For this week’s interview we sat down with DC multi-instrumentalist, lecturer and instrument craftsman Uasuf Gueye to hear about his musical journey, philosophy and current work as a 2017-2018 Strathmore Artist in Residence. We also were treated to three songs live in the studio [@6:12, 18:47 & 26:54] featuring Uasuf on ngoni, balafon and dundun, with Takoma Park’s own Robert Coleman on guitar.
Born in Washington DC, Uasuf Gueye (pronounced “GAY-yay”) belongs to a family of Nguewel/Diali, or oral historians and musicians, and so began his study and performance of Manding and Wolof music at a very young age. Uasuf is a dynamic djembe and dundun drummer and also plays the 21-key bala and ngoni, which he first learned with his teacher, DC griot Cheick Hamala Diabate. Uasuf has since learned from various master artists in Senegal and the US, including Medoune Yacine Gueye, Baile Mcknight, Famoro Dioubate, Mahiri F. Keita, and Amadou Kouyate. His repertoire ranges from traditional songs of the 13th century to contemporary original compositions incorporating blues, hip-hop and jazz.
Uasuf has dedicated his life to becoming an ambassador of African culture to the world and reconnecting those of the African Diaspora to one another. As a teacher and lecturer, Uasuf has had a significant impact in various communities through workshops at University of Maryland, Montgomery College and the Berklee College of Music, as well as teaching in local schools, providing ambiance for eloquent banquets, performing solo and with his band, and opening for stars like Patti Labelle. Uasuf’s talent and passion for knowledge assure that the future of Manding and Wolof tradition is bright in DC, and we can’t wait to hear where his talent and passion lead him next. Check out his website below for more information and to catch him live in the DC area sometime soon!
[Click play at the top of this post to hear our interview & Uasuf’s on-air performances]