Obo Addy

Contact: Susan Addy
Address: 7725 N Fowler Ave, Portland, OR 97217
County: Multnomah
Phone: 503-810-0496 (day) 503-249-0428 (evening)
Email: susanjaddy@yahoo.com
Website: www.oboaddy.com
Birthplace: Ghana

Birth Date: 1/15/36
Ethnic Background: Ga

Describe your traditional skill/craft/art, when and why it is done, and your history with it:

Ga drumming, both social and traditional. Have been playing all my life. Named a master drummer at 6 years old. Originally accompanied spiritual ceremonies.

How and from whom was the tradition learned?

Learned from father and older brothers. Family tradition. My family life has always revolved around the ritual and tradition of the Ga people of Ghana, West Africa. As my father was a Wonche priest and medicine man, I was constantly surrounded by the drumming, dancing, and singing that accompanied his work. My siblings and I listened, observed, and helped as needed when my father performed various spiritual ceremonies and rites. From these proceedings I learned about the power of music, drumming, and rhythms. In rituals, I first learned to play bell. Later, I was allowed to play drums. In between these events and lessons with my father, I played on my own and with other musicians at social gatherings in town. AS a small boy, I knew that I wanted to be musician. Fortunately, I learned at the art from my family.

How, when, why did you come to Oregon:

Came to Oregon in 1979. Had based in Seattle and decided to come to a smaller city.

Any other biographical information (awards, honors, presentation, etc.):

1993: Governor’s award for the Arts
1993: Master’s Fellowship OAC
1996: National Heritage Award (NEA)
1999: Masters Fellowship RACC
2007: Oregon Musicians Hall of Fame


Profession: Composer, singer, and musician specializing in Ghanaian hand drums (obrenten, brekete, pretia, etc.), Donno (“talking drum”), and Giri (African xylophone).

Afieye Okropong (Alula-Allegro 2004)
Wonche Bi (Alula-Allegro 2001)
The Rhythm of Which a Chief Walks Gracefully (EarthBeat!/Warner, 1994)
Let Me Play My Drums (Burnside, 1993)
Okrapong (EarthBeat!/Warner 1992)
Born in the Tradition (Santrofi, 1986)
African American (Flying Heart, 1986)
Obo Addy/Kukrudu (Avocet, 1984)
Obo (Avocet, 1983)
Kpanlogo Party (Tangent, 1973)


Composition: In addition to the music I compose, which is described as African-Jazz, I have been writing pieces for String Quartet since begin commissioned by Kronos Quartet to write “Wawshishijay” which I recorded with them on group and recently for the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival and Saxoforte- a saxophone quartet in Germany. My pieces have been performed by 3rd Angle, The Charleston Orchestra String Quartet, The Quad City String Quartet, the Baltimore Symphony String Quartet and The Long Island Philharmonic Quartet.

Teaching Experience:
Adjunct faculty at Lewis and Clark College since 1988
Williams College since 1993 on a regular residency basis
Residency at Colby College in 2004
Study Abroad program in Ghana for Lewis and Clark College 2006, 2007, 2010
Teaching in public schools through Young Audiences and the Right Brain Initiative

Clinics: Percussion Arts Society International Convention: 11/11 Indianapolis, IN

Related Past Engagements:
World Food Prize Award, Des Moines, IA for the former President of Ghana Hon. John Kufuor
New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark, NJ
World Music Institute, New York City
Williams Center for the Performing Arts, Easton, PA

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