Bideew Bou Bess
THE SENEGAL-AMERICA PROJECT is all about innovative collaborations between Senegalese and American musicians, poets, dancers, educators, and just about anyone who considers themselves to be a bold global citizen. The US contingency of performers who are regular participants in the project include Abiodun Oyewole (of The Last Poets), percussionist and founder of the project Tony Vacca, performance poet Ms. Tantra Zawadi and composer/musician/producer Derrik Jordan. Special guest performers have included Charles Neville, Jo Sallins, Pitz Quattrone, Tim Moran, Steve Leicach, and so many more.
Senegalese participants have included Massamba Diop (the internationally acclaimed tama drummer for Baaba Maal), Barou Sall (master of three stringed hoddou), dancer Abdou Sarr, singer/composer/raper Nomilla, and Senegalese Hip-Hop troupes Gokh-bi System, Focoti Mic, riiti player and singer Djibril Ba, and of course Bideew Bou Bess.
IN THE PHOTO: The Senegal-America Project with Bideew Bou Bess in concert at the CISES Concert Hall in Dakar, Senegal in January of 2013. This and other festival performances and workshops were all part of the US EMBASSY'S GRANT to us to do performances and collaborative recordings. Left to right: Tantra Zawadi, Baidy Sall, Abiodun Oyeowle, Tony Vacca, Ibrahima Sall, Moctar Sall. Just beyond the margin of the picture is Derrik Jordan.
"What follows below is a description of one of our favorite Senegalese collaborators, the group called Bideew Bou Bess. We want you to get a feeling for what they do, and then imagine how The Senegal-America Project is continuing to become something even greater than the sum of it's truly amazing parts..." Tony Vacca
BIDEEW BOU BESS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Some might call them 21st Century Griots…some might describe their music as "ancient meets the future…" some might see them as the living link between African and American Hip-Hop traditions, or as outspoken global citizens. By whatever description, the Senegalese group called Bideew Bou Bess has to be seen and heard before you can fully grasp their effortless, innovative fusion of traditions and languages. Best of all, they use their wide-spread popularity in Senegal to address pressing social issues that include: universal free education, affordable health care, preventing domestic violence, exposing and preventing land grabbing, and global citizenship.
So click on the video below to see for yourself. You're going to want to see this in "full screen," and turn up the volume while you're at it.
Bideew Bou Bess is comprised of three brothers: Moctar, Baidy, and Ibrahima Sall. They are experienced and articulate performers with a clear sense of their place in the world's ever-evolving music scene. In concert performances they blend sweet vocals with savvy poetic commentary and strong traditional melodies.
James Heflin, music editor for The Valley Advocate wrote: "In the video "Kham Kham" Bideew Bou Bess offer something startling: an African brand of Hip-Hop that's not quite like anything else. That's true of most of their music, which possesses equal parts Hip-Hop swagger, big beats, well-sung harmony, and traditional African sounds... It's exhilarating stuff."
For young performers, Bideew Bou Bess has already compiled an impressive history. It includes a World Tour with Yousou Ndour; a collaboration with Grammy Award-winning rapper and singer Wyclef Jean for their first album released in Senegal; a collaboration with French Rapper Passi for two songs on Passi's "Genesis" CD that became a double gold disc in France and lead to Passi producing their first international release, "Original." At their Anniversary Concert of 2012 they did an unforgettable set with Baaba Maal, one of the truly timeless giants of African music.
Bideew Bou Bess now has their own Senegal-based production company, doing international collaborations for recordings and performances, while maintaining a busy year-round concert schedule in response to their second international CD "Ndoubelane." Their collaborations with the award-winning film production company Gelongal has produced stunning music videos, and has added to their ever-growing international audience; in 2012 they did a tour in Brazil and Latin America. As if all this weren't enough, they are generous social activists, regularly doing benefit concerts that address issues like malaria, health care, education and equity.
