ensemble which begins with African rhythms and then explores how they intersect with popular American and Caribbean music. The band has performed at many prestigious events and occasions, including Washington DC’s Tribute to late activist and author, Chinua Achebe, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art's popular “Africa Underground” series.
Eme has been honored with several "wammie" award nominations by his peers in the Washington Area Music Association, and he has been asked to share the stage with well-known national and international artists such as Kiary Arby, Yellowman, Boubacar Traore, Jeffrey Osborne, and Nester Torres to name a few. Since 2016 Eme has partnered with Michael Shereikis to produce radio, television and live programming under the banner of Jolly Papa.
Eme is the son of the late Eme O. Awa, who was Professor of Political Science and chairman of the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Nigeria.