Bideew Bou Bess, Tony Vacca and The Senegal-America Project:
Collaborations began between Bideew Bou Bess and US musician/poet Tony Vacca when they were introduced by Pape Pouye, one of Senegal's most daring music producers. Vacca invited them to be part of his "Things Gotta Change" CD project, and Bideew Boiu Bess responded by hosting Vacca's Senegal-America Project and poet Tantra Zawadi at their sold-out anniversary concert at The Daniel Sorano National Theater of Senegal (Senegal's equivalent of Carnegie Hall).
2013 began by continuing this collaboration when Tony Vacca and Abiodun Oyewole (of The Last Poets) received a Grant from the US Embassy in Dakar to bring the Senegal-America Project back to Senegal for a series of concerts, workshops, and collaborations. In addition to Vacca and Oyewole, the group included poet Tantra Zawadi, and musician Derrik Jordan. This time they filled the CISES Arena, and then the Joseph Ndiaye Amphitheatre on Goree Island.
Having completed two recent US mini-tours as part of our Senegal-America Project (last April, and then another tour in October and November of 2013) they are about the return to the US this February and March for their third tour with our Senegal-America Project. This upcoming tour will include a residency at Smith College on West African Hip-Hop and Global Citizenship, February 22-25. See the Event Calendar under those dates for more info.
Programs in schools:
All three members of Bideew Bou Bess have a vast working knowledge of West African traditions, as well as a surprising familiarity with American music. They know plenty of Stevie Wonder's songs, they are big Beatles fans, they dig fusion and Jazz, and they certainly know many of the contemporary Rap and Hip-Hop artists. They also know Rap began as social commentary with the ground-breaking work of The Last Poets; something that many of their American peers are sadly often unaware of. In a sweet turn of "poetic justice," because of their generous collaborations with The Senegal-America Project, Bideew Bou Bess is now working with Abioidun Oyewole, one of the original members of The Last Poets.
Here is a list of some of the workshops being offered:
Traditions and Innovations: Word 2 Word, Senegal-America
This session includes acoustic demonstrations of ancient and traditional songs and their contemporary use in Senegalese music. A discussion and demonstration of how these elements find their way across the planet to become whole new traditions and musical forms follows. This pertains to Rap and Hip Hop, as well as Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and Jazz.
West African Hip-Hop: The Social Contract between Artists and Communities:
Part demonstration and part discussion, this workshop is an opportunity for students to see that for Bideew Bou Bess, music is a "culture-building" experience. It's something that demonstrates and strengthens their connections to their community. Oh, and one more thing… while many may think of Rap and Hip-Hop as indigenous American creations, for Africans it's something their "griots" have been doing for centuries. Welcome to the global community baby!
While there is a long history of artists being "connected" to their community, in the 21st Century the "community" is becoming the world. The world wide network and the ubiquitous hand-held phone/device/computer is allowing us all to see that our fates are more inter-connected than ever. Being a "global citizen" is no longer a hip catch phrase, it's a necessity. We'll discuss and demonstrate all the above with students in a classroom or in an auditorium. Any setting can work.
Race, Culture, Music and Identity:
Explores the forces that bring us together and pull us apart, how these function in contemporary music, and what responsibilities performers have to speak up, speak out, and realize their visions for an ever changing world.
with Tony Vacca
Multi-Culti Rhythm Ensemble: This is a hands-on session in which participants learn to play a percussion composition. Students and faculty usually work together and all skill levels are welcome. By virtue of the instrumentation and the sensibility of the music, this workshop is equally about the phenomenon of World Music, as it is about developing an awareness of our interconnectedness. These rhythms demonstrate a strong and obvious connection between drumming and Math.
In all these workshops,combining the Senegalese group Bideew Bou Bess with one or more members of The Senegal-America Project (Abiodun Oyewole, Tantra Zawadi, Tony Vacca, Derrik Jordan) adds a special depth, and takes advantage of the collaborations, discussions and recordings they all created in Senegal during this past December and January.
While all three members of Bideew Bou Bess have functional English skills, pairing them with those who speak French, Wolof or Fulani will bring out the depth of their comments.